NEW YORK (AP) — Mike Woodson will return as the New York Knicks' coach after leading them to their first playoff victory in 11 years.
The Knicks removed the interim tag Friday and announced they had given Woodson a multiyear contract extension, rewarding him for a terrific finish to what had been a turbulent season.
Woodson led the Knicks to an 18-6 record after replacing Mike D'Antoni on March 14. The Knicks lost 4-1 to Miami in the first round, snapping an NBA-record, 13-game postseason losing streak by winning Game 4 for their first victory since 2001.
"Mike has the respect of every person in this organization," general manager Glen Grunwald said in a statement. "He and his staff led the team in an impressive push into the playoffs over the last 24 games and we believe he is the right man to lead the franchise as we move forward."
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
Raymond J Ramsey Esq
The New York Times
A first-round draft pick of the Knicks in 1980, Woodson returned to the team last summer as an assistant coach, providing a defensive-minded voice to D'Antoni's staff. Woodson's influence, combined with Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, moved the Knicks into the top half of the league's defensive rankings after they had been one the worst teams for years.
D'Antoni resigned March 14 when the Knicks were 18-24 and in danger of missing the playoffs. Woodson won his first five games and was praised by players for holding them more accountable to playing defense. Most importantly, he got the most out of Carmelo Anthony, who was having a disappointing season in D'Antoni's offense but was April's Eastern Conference player of the month.
"Mike took over the team under challenging circumstances and made it clear, starting on day one, that he was going to hold every player on our roster accountable," Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan said. "We saw a significant improvement since Mike took over and believe our team will only keep improving under Mike's direction."
Anthony, Chandler and fellow star Amare Stoudemire had all backed Woodson's return when the season ended. And his chances of improving returned when the Knicks removed the interim tag from Grunwald, his former college teammate at Indiana, late in the regular season.
There was speculation the Knicks would reach out to another former Knick, 11-time champion coach Phil Jackson, but they decided not to make another change, believing they can continue to improve with a full season under Woodson.
He previously spent six seasons as coach of the Atlanta Hawks, improving his win total in every season until they went 53-29 in 2009-10. But he wasn't retained after they were swept in the conference semifinals for the second straight year.
Woodson then sat out a year before interviewing last summer for openings in Detroit — where he was an assistant on the Pistons' NBA championship team in 2004 — Minnesota and Houston. He then was hired by the Knicks on Aug. 29.
Woodson has a career 224-292 record as an NBA coach.