Mike Woodson, the only Knicks coach to win a playoff series in the last two decades and the last one to even reach the postseason, is coming back to New York as an assistant on Tom Thibodeau’s staff.
Woodson was one of the assistant coaches announced Friday by the Knicks, who hired Thibodeau as their coach in July.
The Knicks had already said that longtime Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne had left John Calipari’s staff to join Thibodeau. They have now added Johnnie Bryant as associate head coach, and Woodson and Andy Greer as assistant coaches.
Woodson originally joined Mike D’Antoni’s staff as an assistant for the 2011-12 season, becoming the interim coach when D’Antoni resigned in March of that season. He guided the Knicks on an 18-6 finishing kick to earn a playoff spot and the full-time job.
He then led New York to a 54-28 record in 2012-13, winning the franchise’s first Atlantic Division title since 1994. The Knicks beat Boston to reach the second round of the postseason for the only time since 2000.
But the Knicks hired Phil Jackson as president late in the 2013-14 season and he didn’t retain Woodson after the Knicks narrowly missed the playoffs. They haven’t returned to the postseason since, a seven-year drought that matches the longest in franchise history.
Woodson, who also led Atlanta to three postseason appearances before going to New York, worked on Doc Rivers’ staff with the Los Angeles Clippers from 2014-18. Thibodeau was an assistant to Rivers in Boston, and Rivers joked Friday that Woodson was “going to work more hours than he’s ever seen in his life” under the demanding Thibodeau.
“I’m also just amazed that Woody, when you look at his record, that he didn’t have a head coaching job already, but it is what it is,” Rivers added. “He’s going back to New York, he’s very happy. I’m happy to see two of my assistants working together now and I just love what Thibs is doing in New York. I think they’re going to be successful and I can’t wait for them to be that.”
Greer is also a former Knicks assistant, working there from 2001-03, and was later an assistant to Thibodeau in both Chicago and Minnesota.
Bryant spent the last six seasons as an assistant with the Utah Jazz, who lost in the first round of the playoffs. Also, Daisuke Yoshimoto was hired as an assistant to the head coach.
Thibodeau said in a statement that the Knicks are assembling a staff that will “embody everything we want to be about: accountability, development, teaching and a winning culture.”
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