More than six years after Phil Jackson never met with him to discuss the possibility of coaching the triangle, Mike Woodson is officially back with the Knicks.
The Knicks finally announced the rest of their coaching staff under Tom Thibodeau with Woodson, Utah’s Johnnie Bryant, Andy Greer and Dice Yoshimoto being officially named. The Knicks had already announced Kenny Payne’s hiring so the University of Kentucky could move on in replacing him.
“With these hires, we have added a wealth of basketball experience and knowledge that will be of great service to our players and our organization,” Thibodeau said in a statement. “All of our coaches have had a high level of success in college, the NBA or internationally. We are assembling a hard-working and well-rounded coaching staff that will embody everything we want to be about: accountability, development, teaching and a winning culture.”
The Knicks were waiting for Bryant to be done with his Jazz duties as Utah was eliminated in Game 7 of the first round by Denver on Tuesday.
According to a source, there’s a good chance Larry Greer, Andy’s brother, will be added to the organization in some capacity. Larry Greer was with Thibodeau in Minnesota and most recently coached last season in Phoenix.
Woodson coached the Knicks for three seasons, compiling a 109-79 record and .580 winning percentage.
Woodson took over for Mike D’Antoni as an interim late in the 2011-’12 campaign and finishing 18-6. That led to his promotion and he guided the Knicks to a 54-28 campaign in 2012-’13 and a second-round playoff berth. In his final season, the Knicks dipped to 37-45 but were in the playoff race up until the final two games. Jackson had recently taken over as president and never met with Woodson before firing him when the 2013-14 season ended.
The Knicks have been a laughingstock since. In the past six non-playoff years, they’ve been out of the race by March 1. Woodson was arguably the only coach to ever get Carmelo Anthony to play defense.
The 62-year-old, who last worked for the Clippers as Doc Rivers’ assistant, will be another bright defensive mind on Thibodeau’s bench.
The additions of Bryant and Payne are more for their player development chops. Bryant has been key to Donovan Mitchell’s growth and could be a lure for Mitchell if he becomes a restricted free agent in 2021.
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A convenient report after the Jazz were eliminated stated Mitchell plans to sign a rookie contract extension this fall ahead of him becoming a free agent. Nothing is given as Kyrie Irving once stated he planned to unequivocally re-sign with Boston once.
The new strategy is having player-developmental personnel on court with the players. Craig Robinson, the former Player Developmental chief, was in an executive role and was not hands-on with court work. Robinson left the Knicks to become chief of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.