With Mike Woodson officially named Knicks head coach Friday night, general manager Glen Grunwald answered the $10 million-per-year question on why he didn’t reach out to Phil Jackson to see if he could lure the Zen Master and his NBA-record 11 coaching titles to Madison Square Garden.
Grunwald said Woodson’s postseason interview was as impressive as his 18-6 regular-season record and that slammed the door shut on Jackson.
"Woody earned the right to be the first person we talked to and turned out the only person we talked to because our discussion with him after the season really reflected why he was so successful during the season," Grunwald said on a conference call. "We thought he was the right guy for this team at this time."
He added, "Obviously there were names out there, had we opened up the search, that would’ve been called, namely Phil Jackson, the most successful coach in NBA history. But we felt Woody was our guy. We told Woody he’d get first crack at the job, and he hit it out of the park."
Sources indicated Jackson was interested — and Jerry Sloan may have been, too. But they’ll have to wait as Woodson gets what’s believed to be a three-year deal, the length of service left on the pacts of Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire.
"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," Knicks owner James Dolan said in a statement. "We saw a significant improvement since Mike took over and believe our team will only keep improving under Mike’s direction."
Grunwald, a former Indiana University teammate of Woodson’s, went on to explain that Woodson’s interview was what he and Dolan wanted to hear.
"It was combination of his work during the season and his interview after the season where he talked philosophy, how he wants to play, how he’d use the players we’d have," Grunwald said. "How he’d have done things differently had we had a full season and full training camp. What his expectations and goals were for the team and how realistic he thought about taking the next step and how he’d go about doing that. He did a great job with that."