Sources: Woodson to return as coach

It’s not a matter of if, but when.

Knicks interim coach Mike Woodson has been told by owner James Dolan in recent days the club plans to bring him back for next season, according to two people familiar with the situation.

As expected, Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald recommended Woodson’s return and Dolan was on board, realizing the 3-1 first-round playoff deficit to the Heat was not the coaching staff’s fault because of a spate of injuries.

The Knicks will not announce Woodson’s return until after the season, once a new contract — possibly for three years — is hammered out.

Woodson on Tuesday denied a published report the Knicks already had started negotiations with him and agent Joe Glass.

"No, I have not,” Woodson said. "It’s not true. Not at all.”

The Knicks’ anticipated tango with coaching legend Phil Jackson never materialized. According to multiple sources, the Knicks never contacted the Zen Master.

The Knicks did not get the impression he was interested. But they will never know if he would have accepted the job because they never asked.

According to a source, Jackson wanted Woodson to get the job. Jackson’s mentor, Red Holzman, drafted Woodson, and the Knicks interim coach invoked Holzman’s name often.

Woodson guided the Knicks to an 18-6 regular-season finish after taking over from Mike D’Antoni on March 14.