Knicks add Woodson to coaching staff

Published Aug. 29, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

The New York Knicks hired former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson on Monday as an assistant to Mike D'Antoni.

Though frequently considered a defensive specialist, Woodson made clear during a conference call that he can help D'Antoni in many roles.

''I'm just a coach that's looking for an opportunity. I have experience and I'm just excited about the opportunity,'' Woodson said. ''That's all a coach in this league can ask for.''

Woodson led the Hawks to three playoff berths in his six seasons in Atlanta, but was let go after they were swept in embarrassing fashion by Orlando in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.

He interviewed for the Detroit job that instead went to Lawrence Frank and also was a candidate in Houston, but now will try to help D'Antoni address the Knicks' struggles on the defensive end.

Yet D'Antoni also tried to downplay the notion of a ''defensive specialist.''

''I don't know where that came from, other than people writing about it,'' he said. ''But he's a good coach.''


Woodson began his pro playing career with the Knicks as the No. 12 pick in the 1980 NBA draft out of Indiana, where he played with former New York coach and president Isiah Thomas, and current general manager Glen Grunwald.

As an assistant to Larry Brown in Detroit, Woodson was credited with building the defense that helped the Pistons win the 2004 NBA championship. He was then hired in Atlanta, where he increased his win total every year from 13 in his first season to 53 in 2009-10. But the Hawks lost their four second-round games to the Magic by an average of 25.3 points, the most lopsided sweep in NBA history.

He gets back to work now with a Knicks team that has plenty of offense with Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, but remains one of the league's poorest defensive clubs. D'Antoni's strength has always been his offensive schemes, and Woodson said he can offer input in that regard, as well as working with young players.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.