Mike Woodson on the Knicks not calling Phil Jackson: “I am glad they didn’t. Mr.Dolan made the decision to bring me back.”

June 5, 2012 – 5:30 am by Steven Cuce

Mike Woodson will return to the sidelines of the New York Knicks. The former Hawks head man and recent interim head coach of the Knicks has signed a multi-year extension to remain at the helm in New York. The interim tag has been removed from the man who led the Knicks to an 18-6 record after taking over for Mike D’Antoni at the end of the 2011-2012 season. Although the achievement may be very minimal in terms of losing in the first round, Woodson does deserve credit for guiding the Knicks to their first playoff win since 2001, snapping a 13-game losing streak.

Although the Knicks were a perfect model for inconsistency last season, Woodson appeared to be the perfect fit after D’Antoni resigned. And judging by the extension he just received, Woodson’s impressed and won over the Knicks ownership…for the time being.

According to reports, New York never made a play for Phil Jackson despite all the rumors. But with the coaching situation taken care of for now, the Knicks now must focus on some important decisions they must make this summer, including whether or not to bring back Jeremy Lin, J.R. Smith, and Steve Novak.

Mike Woodson joined 98.7 ESPN New York with The Michael Kay Show to discuss having any doubts regarding his job status with the New York Knicks, the Knicks playoff push playing a major factor in why he got hired as the Knicks head coach, the rumors of owner James Dolan asking him to fire his agent in order to get hired as Knicks head coach, the Knicks not pursuing Phil Jackson for their heading coaching vacancy and the Knicks staying healthy next season in order to succeed.

Did you ever have any doubt?

“Again when I was asked to take over the team that’s what it was about at that time. My only concern was trying to get the team into the playoffs and how far we could advance once we got in. Once we got into the playoffs Mr.Dolan came up to me and expressed that he wanted me to come back and we negotiated a contract and I am back for next season.”

Did you feel you needed to get into the playoffs in order to be asked back as head coach?

“No. Not really. Again that wasn’t my concern. It really wasn’t. The concern was getting this team to play well and getting our team back in a position to push for the playoffs which we were able to do and then we just happened to run into a great team: The Miami Heat. We weren’t able to escape that series, but I’m very pleased and happy with the way the season turned out in terms of where we are and where we are going. We got a lot of work to do this summer to get ready for next season, but I think the future looks bright.”

A lot has been written about you having to fire your agent in order to get this job. Was that true?

“That’s so untrue. I tried to set the record straight once I signed my contract that Mr.Dolan had nothing to do with me changing agents. That was strictly Mike Woodson’s decision, which I have that right to make that decision and I thank Joe Glass and his son, Keith, for everything they have done over the years, but it was time for me to part ways and I respect everything they have done and will continue to respect what they do as agents. I have a great deal of respect for Joe.”

Were you surprised the Knicks didn’t pick up the phone and at least feel out Phil Jackson and see if he wanted to come here?

“Well I am glad they didn’t. [Laughs] I got a great respect for Phil and what he has done over the years and he’s an excellent coach, but again I don’t call those shots. Mr.Dolan made the decision to bring me back and that’s how it was. I was able to negotiate a fair contract. I’ll be back coaching the Knicks next season.”

What has to improve for this team moving forward this summer to be successful?

“Well we gotta stay healthy. That’s the name of the game. This summer is very pivotal for guys like Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields and all of our young players to improve in terms of getting better. We have to talk amongst ownership with Glen Grunwald about Steve Novak’s future and trying to get him back in a uniform as well as J.R. Smith. All of those things come into play in order for us to get where we are going next year and who knows we may add a piece or two. You never know down the road. I liked the team we ended with, but it’s gotta be a healthy team. That’s what is important and injuries I thought played a role in how we played, but the team never quit and I was very, very excited and happy with the way we played.”

Listen to Mike Woodson on 98.7 ESPN New York here

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