Friday, February 23, 2018
Sports

Knicks fire Woodson

NEW YORK — Mike Woodson had the Knicks on top of their division and in the second round of the playoffs, destinations that had become unreachable and practically unimaginable in New York.

A year later, he was out of job.

Phil Jackson fired Woodson and the entire coaching staff on Monday, making his first big move since becoming team president in March and saying in a statement that "the time has come for change throughout the franchise."

The dismissal comes shortly after the Knicks completed a 37-45 season that began with their belief they were a serious contender.

Instead, they started poorly, making Woodson's job security practically a season-long distraction. A late surge wasn't good enough for a postseason spot or another year for Woodson.

It was a stunningly swift fall for Woodson, whose .580 winning percentage with the Knicks ranks behind only Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy, and who finished third in the NBA's Coach of the Year voting after going 54-28 last season.

He and the staff were informed of the decision Monday morning by Jackson, the man the Knicks originally wanted to replace Woodson as coach but preferred to run the team's front office.

Jackson has won a league record 11 championships as a coach. He has repeatedly said he's not interested in returning to the bench, so he will have to hire someone before he turns his attention to the roster. The team said the coaching search begins immediately.

Jackson said he has a "tremendous amount of respect" for Woodson and his staff, which included longtime Knicks assistant Herb Williams. Jackson called this an "extremely difficult" season and said "blame should not be put on one individual."

"But the time has come for change throughout the franchise as we start the journey to assess and build this team for next season and beyond," he added.

Woodson went 109-79 with the Knicks, who hadn't even made the playoffs since 2004 before he led them there in 2012. Carmelo Anthony praised his coach Thursday and even offered to back him publicly.

Also, the Jazz fired coach Tyrone Corbin after a 25-57 season. He was 112-146 overall.

around the league: Bulls center Joakim Noah was named league defensive player of the year, and as he accepted the award the former Gator recalled a grueling workout with coach Tom Thibodeau. "I told Thibs, 'If we weren't winning games, I would really, really hate you,' " he said. "And he said, 'Trust me, Jo, I feel the same way about you.' " … Stepping away from a 23-year career that included 1,042 victories, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman retired. Team president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said he'd prefer a candidate with head-coaching experience, preferably in the NBA, and would not rule himself out. … The league fined Raptors GM Masai Ujiri $25,000 for using profanity in a public place.

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