Mike Woodson says he's grateful to still be Knicks coach
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If Mike Woodson harbors any ill feelings toward James Dolan for offering his job to Phil Jackson, the Knicks coach did his best to hide them Wednesday.
Woodson said he was not aware before Tuesday's news conference introducing Jackson as Knicks president that Dolan had offered his job to Jackson earlier this season.
Dolan, the executive chairman of Madison Square Garden, said as much on Tuesday, but Jackson turned him down because he is not interested in returning to the sidelines.
Woodson responded Wednesday by saying he is "grateful" that he is still the Knicks' coach and that he is focusing all of his energy on salvaging what's left of this disappointing season.
"This is Mr. Dolan's team," Woodson said. "He has every right to approach anybody about my job."
Noting the tenuous nature of head coaching jobs in the NBA, Woodson said he is thankful to still hold one of those gigs, regardless of the circumstances.
"I'm very grateful and happy to be a coach in the NBA and Jim gave me this opportunity two years ago and I'm still coaching the Knicks," he said. "I'm very grateful for that. I'm going to put my best foot forward to do the best job I can do. That's all I can do."
Although Woodson is under contract through next season, it's been widely assumed that Jackson will want to bring in his own coach next year.
When Jackson was asked about Woodson during Tuesday's news conference, he said, "Mike has shown that he's a very good basketball coach" and said only that they would have discussions at the end of the season "considering going forward."
Still, Woodson said Wednesday he was "pleased" with Jackson's comments.
"I still have a job to do," Woodson said. "We're in the midst of trying to get this team in the playoffs and we are playing better basketball. But I've still got a lot of work on my hands. I'm up for the challenge and I'm going to continue that as long as I'm here as a coach."
Woodson also said he met with Jackson Wednesday morning at the team's training facility in Greenburgh, but he declined to reveal anything from that conversation.
"I'm not going to go into that," he said.
But Woodson made no secret of his desire to continue coaching the Knicks under Jackson's direction, including potentially installing Jackson's famed triangle offense.
But if it came down to teaching that offensive system, Woodson flashed a smile and said his new boss' help would be welcome.
"Absolutely I could teach it, but it would be even better if he helped me teach it," Woodson said. "I mean, who would be better in teaching the triangle than Phil Jackson?
"He's had wonderful success doing it. If that may be the case and I get that opportunity, I know I can teach the triangle offense. It's basketball. It's what we do."
Woodson said when he was on Chris Ford's coaching staff with the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1990s, they experimented with the triangle offense.
"We fooled with it a little bit," he said, "but we weren't as good as Chicago and how they ran it."
Few teams were as good as those Bulls teams, or Jackson's Lakers squads, for that matter, which is what has made him so attractive to the Knicks in whatever role he wished.
Woodson said he understands that.
"Phil has a knack to win," he said. "He did it as a player. He's done it as a coach. As coaches we all strive to win titles. That's what it's all about at the end of the day."
The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.