Woodson says he's not worried about keeping job

Head coach Mike Woodson of the New York Head coach Mike Woodson of the New York Knicks reacts during the game against the Miami Heat. (April 15, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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ATLANTA -- Mike Woodson received congratulatory phone calls from friends Thursday after the Knicks clinched a playoff spot. As gratifying as it felt, he knows it doesn't assure him of a stay in New York.

Two seasons ago, Woodson guided the Hawks to a 53-29 record and the second round of the playoffs. But he was let go and was out of the league last season. After what he's done since replacing Mike D'Antoni last month, Woodson won't have trouble finding work this offseason, but it might not be with the Knicks.

Woodson has thought about that, but he's planning to do everything he can to lead the Knicks deep in the playoffs, get the interim tag removed from his title and coach Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler again next season.

"I want to finish the job," Woodson said before the Knicks fell into a tie for seventh place when the 76ers beat the Pacers in overtime Saturday night. "Depending on where this team goes, I want to be the guy who's in charge running the show and finishing. That might not be in the cards. I don't know. But I'm not going to sit here and complain about that."

Woodson, who takes a 15-6 record into Sunday's game against his old team, has been around the NBA for roughly 30 years as a player and coach. He understands the business, especially in New York, where he began his playing career in 1980. It's a big city that craves the biggest stars and biggest names.

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Phil Jackson and John Calipari are lurking, and both have ties to the organization. After winning a national title with Kentucky and having all five starters declare for the draft, Calipari could be tempted to return to the NBA. The former Nets coach's appeal may never be greater.

"I can't worry about that," said Woodson, who won an NBA title in 2004 as an assistant in Detroit under Larry Brown. "I can't do that. If I'm looking over my shoulders about my job, I can't do my job. I can't do it.

"I do think about my future. But I'm a very secure person in what I do. I can't control things sometimes in this league. If I could control the Atlanta situation, I probably would still be in Atlanta. I couldn't control that at all. And I can't control what's out there now with this organization."

What Woodson does control is how he prepares the Knicks for the final three regular-season games and the postseason.

When D'Antoni resigned, the Knicks were 18-24 and had lost six straight. In addition to challenging Anthony, Woodson brought accountability and inspiring defense back to the Knicks, and they responded.

Even after losing Stoudemire for three weeks and Jeremy Lin for the season, Woodson kept the Knicks focused on the postseason. They're going back for the second straight year and believe they can go far. "Just over the past few months of play, how great it's been under Mike Woodson," Stoudemire said. "We feel confident about him, we feel great about our players and we feel like we can do some damage in the postseason."

That's Woodson's goal. "We're supposed to be in the playoffs," he said. "This team is too good not to do that. It's great it happened. I'm excited, but there are far bigger things.

"We still got a long way to go. I've seen a title won when I went to the playoffs one year. That's the only thing on my mind: I sleep, eat, trying to get back to a title game to see if we can win it. That's why I'm in it. That's the only reason why I'm in it."

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