The last time the Knicks were anything but an afterthought in the playoff picture, Mike Woodson was on their bench guiding a veteran team into the second round of the playoffs.
He’s more than just a throwback to better days for the franchise, and the Knicks formally interviewed him for their head- coaching vacancy Friday afternoon, according to a source. The New York Daily News was first to report the interview.
That 2012-13 season was the highlight of the last 20 years for the franchise, the only time the Knicks won a playoff series. While the bulk of the credit went to Carmelo Anthony and the cast of veteran players, Woodson did find the success that no one else could in New York.
The Knicks won 54 games that season, second best in the Eastern Conference. Tyson Chandler was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, J.R. Smith received the Sixth Man of the Year Award and Anthony finished third in the Most Valuable Player balloting.
But when the Knicks struggled the following season with 37 wins and fell short of making the playoffs, Phil Jackson was brought on as team president, and that spelled the end for Woodson.
While it was Jackson’s desire to implement the triangle offense that led to the parting, Woodson said in an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio last month that he would do things differently if given the chance.
“The thing I would change is I would delegate a little bit more with my staff,” he said. “When I went into New York, I was brought in as a defensive coordinator, so you have a tendency to do a lot. And then I got the head job and they hired new coaches around me and I didn’t delegate enough. And make them more of a part of it. I pretty much ran everything myself, tried to, anyway. But I would delegate a little more the next go-around, I think.”
Woodson, who had been a head coach in Atlanta before joining the Knicks — he was an assistant before ascending to the head job for the final 24 games of the 2011-12 season when Mike D’Antoni departed — has not had another head-coaching job since he left the Knicks. He served as an assistant coach for the Clippers under Doc Rivers for four seasons but sat out last season and the current campaign.
While Woodson is one of six candidates on the Knicks’ list of confirmed interviews who have had previous head-coaching experience, he is regarded as more likely to be brought on as a lead assistant or associate head coach.
Tom Thibodeau, who interviewed Thursday, still is thought of as the frontrunner for the job. Jason Kidd and Kenny Atkinson also are highly regarded candidates.
Mike Brown, who served as a head coach with the Cavaliers and Lakers and currently is an assistant with the Warriors, and Mike Miller, who went 17-27 as the Knicks’ interim coach this season after replacing David Fizdale (4-18), are the other candidates with head-coaching experience.