Mike Woodson's reward for guiding the Hawks to the second round of the playoffs and a 10-game improvement in the win column this season was another summer of uncertainty about his future.Woodson will enter the 2009-10 season in the final year of his deal. And there will be no extension offered, not even on the heels of back-to-back trips to the playoffs in over a decade for a franchise that was left for dead when Woodson took over five years ago.
If you think Woodson is sweating it, though, you're wrong.
He swears he can handle the stress that comes with lame-duck status, and he's convinced his team will handle it as well.
"There's always pressure, if you want to call it that," Woodson said. "I don't look at it as pressure because I'm not made like that. All these people talking about fire Woodson and all that stuff, it's never entered my mind. I swear.
"The chatter is what it is. But we're not going to do anything but keep pushing ahead trying to take another step next year."
Who takes that step with Woodson remains a bit of a mystery. The Hawks have four key free agents they have to deal with this summer. And Mike Bibby, Flip Murray and Zaza Pachulia are all unrestricted free agents. Marvin Williams is restricted.
It remains to be seen what Hawks general manager Rick Sund will do to restock and replenish the roster -- he has to be more active than his predecessor (Billy Knight) on the free agent scene. Sund also has a decision to make on draft night. The Hawks own the 19th pick and have needs up and down the roster.
Unlike during the Knight era, the decision made will include major input from Woodson, who joined Sund and his staff on the road for draft workouts across the country.
"I think we're all on the same page going forward and that's all you can ask for," Woodson said.
SEASON HIGHLIGHT: There were many in what turned out to be the Hawks' best season in over a decade. An eight-game December home stand netted seven wins and the Hawks topped that during a March home stand by winning seven straight. But nothing compared to the Hawks' Game 7 blowout win over Miami in their first-round playoff series, finishing off their first win in a seven-game series in 39 years.
TURNING POINT: It came early, as in the Hawks' 6-0 start, a breakout showing that almost reached seven straight until Paul Pierce shot a hole in that run with a buzzer-beating jump shot in Boston in early November. The Hawks kicked off the season with a runaway win in Orlando and then followed that up with another impressive road win a week later, in New Orleans. By the time they reached Boston for that early-season playoff rematch with the Celtics, the rest of the league had been put on notice -- the Hawks were for real.