After four grueling years, coach Mike Woodson's Hawks finally broke through with a playoff berth this season. And now he's being rewarded with a two-year contract extension to see if he and his staff can build on the progress made in their first round playoff series with Boston."I appreciate my players voting for me to be their coach," Woodson said before signing his new deal. "You might not know this, but I love coaching and I love my players."
Woodson's current deal expires June 30, as do the contracts of his entire staff. But after two weeks of evaluations, new Hawks general manager Rick Sund decided to stick with Woodson by offering him that two-year deal.
The decision to keep Woodson, wraps up a strange affair that began with February's revelation that Sund's predecessor, Billy Knight, had tried to fire Woodson at the trade deadline, a move that was rebuffed by ownership.
Woodson's team weathered that storm and went on to snag the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth, the franchise's first postseason bid in nine years, and pushed Eastern Conference champion Boston to seven games in that first round series.
Knight resigned two days after their Game 7 defeat in Boston, setting off a flurry of speculation about Woodson's future that lasted until June.
In four years at the helm, Woodson has compiled a 106-222 regular season record, surviving seasons of 13 and 26 wins before guiding the Hawks to 30 and 37 win season in his last two years.
"What I can tell you is that I appreciate the support my players and staff have shown throughout this time," Woodson said. "They've all been great. And we're all looking forward to the future and what can be accomplished going forward."
SEASON HIGHLIGHT: The Hawks' hair-raising run to Game 7 against Boston in their first round playoff series woke up a slumbering fan base and put the rest of the league on notice. The Hawks showed the world that there is more to the franchise than just a dysfunctional ownership group and mixed up front office crew. There's also some talent on hand.
TURNING POINT: Mike Bibby's acquisition at the trade deadline changed things dramatically for the Hawks. They went 16-17 with Bibby in the lineup and ended an eight-year playoff drought with Bibby at the controls. The veteran point guard provided everything the Hawks needed to get to the postseason but fell flat against the Celtics.