Monday, March 9th, 2009 at 10:00 am  |  30 responses

Mike Woodson vs Josh Smith

by Marcel Mutoni

Both men say their latest misunderstanding is a thing of the past, and it could very well be, but that doesn’t stop some from wondering aloud how much longer this player/coach pairing can last in the A.

Some of those doing the wondering are folks in the local media, and the blame is being laid at Woodson’s feet.

From the AJC:

Sixty-two games into the season, Mike Woodson and Josh Smith got into another spat the other night. We have watched this for five years. If their relationship were any more dysfunctional, they would be in the ownership group. This is March, not November. The playoffs start in six weeks. This is when NBA coaches are supposed to be finalizing rotations and good teams should be coming together. This generally is not when a head coach spontaneously combusts at halftime and benches one of his best, even if impetuous, players for the next two quarters.

They both arrived here in 2004. It hasn’t been a marriage. It’s been a pie fight. One of two things happened Friday night in Charlotte: Either Smith committed a violation so egregious late in the first half that Woodson felt the player had undercut his authority and was ripping the team apart. Or Woodson overreacted to something, anything, a noise in the ventilation shaft. I lean toward the latter.

Depending on what happens with the Hawks this season (they’re currently holding down the fourth Playoff spot in the East), should Woodson and Smith go at it again, it may be time for others — say, management — to reeveluate whether this marriage can truly work.

And should it come to that, it’s not exactly hard to guess who’d get booted out of the house.

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  • http://www.twofistedpress.com Pve84

    I’m still trying to understand why Woodson got an extension. The Hawks’ overall record under him is terrible and their recent success obviously has a lot more to do with the talent levels of the players themselves rather than the coaching.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Worth noting, perhaps, that the night after they got in their little argument, Josh went for 19, 12 and 4 blocks in the win over Detroit.

  • http://docfunk.blogspot.com Doc Funk

    Somehow, and I’m not sure how yet, this is Flip Murray’s fault.

  • maio

    Stop sh*tting on the coaches. Having to put up with overpaid spoiled children, vulture media, Shaq’s criticism etc with no job security?
    I guess the money is good, though.

  • Fred34

    So Lang you’re saying Woodson is doing some Zen master motivation a la Phil Jax?

  • Myung


  • http://www.nba.com iLL wiLL

    Josh needs to nut up and start going back to the way he is capable of playing.

  • Harlem_World

    Its a players league. Always has been, always will be. Not saying its right, just stating the facts. Woodson will be back coaching AAU in 2 seasons.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Never been a fan of Josh. Always struck me as one of those players that think they’re WAY BETTER than they actually are. Very limited skillset oustide of outstanding leaping ability and great timing on blocking shots out of bounds from the weakside in order for the opposing team to retain possession.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Mike Woodson is STILL a terrible coach, though.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    There are any number of reasons Woody could/should be fired and his relationship with Josh isn’t even one of the biggest reasons. It’s trivial when you compare it to his inability to develop young players, bad substitutions, lack of offense, two fouls and you’re out rule, Playing Flip, Bibby and Joe together….

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ BETCATS

    I am glad they sat Josh, it helped us win! 6 Strait Bay-Beeee!!

  • Colin

    Lang, you think this spat was a good thing? I trust your opinion I just assumed Woody will end up fired at seasons end.

  • Dubya

    Josh Smith is the best ALL around player on the Hawks. He does everything. I love the guy fantasy wise and he’s an extremely talented player he’s one of my favorites. If for some reason he needs a new home Phoenix hop on that get rid of J Rich or someone else

  • Myung

    Dubya, are you kiding me? How is Josh the best all around player on the Hawks? I agree 100% that he is a great fantasy player, but that doesn’t equate to him being the best all around player on the Hawks. Al Horford, Joe Johnson, and Marvin Williams are all better than Josh Smith when it comes to fundamentals (and all three players are solid on both offense AND defense).

  • Myung

    Co-sign both of Z’s comments.

  • bballer

    Joe Johnson is the best player all around player on the hawks team. Check yourself!

  • Myung

    There was a scene in Crimson Tide when Denzel Washington discussed the issue of war: to paraphrase, he said there are no winners. If you’re a Hawks fan (at least the majority of the ones I talk to) and the battle comes down to Josh Smith vs. Coach Woodson, I’d say there is no winner. I’d rather have a different starting PF AND a different head coach. But as I stated earlier in the year, as long as he’s our starting PF and he’s our head coach, I will support both of them because the Hawks are my favorite team and I support them, no matter if they are Chris Crawford, Cal Bowdler, Christian Laettner, or JR Rider. I still can’t stand either of them, but I’m not the Atlanta Spirit and I’m not Rick Sund.

  • Myung

    Tad, if you’re reading this… I went to the game Saturday night, but I didn’t take any notes, bro (thanks for the offer though). All I will say is this: the Pistons are a REALLY impressive defensive team, especially their starting 5. The only time the Hawks got easy buckets was when the 2nd unit came in (Hermann, Kwame, etc) for brief stretches. I can’t say I’ve seen a ton of Pistons games on TV this season (I’ve seen about 5 or 6 at the most), but they looked absolutely lost on offense this past Saturday. It seems like there is no rhyme or reason to their scoring. And believe me, I know about bad offense, since you know I’m a Hawks fan.

  • JoeMaMa

    There needs to be a vigilante group of former NBAers who take these NBA babies and spank them ferociously when they show their immaturity and lack of class. Really, can’t the league hire Charles Oakley to b*tch slap half the players in this league?

  • Dubya

    Joe Johnson is a beast no doubt but he doesn’t do the things Smith does. Smith is a constant triple double threat. Now have him train with Bron on handling and getting into the lane and wow he’d be so good

  • Myung

    Dubya, I agree with you to an extent that Josh has the potential to put up the best STATS on a given night. He can be a great rebounder and is a very good shot blocker. That being said, you saying he’s the best all around player on the Hawks is something I can’t agree with. There is a difference between saying someone can put the best fantasy numbers and saying someone is the best all around player on a team. Think Shawn Marion or Andrei Kirilenko. Those guys are stat stuffers, but they’re not the best all around players on their teams.

  • Myung

    The best I’ve ever seen Josh Smith play in his 4.5 seasons with the Hawks was in games 3 and 4 and 6 of the Boston series. For many fans around the country, this was the first time they had ever seen the Hawks and Josh Smith on national TV. If THAT Josh Smith was the same Josh Smith that player 82 games for the Hawks, I would be 1st in line to sing his praises. He was AWESOME in those 3 home playoff games. Unfortunately, THAT Josh Smith plays that well in about 20 out of 82 games in a given season. He is a career 26% 3 point shooter who somehow thinks he can hit 3 pointers (yet in that Boston series, he hit some HUGE 3 pointers for us, which only further cemented into his head that he is a 3 point shooter). I dare you to find even 5 Hawks fans at Philips Arena or who watch games on TV who DON’T cringe every time Josh Smith launches a shot outside the arc. Imagine if Dwight Howard, Shaq, or Sam Dalembert shot a 3; that’s the sort of feeling most Hawks fans get whenever #5 launches a 3 pointer. I’m not sure if “overrated” is the right term to describe Josh. I just think there is a different perception Hawks fans have of him, as opposed to the average NBA fan who doesn’t watch many Hawks games. Josh Smith is the most electrifying and athletic player on the Hawks; he is not, however, the best all around.

  • Dnice

    If they choke away the 4th seed, I think Woodson won’t be back.

  • Myung

    I’m not defending Coach Woodson, but I don’t think losing our hold of the 4th seed would be reason enough to fire him. If we’re going to fire him, then fine, let’s fire him, but let’s do it because his overall record as a Hawks coach is terrible or because he is a terrible game manager or because his substitution patterns don’t make sense or because he calls time out’s when he shouldn’t and doesn’t call them when he should. But if you’re going to fire him strictly based on our record, then isn’t he justified in keeping his job? After all, we won 37 last year and he got an extension. Let’s put it this way: if we wins just THREE out of our last 19 games, he’s won more regular season games than last season. Most national publications picked us to miss the playoffs and finish with around 33 wins. I’d say if we MAKE the playoffs for the 2nd year in a row, that’s a pretty decent accomplishment. While hardcore fans like myself have higher expectations, the reality is, this team has overachieved compared to what outsiders expected out of the team. If a Miami or a Detroit bump us out of the 4th seed, should that really be considered underachieving or a “choke?” As much as I hate to say it (because I’m such a critic of Woodson’s), if he gets them into the playoffs (and it looks very much like he will), then he shouldn’t be fired.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Yeah, I think the fight was a good thing. Basically, I want any fights/beefs within the team to be settled by the time the Playoffs start.

  • http://myspace.com/mavus15 Mavus

    Their going to lose Josh Smith.. if they trade him, they lose the future. Mike Woodson is ok, not great.. he’s not some offensive or defensive guru!! He can be replaced. You have to think about the future, and most likely Woodson is not in it.

  • Josh D

    It is difficult to work which one would go for me? Somebody tell me which one it is!

  • http://ittakesanationofmillionstoholdthissac.blogspot.com ciolkstar

    I’m not a Woodson fan at all, but you can’t blame Josh’s awful season on him. He just signed an extension, and has played like he doesn’t give a sh!t anymore.

    And my boy Joe Johnson needs to wake the F*ck up! I think he might have mono or something.

  • http://www.basketballjerseyworld.com NBA-JERSEY-KING

    @ Lang – keep on fighting and the Heat will take over that 4th spot….