Sunday, May 9th, 2010 at 5:00 am  |  20 responses

Mike Woodson May Be Coaching For His Job

by Tzvi Twersky

As Game 3 neared conclusion, you could see the disappointment and tension on coach Mike Woodson’s face. After losing by 30 in the game to Orlando, Woodson’s Hawks find themselves down three to zero in a best of seven series. The huge loss, plus the need to win four straight, were certainly the cause for much of Woodson’s concern. They weren’t responsible for all of it, though.

Woodson’s contract is up for renewal in June, and according to most, the coach very well may not be brought back if the Magic sweep his Hawks.

Before Game 3, before the demoralizing defeat, Woodson told Chris Sheridan that he’s indeed in a tough spot:

“I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” Woodson said Saturday prior to Game 3 of the Hawks-Magic series.

Woodson’s situation is similar to that of Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who most recently said he was 90 percent sure he’d be back coaching the Lakers next season after his current contract expires. In Jackson’s case, ownership’s desire to have him take a pay cut will be a contributing factor as to whether he returns.

In Woodson’s case, it’ll be a question of whether the Hawks ownership group will even want him back.

Woodson was in a similar situation two years ago, but he solidified his job status by extending the eventual NBA champion Boston Celtics to a seventh game in their first-round series.

“Well, it’s nothing new,” he said. “I’ve been there before, a few years ago. It’s what it is, I’m under contract until the end of June and I’ve still got work to do.”

Under Woodson’s leadership, the Hawks have improved every season, going from 13 wins in 2004-05 to 26 the following season, then 30, 37, 47 and 53 victories. Last season was the first time since 1999 that Atlanta made it to the second round, but they were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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  • J.C.

    Woody’s done a great job turning the team around but is he the guy to take them to that next level? On one hand the Magic are simply a better team than the Hawks and that’s not really on Woodson, but having said that they match up pretty well with them so you’d hope that could be leveraged into a win or two.

  • underdog

    It would be a mistake let Woody go after this blowout. Orlando is clearly the better team here (can’t wait the ECF). On the other hand, this team needs a proper franchise player, because JJ doesn’t seem to be the one, who can step up at playoff time.

  • underdog

    And I really like JJ, he’s one of my favourite players in the League, but I can’t help it, his playoff averages are constantly lower than his regular season numbers.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    This sitation reminds me of Detroit circa 03, with Rick Carlisle. They were constantly making the semi’s/CF’s, but couldn’t get over the hump.
    Larry Brown came in, Dumars traded for Rasheed Wallace (their final piece of the puzzle), and they won the ’04 Championship.
    Nobody has ever said winning was easy. Tough choices have to be made by the Hawks going forward this off-season. Just as importantly.. what happens with Joe Johnson this year? Will the Hawks owners be comfortable going over the cap and getting another star player ala Dirk?

  • OneStep

    They need to tear up their current offensive play-pamphlet and invest in a new playbook. I’ve never seen such a static offense in any pro-league. You would think that the Hawks coaches would see the fantastic ball movement that the Magic have and realise that it may be something that they could use. The Hawks have the talent but the system is failing that talent. As head coach Woodson must take responsibility and either change things or go. That said his players might consider pouting less and playing hard more.

  • RedRum

    It is obvious that Woodson is a good coach. He needs a couple of pieces to make this team really competitive. A proper centre and a backup centre/PF would help… they have gone stretches where they play 6-9 Smith as centre.

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    Hopefully his eyebrows grow back in time for his next job interview…

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Michael Scorn

    I would have fired him over the eye brow fetish. He always had that pervert look to him.

  • jedi420

    I’m surprised so many of you guys think he does a good job, I can’t believe how many times I’ve seen this team get blown out, for their talent level it’s pretty unacceptable in my opinion..

    Their offense is painful to watch it’s so stagnant, JJ just holds the ball for ages and usually ends up shooting low percentage jumpers..

    As far as I can see that falls on the coach to hold his players accountable and not let them just dribble out the shot clock and force up j’s, they need to up the tempo and move the ball, with decent low post guys like Horford and J Smoove and a ton of spot up shooters there is no reason for them to score in the 60′s and 70′s so often..

  • JD

    Hawks dont get rid of Woodson he steered them from a No.3 pick in the draft up to a No.3 seed in the playoffs in Three years, not many coaches can say that

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    Nobody is saying fire Woodson because the Hawks are getting beat. Even most of us Hawks fans didn’t expect the Hawks to win this series. We are saying fire Woodson because they took 7 games to dispatch a much less talented Bucks team and they are NOT EVEN COMPETING against this Magic team, not to mention the lack of an offensive system and the refusal to adjust from the switching defense caused them to lose winnable games all season. The Bobcats got swept, but they kept every game within 15 points. They never got embarrassed like the Hawks.

  • Shem

    Game 1 they lose by 43, Game 2 they lose by 30 and then they lose a home game. Is Orlando that good or is Atlanta that bad? I think it’s both. Hawks pulled a nice comeback after being down 3-2 to the Bogut-less Bucks but no way are they beating an Orlando team that’s had a weeks rest prior to the series. Hate to say it Hawks fans, but if the Hawks don’t atleast make this a 6 game series, Joe Johnson’s gone and so are the Atlanta playoff seasons. Orlando’s looking like the dark horse to win it this year.

  • ClydeSays

    I would have bet the Hawks pushed this series to at least 6 games. I’m not even a fan, but they have enough talent to win a few games in this match up. Maybe the Bucks series wore them out…

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Michael Scorn

    If ATL wants to keep not making it past the second round, then by all means, keep Woodson.

  • 6marjons

    i understand the sentiment behind this story but the title, is just a bad title.
    he’s a coach

  • http://stapledesign.com Spaceship Jay

    Imagine if Scott Skiles were coaching the Hawks.

  • RunningBrave

    I hate the Hawks. That stupid look on Josh Smiths face. Zaza “Fu*Kin” Pachulia. Outkast, Goodie Mob are cool though.


    Outkast and Goodie are cool. The Hawks keep pushin the isolation button toooo much.

  • J

    ^ agreed. they set a pick first then after passing through the the screen the ball handler (often times Joe and Jamaal) will dribble out the clock and shoot a tough contested j. or J-smoove will iso on the elbow and puts up again a contested shot. nice play.. man i really thought this series is going 7… this teams needs leadership. period.

  • Myung

    The Hawks cannot fire Mike Woodson (unless they do it before Game 4 tonight). You don’t fire someone whose contract is up this summer. They simply don’t have to re-sign him, which I hope they don’t. I’m wondering how many of the people above me are actually paying customers. Ask us how we feel about coach Woodson, and I think 90% of the people in the stands would say that he is a guy who is best suited to be an assistant coach in this league. I’ve met him a few times, and he is a very nice guy. However, I do NOT want to see him back on the sidelines next season, and it has nothing to do with this series or the last one. In fact, in terms of this ORL series, I blame the players way more than coach Woodson. There’s only so much a coach can do. If you lose by 30 at home, that’s not poor coaching. That’s really good execution by ORL and really piss poor effort by my Hawks.