New Head Coach Mike Woodson

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Atlanta GM Billy Knight has finally hired a head coach for the Atlanta Hawks. Knight hired his 1983 Kansas City Kings teammate and until recently Detroit Pistons assistant head coach Mike Woodson. Woodson had been first in line to replace Larry Brown should Brown pull one one his trademark exits but now he will have his own team to run, as he becomes the tenth Hawks coach of the past thirty-six years.

Woodson inherits a team with just a handful of players under contract and a bevy of small forward-shooting guard types taken in the draft, headlined by sixth overall pick Josh Childress of Stanford. It will be up to Woodson to implement the tenacity of Detroit's defense and the excitement of up-tempo basketball to a group of players who won't even know their own teammates come October.

Knight is looking to find a way to spend some of the $20 million in cap room Atlanta has available. He is reportedly looking to bring in New Jersey Nets big man Kenyon Martin for a visit this week. Martin would be by all definitions a huge addition to a small team. He would make the starting lineup lack only one hole, a center, a hole that virtually every team in the league seems to have to one extent or another. Meanwhile, Martin would likely join Childress, Boris Diaw, and Jason Terry in the starting lineup.

Would the Hawks consider Erick Dampier as well, to fill their center need? More importantly, would Dampier consider the Hawks?

Woodson has four guaranteed years with the Hawks, but given Atlanta's recent penchant towards paying people not to coach the Hawks, if they still haven't made the playoffs by 2007, expect Woodson to join former coaches Lon Kruger and Terry Stotts on the list of former Hawks coaches that continued to get paid for doing nothing.

Let's hope the rest of this summer gives Woodson something to work with over the next few years.

The Hawks will participate in the Reebok Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake City, Utah from July 16-24. Their first game will be versus the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, Friday July 16th at 4:00 p.m. EDT/2:00 p.m. MDT. Other teams participating in the RMR include the Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Seattle Sonics, and host Utah Jazz. The remainder of their RMR schedule is as follows:

*Friday, July 16th - Charlotte - 4:00 p.m. EDT
*Saturday, July 17th - Seattle - 6:00 p.m. EDT
*Sunday, July 18th - Bye
*Monday, July 19th - Phoenix - 4:00 p.m. EDT
*Tuesday, July 20th - Dallas - 6:00 p.m. EDT
*Wednesday, July 21st - Bye
*Thursday, July 22nd - Utah - 10:00 p.m. EDT
*Friday, July 23rd - Bye
*Saturday, July 24th - Portland - 4:00 p.m. EDT

The Hawks will formally announce Woodson as head coach on Thursday.

According to an informal online poll byThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Woodson was the third-favorite pick of fans as to who they favored to coach the Hawks. The top two choices were Dwayne Casey and Mike Fratello. Indiana associate head coach Mike Brown, the other finalist for the job, was a distant fourth.


Michael Lee ofThe Atlanta Journal-Constitutionwrites: The Hawks and Detroit Pistons assistant Mike Woodson have agreed upon a four-year deal that will make Woodson the 10th coach of the franchise since it moved to Atlanta in 1968.Woodson replaces former coach Terry Stotts, who was fired on May 6, and will become the Hawks' fourth coach in the past five years. "We have an agreement," said general manager Billy Knight, who would not discuss terms of the contract Monday. "We think it's a good situation for us and a good situation for him." The hiring will not be announced formally until Thursday. Woodson is home in Houston, where he told the Detroit Free Press he is waiting for his contract to be faxed or shipped so that he can sign.

Phil Jasner ofThe Philadelphia Inquirerwrites: In unrelated developments, there were reports last night that Pistons assistant coach Mike Woodson, a former Sixers assistant, had agreed to become the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. Woodson had not yet signed a contract, but there was additional speculation that Pistons assistant Herb Brown would be joining Woodson's staff.There also was speculation that Pistons coach Larry Brown was considering former Sixers assistants Garfield Heard and Bob Bender as additions to his staff.