Woodson running his new offense: Pick-and-whine

Here's Mike Woodson holding his breath, waiting for a contract extension.

Here's Mike Woodson holding his breath, waiting for a contract extension.

Most coaches would embrace a strong off-season like the one the Hawks have had and try to use it to build some momentum and excitement for the upcoming season.

But Mike Woodson is not like most coaches. He prefers to whine.

Woodson is entering the final year of his contract. He apparently wants to make sure everybody knows that. I guess the hope is, I dunno, somebody starts a Save-The-Woody write-in campaign. The combustible one spoke about his situation again this weekend to Yahoo Sports. Most of the comments echoed those he told our premier hoops writer, Sekou Smith, three months ago. But Woodson turned up the rhetoric, saying: “Am I a little disappointed that none of my staff and I were extended contracts this year? You’re damn right I am because we deserve it. … Any other coach probably would’ve been extended, without a doubt. … For us not to be extended is not right.”

You know what’s not right? A coach who goes 106-222 in his first four seasons and doesn’t get fired, only to then ask for a new contract after his first — first — winning season before the existing contract has expired.

The Hawks won a playoff series last year. Woodson wants to cash in. But the Hawks aren’t exactly in contract extension mode right now. General manager Rick Sund didn’t even give an extension to point guard Mike Bibby before last season. Why would he do that for Woodson, who doesn’t nearly have Bibby’s career resume? (Bibby got his extension after the season).

Sund could’ve fired Woodson when he was hired as GM last year. He didn’t. He gave him a two-year contract. He basically told the coach: “I think you deserve a chance to come back but I’m not committing to you long term. Let’s re-evaluate in 2010.”

It’s 2009.

If Woodson really felt as secure as he claims he is, he would coach the team Sund improved this off-season, take the Hawks to the next level and then use that as leverage in negotiations. Then again, maybe he’s just not as confident as he says he is.

207 comments Add your comment


August 31st, 2009
8:11 am

Could it be?


August 31st, 2009
8:12 am


August 31st, 2009
8:15 am

I still would have rather won the mega-millions, but this will do. On topic, I still can’t help but wonder if success found Woody (and the Hawks) by accident and he survived due to the soap opera that is the Atlanta Spirit.


August 31st, 2009
8:20 am

Excellent stuff! My distain for this junk of a coach is well known, but the best point is:

“You know what’s not right? A coach who goes 106-222 in his first four seasons and doesn’t get fired.”


Can I get an ‘Amen.’ Clyde?

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

August 31st, 2009
8:26 am

Pick and whine? At least Woody has finally come up with an offense that is more complex than: “Pass the ball to Joe Johnson, then stand around and watch. Complain if he has to force a shot as the shot clock goes off.” Give credit where it’s due, Jeff, the man has worked hard to improve himself this summer.


August 31st, 2009
8:37 am

not surprised at all. didnt he essentially do the same thing during the playoffs with boston? after a losing season and several blowout losses in boston didnt he bring up the idea that since they had pushed the c’s into a deciding game he deserved more time as a head coach after delivering 37 wins and got there because of a point guard named bibby?

this also may turn out to be the theme of the season as well. it could backfire on woody as he might not pull out of the station according to expectations and be out on the street waiting for another chance to build a team where he is given/has less including ownership patience to turn it around. the owners like he has kept his mouth shut and have that as one of the primary reasons he is still around. guess woody didnt get the message.


August 31st, 2009
8:45 am

He has a legit 10 man rotation now:
Josh S./Joe S.

While I don’t expect us to win a championship, I do expect for us to be competitive. That said, I don’t trust that Woody can manage the talent. Sure, we’ve improved each year. I’d chalk that to have several #1 draft picks and their naturally maturation. Iso Joe is our only offensive play it seems. I’ll give him a pass for the 13 win season. That said, nothing else he’s done would support him demanding a new contract. If he can improve from last year AND come up with some sort of offensive creativity, re-sign him. If he’s not capable of that, let him walk.

Al Beeski

August 31st, 2009
8:47 am

Schultzie, I usually disagree with you & your sarcastic point of view, but I must agree witcha on this one. Of course, if this were just another coach in the ATL, you wouldn’t of wrote this article. But everyone knows you and Woody are “best friends” who just can’t seem to get enough of each other. I agree with you 100% on this one, but write the article because you are a journalist not because you and the guy hate each other. He DOES NOT deserve an extension b/c he made the 2nd round of the playoffs, he is lucky to have a job after his first four years.


August 31st, 2009
8:52 am

“For us not to be extended is not right”

If I am Sund, that’s a BIG black mark against Woody right there. He now may have to win a second series to save his job. Personally unless he does that and hires an OC and has a team with a decent offensive plan to match his talent, Sund should replace him after this season. He also carries no weight with the refs, who always screw his team.

Good column to point this out, Jeff.

Mitch C

August 31st, 2009
9:00 am

Jeff, I agree with your assessment about Woodson. I’ve never particularly been a fan of his, and, to be honest, I thought he should have been fired the season before the Hawks made the playoffs the first time.

One has to wonder if the Hawks need to win 50 plus games, and have to get to the conference finals, for Woodson not to be fired. The Hawks have greatly improved, but I still think that they are a bit below the Orlando-Boston elites of the conference.

I think the Hawks can win 50 plus games if everyone stays healthy, but, as we know, the playoffs is a gamble. There will be a lot of pressure on Mr Woodson this season, and I wouldnt be a bit surprised to see the Hawks have a new head coach come next May or June.


Herschel Talker

August 31st, 2009
9:13 am

Schultzie – writing about this clown is as bad as writing about the WNBA (or Elmo, as you would say). This guy is a joke. The Hawks will take a step back next year because of this turd.

Jeff Schultz

August 31st, 2009
9:27 am

Mighty Quinn — a great question and I get the feeling we’ll know the answer to that next season.

Smart guy– thanks.

Al Beeski — You’re right, it’s no secret Woodson’s not fond of me. But honestly it doesn’t matter to me whether he has a job or not. His status is not a real high priority in my life — I write columns either way. I just think he’s out of line.

Mountain Jim — Thanx.

Mitch C — Eastern Conference is tough but Hawks’ expectations are up. Not a great combination for a coach.

Herschel — How do you really feel? Seriously, obviously MW knows he’s under microscope, regardless of what he says.

Jesse Jackson

August 31st, 2009
9:30 am

Has to be racism. You know, black coach, white GM, etc., etc….


August 31st, 2009
9:32 am

It’s hard to get excited about the new additions this summer when everyone knows Woody will play all of 6 players night after night.

Jeff Schultz

August 31st, 2009
9:38 am

Jesse, Jesse, Jesse …

The General

August 31st, 2009
9:48 am

“You know what’s not right? A coach who goes 106-222 in his first four seasons and doesn’t get fired, only to then ask for a new contract after his first — first — winning season before the existing contract has expired.”

You nailed it Schultz. The Hawks should achieve at a slightly higher level than last season. The biggest upgrade they can make is at head coach.

Astro Joe

August 31st, 2009
9:49 am

Woody puts it out there, for better or worse. He said that the team would shoot for home court advantage and 50 wins when the AJC ignored them (while Falcons fever was running rampant last October) and while he was dealing with a new boss. And he delivered. Someone stuck a tape recorder in his face and asked if he wants an extension… what is he supposed to say “Why should I be concerned about the ASG’s ability to make a decision about my long-term future?” Raise your hand if you think that ASG is going to hire Jeff Van Gundy, Doug Collins or Mike Fratello to take this team to this next rung. Sorry, Sam Mitchell, Bob Hill or PJ Carlesimo aren’t likely to do more (and likely less) than Woody.


August 31st, 2009
9:50 am

Recruiting doesn’t exist in professional basketball so I’m not sure why the Hawks would be inclined to extend him after they stuck with him for this long until the contract is almost up. Where else is he going to get paid more or receive more respect. He’s done an ok job but nothing mind blowing, I don’t see why the Hawks would just sign him to some new long term contract but I definately get why he’d want it.

Jeff Schultz

August 31st, 2009
9:58 am

The General — thanks.

Astro Joe — “Somebody stuck a tape recorder in his face” is not accurate. He was having a relaxed phone conversation with somebody, one on one, no pressure. Big difference. He orchestrated it.


August 31st, 2009
10:06 am

With the talent on this team anyone could get them to the play-offs,Woodson can EARN his money by taking them deep into the play-offs


August 31st, 2009
10:08 am

Jeff even you could coach this team to the play-offs what do you think?


August 31st, 2009
10:09 am

I like Woody, I pull for Woody to have a great year. But I have no confidence in him being to make in game adjustments, have a offense, or make any player better.


August 31st, 2009
10:10 am

Although I agree with some points made here particularly as it pertains to Woody’s lack of offensive creativity and 80’s style isolation plays. The teams biggest weakness may be their lack of team defense allowing the James and Wade’s of the world to get to the basket from the top of the key with no help, but I digress. I am not sold on Woody’s genius as coach but how quickly we forget what this man inherited when he was hired. NBDL quality players or CBA at that time or vets with overblown contracts at the end of their career which were impossible to move thanks to the Pete Babcock era. He had a completely blown up roster yet there has been progress each year. The Terry Stotts and Lon Kruger’s of this franchise inglorious history were give passes without the demand for their heads.

Perhaps if Woody was given a sense of security we can really see what this team could become. Each year he has had to show he belongs at the helm, thus Joe Johnson will continue to lead the league in minutes played and be worn out come playoff time. A coach fighting to keep his job will generate wins anyway he can if that means riding his stallion until he becomes a mule or letting his enigmatic power forward have delusions of grandeur as a jump shooter without recourse to prevent the yearly dust ups.

If this team is to organically grow into a championship team you have to make the commitment to Woody now or get off the ride while this team still has momentum to get down the track. As it remains the point can be made that Woody deserves a new contract. If a move was to be made it should have happened by now, the ASG created this monster.

SWAT Native

August 31st, 2009
10:10 am

I’m not a big Woodson fan either, but I think that Sund may be doing the team a disservice by not extending him. Woody coaches like he knows he’ll get fired any day, so he shortens his rotation, won’t take much of a chance on developing rookies and runs Joe Johnson into the ground by playing him too many minutes. I think that the year that people say he should have been fired, he had a key player die during minicamp that it took more than a month for the team to recover from and a bunch of injuries during the season. His performance last year should have earned him an extension of at least two years (remember, most “experts” had the Hawks falling back out of the playoffs and imploding from the friction between Woody and J. Smith). Instead, they win 47 games, host and win a first-round series.

As for the overwhelmingly losing career record, remember he had to build a team around a bunch of raw high school and one-and-done college players and journeymen; the core of his team (other than Joe) was 21 or less when he started. I remember the Hawks being broadcast on national TV for one of their pre-season games back when Woody started, and Doug Collins (who some around here would make a good replacement for Woody) commenting that he hoped that the Hawks could be patient with Woody because looking at the players he had, it would take a few years before they would be any good. Seems like Woody was right on schedule.

Also, I think that coaches are a fraternity and they pay attention to how their brothers are treated. If Woody does get fired, it may be harder to attract a good coach because ths may not be seen as an attractive job.


August 31st, 2009
10:28 am

IMHO, Woody has whined about what he doesn’t have ever since he got here. The thing is, he knew he inherited a reclaimation project when Billy Knight hired him.

Ever since we let bonafied head coach. We’ve had college coaches (Kruger), interims (Stotts), and assistants (Woody). At some point, I’d like to see what our team could do with a coach that actually implements an offensive style of play that suits the players on the roster.


August 31st, 2009
10:40 am

To be fair, Woody coached some absolutely horrible teams that were not fit for an NBA schedule in accumulating that eyesore of a record.

He has done just enough to keep his job each year, never exceeding expectations but always just meeting that minimum threshold to keep hanging around.

If I wasn’t a Hawks fan by birth I couldn’t stand watching this team, despite its stock of exciting young players, because of how poorly coached they are on offense. No wonder Charles and Kenny gave us the business at every opportunity in front of that national television audience. It is appalling to watch top level professional players stand around dribbling the basketball until the end of the shot clock and then attempt to go one on five. We have no sets and hardly any plays – how many times have you seen the team come out of a timeout and get an easy bucket off of something that was drawn up in the huddle? Does that ever happen?

I also think Woody is quite possibly the worst game manager in the NBA. Though he has improved marginally in this regard, his use of timeouts always baffles me.

His constant whining and image positioning in the media always rubs me the wrong way – in the series with Miami when the Hawks went down 2-1, the Woodster went into spin mode, talking about how the Heat were such a great team with all these playoff veterans and how his Hawks were still learning. Nevermind that the Heat won, what, 15 games or so the year before while your team pushed the world champs to the brink?

I don’t think this guy could ever win a championship – he will always be exposed against the better coaching staffs in the league, and therefore would require a significant edge in talent. There is not a wide enough talent gap in the NBA to cover that weakness.

He’ll probably win another 1st round series and a couple games in the 2nd round and hang around for another one or two year extension; then we can hear him whine some more about not getting his long-term deal.

Astro Joe

August 31st, 2009
10:40 am

Jeff, was he asked about his contract situation or did he proactively “whine” about his contract situation?


August 31st, 2009
10:44 am

Woodson can go Kick Rocks…

I posted this on Sekou’s blog last night:

Woodson needs to stop Crying. IT’s his fault that his team is developing faster than he is….PERIOD. Harsh, I know; but it’s so true. He’s had a better squad each and EVERY year. And every year his player rotations have gotten worse and Worse. At MOST he deserves a little mid season bonus for coming up with a solid defensive “scheme” last season, but thats about it. He still doesn’t make good in-game adjustments, and the only reason were not calling for his head is because our General Managers are getting him better players which, makes him look like a better coach.

Make no mistake about it though. Better coaches have done a lot more with FAR LESS talent(Larry Brown last season almost had the cats in the playoffs).

Like I said, out team is out growing him. Were getting organically better AND adding better talent, but woodson’s coaching hasn’t changed. This is what I personally wanted to see though. I wanted Rick Sund to give Woodson a LOADED roster to see what he was really made of. We’ll this season; seems like the right time to find out, we’ve got a nice roster shaping out…..oh yeah!! His offensive schemes(does he have any?) SUCK!

Jeff Schultz

August 31st, 2009
11:01 am

Blind dog — I’m sitting by my phone, waiting for Gearon’s phone call.

SWAT native — If team has any sense next season that Woodson is grumbling and does not coach this team the best he can, he’ll be gone. I doubt that will happen though because it wouldn’t reflect well on him when he tries to get another job.

Astro Joe — I don’t think it matters whether he was asked about the contract the first question or the 10th, or whether be brought it up or the interviewer brought it up. My point is that it wasn’t a tense/post-game/locker room type situation where 10 media members are firing questions at him and emotions were high. It’s August and it was a one-on-one and he had plenty of time to think through responses.


August 31st, 2009
11:14 am

I think that Mike Woodson needs to forget about the contract extension for right now and just focus on the season ahead. What I think Rick Sund wants to see is consistency, and improvement. The hawks just had their best above .500 season sense a decade. They have a chance to be even better this year and could surprise folks if they beat out the magic for the southeast division crown. All Mike Woodson has to do is improve his team better than last year, have a better record than this past seaon, make the playoffs, and play better in the playoffs this season because they looked inconsistent and horrible this past playoffs. If Mike Woodson and his team can accomplish these things which I think they could if they avoid season long injuries, Mike Woodson WILL get the contract extension that he deserves.

Chef montuer

August 31st, 2009
11:16 am

Should have signed Mike Vick


August 31st, 2009
11:37 am

Shultz, what coach would have won with an AAU team in the NBA?
With the AAU team put together 5-4-3 years ago, what do you seroiusly expect more than 106-222? Are you kidding? The Hawks have not had the talent to win until Bibby got here. Woody has actually coached this group up. We have had guys getting better but we have nowhere near the talent most of you speak of.
Of course Woody is pissed. If Sund does not extend Woody, the next coach will demand a lot more.
Integrity/Continuety counts Sund, extend him and establish integrity from the top down without the drama coaching the team.


August 31st, 2009
11:47 am

I think the opinion of vets like Bibby, Johnson, and Crawford in the summer 2010 will be key to whether he stays or goes. They’ve all played for much different (better) coaches and need to speak up if they don’t like what he’s doing, because it’s their careers that will be judged by the success of this team.

The Truth

August 31st, 2009
11:52 am

I have been trying to avoid the Woody bashing train (for now), but I will say this:

Woody runs his PR Stunts like he runs his offense, VERY PREDICTABLE. Lately he’s been low balling expectations to set us up for a marginally improved season. We’ve seen this trick before. Since the pressure is clearly on him with a perceived improved roster against an even stronger competitive east, this offensive PR blitz was expected. It’s called CYA. If you notice, he is trying to build talking points if he comes up short:

“I’m not saying we’re the Bostons or the Clevelands, but I know we’re deep enough to compete with those teams on a night-in-and-night-out basis. I think we proved that last year. Boston and Cleveland are the top two teams with Orlando being right there as well in the East.”

Translation: We are going to lose to Boston, Cleveland and Orlando but we will compete. “But we will compete” is like saying we will show up and play an entertaining game and then lose. There is no other way to spin this. How can he motivate and inspire his players to win against these teams with that kind of pep-talk? If you think you dare not, you don’t.

Since we finished the 4th seed behind these teams, according to Woody in an underlining way, there is no place to go but down or hopefully maintain the 4th seed which is what he counting on.

George Holman

August 31st, 2009
11:53 am

Woody needs to appreciate the loyalty that the team gave him during the horrible years. Few franchises would have stayed with anyone that long given the circumstance. So, I say shut up and play and everything else will take care of itself.

Spud Webb

August 31st, 2009
11:56 am

lol, keep it up woody. they’ll fire you quickly this season anyways & should’ve done it a while ago. The ONLY thing that’s going to keep this team from becoming elite, is WOODY.
So keep crying about your contract, you’ll be an assistant in the WNBA next year. ahhahahhahaha

Yunel Asscobar

August 31st, 2009
12:00 pm

Jeff – excellent article and perspective. Very few people in the real world are allowed to show the ineptitude this coach/staff have displayed over the years, and still retain their job [along with a two-year parachute]. The classlessness speaks volumes and merely draws greater attention to the 106-222 record. My advice? Shut up and coach; win and show improvement; the let the chips fall where they may. It’s not as if this ownership group has not shown immense patience.


August 31st, 2009
12:12 pm

Well-said Jeff!

swatguy: Are you serious? There was certainly enough talent before Bibby got here to do better than 116 games under .500. 116 games under .500! I submit that you’re contradicting yourself. Now tell me, did they finally put together winning seasons because Woody “coached this group up” or did they finally put together winning seasons because of the Bibby acquisition? I’d say it’s the latter. I’d say they made the playoffs the last two seasons because of the addition of Bibby & the NATURAL progression of some of the younger players. I’d say their improved record has little, if anything, to do with Woody’s “coaching.” Really, shame on the coach of any team that misses the playoffs after adding Bibby to the mix of Johnson, Horford, & Smith. How can you credit Woodson with coaching any team up or anything associated with player development?

jeffrey d

August 31st, 2009
12:15 pm

Jeff – THANK YOU! This man has made a lot of questionable decisions, and when we finally have a winning season, you still only felt like the Hawks were in the middle of the pack. At the upper end of the middle, but still. He’s done little to prove himself and plenty to get fired, and has never really caught on with the fan base (at least that’s what I get from reading the blogs).

Thanks Jeff. It’s good to see somebody call Woody out.

jeffrey d

August 31st, 2009
12:17 pm

Well….it’s good to see somebody important call him out. It doesn’t do much good when one of us just posts an all caps “FIRE MIEK WOODSON!”


August 31st, 2009
12:28 pm

I can’t believe this guy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Hawks are winning IN SPITE of Woodson, not because of him. What did he do with Acie Law, a lottery pick who everyone said had a bright future? He let him flounder on the end of the bench – he almost never saw the light of day. Any NBA personnel guy will tell you you can’t learn everything about a guy by watching him in practice – yet, Woodson never let Law play in games.

Josh Smith is an absolute athletic freak – yet, Woodson can’t get along with him long enough to tell him to quit shooting 18 foot jumpers. Smith should be much further along than he is, but as it stands, he’s getting by on athletic ability alone. He has virtually no basketball IQ, and while that is his fault, a large part of the blame lays at Woodson’s feet. Woodson’s the coach, and he’s supposed to coach his players to be better players, and put them in situations where they can succeed. He is not doing that.

Unbelievable. He’s had ONE winning season – ONE!! In a conference that, up until just recently, was WEAK. Unbelievable.


August 31st, 2009
12:30 pm

The real good ones never have to ask for an extension now do they?


August 31st, 2009
12:33 pm

Jeff great article as usual.

I think that that Woody might have sealed his fate with the contract cry through the media.

I must say I have supported Woody throughout his tenure with the Hawks although I don’t always agree with his coaching moves.

However I don’t think his coaching record of 106-222 is all on Woody. You can’t name 20 coaches in NBA history that could have done a better job with the horrible collection of talent he’s been given since he’s been here.

This summer was the first in which the ASG decided we needed more than a 3rd tier all star(JJ)to compete in this league. Even with the move we’ve made we are still several steps behind Cle Bos Orl and I would even throw Wash in that group as well.

My question is how will success be measured this season? We are not as good as Bos Orl & Cle, and I believe Wash made better moves than the Hawks to better postion themselves for the 4th seed. So if we finish 5th with 45 to 50 wins I think he deserves an extension. Clearly the sealing for this current roster is the second round max.

Don B

August 31st, 2009
12:34 pm

Take the roster you have for the coming season and show what you can do. You could not have asked for a better situtation. The first couple of years you could have excuses. Not the same with this year. Produce and the contract will come. If not, we will see who is available.


August 31st, 2009
12:34 pm

Gotta agree with this article. Josh Smith is the epitome of what little coaching Woody has done. JS is still the same player he was when he came into the NBA.

Mike is back

August 31st, 2009
12:35 pm

Shultz, I agree with you on Woody’s coaching record…he is truly fortunate to be still coaching any NBA team with those poultry numbers…and I will admit…I wouldn’t have lost much sleep if Sund had went in a different direction at HC…but I’m not at all surprised about Woody’s comments…he is just saying what he feels.

What coach in his right mind is not going to be disappointed in Woody situation…that’s the only point I’m making…his statement shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. He wants an extension…wouldn’t you…in that situation…jeez.

I’m not Woody’s defender…but I don’t see how this all correlate with him lacking confidence in coaching the most talented group of players he had since he became the coach of this team????????????????????????????????????????

Pistol Pete

August 31st, 2009
12:36 pm

Awful NBA coach.


August 31st, 2009
12:45 pm

i can see where he is coming from because athletes do it. Look at Roddy White. Had one great season after he couldnt catch anything and wants a raise. He got it. But there are way better coaches out there and the Hawks are now an interest to coach and to play for. We can get better now.


August 31st, 2009
12:50 pm

woody doesn’t deserve a contract extension for now … you’re spot on, he’s lucky he didn’t get fired after the 4 seasons. What Sund did was the right thing to do given the situation. Just b/c you win and get into the playoffs, does not guarantee you’ll have long-term tenure w/ a team .. just ask Avery Johnson or Coach Curry. Woddy is VEY lucky to have a job at this moment and i think this team would succeed under anyone

Some Sense

August 31st, 2009
12:56 pm

Gotta get one in for Woody. Yes, I wish he would just cool it w/ talk of (no) contract…he signed a two-year deal w/ a very pragmatic GM.

BUT, all the Hawks’ owners, and the GM, are very successful businessment, and they, if anyone, appreciate CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT, just what Woody has brought to the franchise.