Gearon is mum on Woodson but expects Hawks ‘to go far’

Mike Woodson has been the lesser of two coaches in the playoffs against Milwaukee.

The Hawks' Mike Woodson has been the lesser of two coaches in this playoff series against Milwaukee and his team is facing elimination. (AP photo)

You can tell a lot about a situation sometimes by the meetings.

Take Michael Gearon, for example. The Hawks’ owner had a five-minute, closed-door meeting with coach Mike Woodson at Philips Arena Thursday. Then he walked down a hallway and had a 30-minute meeting with general manager Rick Sund.

Gearon said he showed up after practice only for moral support, and that his meeting with Sund was about matters other than just basketball. But let’s be clear here. Mike Woodson is in trouble.

Even amid his supportive comments about the team and noncommittal remarks about Woodson’s future, Gearon said this: “It’s our third straight year in the playoffs and we expect to go far. I’m comfortable saying that.”

Sometimes it’s also what you don’t say that’s important. At no point did Gearon say, “Mike Woodson is my guy, regardless.”

With three straight losses to Milwaukee, the Hawks are one defeat away from taking a significant step back. Woodson’s contract expires after this season, and if the Hawks lose to the Bucks Friday night and get eliminated in the first round, there’s no certainty he’ll be brought back, even after a 53-win season.

Why? Because there’s an elevated expectation level among the owners and Sund.

Gearon, however, did his best to not make his coach the issue Thursday.

“We’re focused on winning. The only thing that matters to me is tomorrow night,” he said.

“You know me. I’ve never been a reactionary person.”

When asked if he could understand why Woodson’s status has become such a major issue publicly, Gearon said: “That’s what sports is about. We’re up two games, you and I are sitting here and I’m all positive and we’re having fun conversations. Now we’ve lost three in a row and we’re going, ‘Holy [crap], what do we do?’ That’s the fun thing about sports.”

Does Woodson’s status hinge on the team’s playoff showing?
“No — I’m not going to say anything other than what I said a couple of weeks ago: My focus is the playoffs and nothing else,” he said. “All I’m worried about is a 48-minute game and coming out on top, and then if we [win], I’ll be worried about Sunday. Anything else in respect to the organization is a postseason decision.”

This much is certain. The Hawks have been outplayed in straight basketball, nothing clever, for three straight games. Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles is getting the most out of his players. Woodson isn’t.

“They’re just beating us,” Al Horford said. “Straight up. Tougher than us. Better than us. Just playing better. They’re taking on the challenge, committing to defending and doing the things you need to do.”

And the Hawks’ reaction?

“It’s not at the level it should be,” he said. “We have more to us but we’re not showing it.”

You can put it on the players. But when a team melts down like the Hawks did in the final four minutes of Wednesday’s 92-87 loss, that’s also a reflection on confidence, preparation and coaching.

These last few games have not been Mike Woodson’s best moments.

Earlier post

Frank Wren’s problem: He hasn’t earned benefit of the doubt

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176 comments Add your comment

Dan the Nerd

April 29th, 2010
2:37 pm

What a debacle this season has become.

houstondawg

April 29th, 2010
2:47 pm

Can you say Jeff Van gundy and shot at the title game next year with a big man addition.

Drewcat

April 29th, 2010
2:49 pm

FIRE WOODY! (Keep Reading)

I’m usually not one to jump on the “FIRE WOODY” bandwagon but it really does seem imminent. Mike Woodson has this team underachieving, and its for two reasons:

1) Woodson’s basketball philosophy is all screwed up. We switch everything and the Bucks are carving us up! Last game’s commentators mentioned how reporters questioned why the Hawks continue to use their switching defense, and Woody replied: “It’s what we do.” A good coach knows how to make in-game adjustments, and even pre-game adjustments. The HAwks are tipping off every game of this series singing the same ole sad tune. They can’t play any defense and the Bucks have them running around the court with their heads cut off.
1A) It’s also obvious that we have no offensive scheme. Our offense is a joke, i’m sure everyone on this blog is aware of that so i won’t even continue here.

2) No leadership. Woodson is the sorriest excuse of a leader I have seen in a while. He simply allows Joe Johnson to run the team which is very dangerous. Joe is a very passive player and is not the right kind of voice to be leading anything. Sure he’s a talent, but Joe does not know what it takes to motivate others. And was it just me or does it seem like whenever the Hawks falter, Joe always seems to place the blame on Smoove subliminally? Like the comments Joe made about “we” whine too much to the refs, and we are playing with no heart. What about YOU, Mr. Johnson?? Where’s your heart? Woodson REALLY HAS NO CLUE AS TO HOW TO COACH THESE GUYS. All he does is watch the game just like a fan would. No control over his team.

This team is seriously on the verge of being blown up. Johnson will surely leave on a sour note if we lose @ the Bradley, and the Spirit would have to be smokin some serious ish if they re-sign Woody. Then that will leave us with Smoove and Horf to build around. Look for big changes in the HAwks locker room after this year.

sickhawksfan

April 29th, 2010
2:50 pm

the past 3 games have made me sick at my stomach!! in game 2 we dominated the paint.. now all we do is brick jump shots left and right.. Crawford looks so scared that it is amazing!! u could tell by watching the basketball roll off his hands wrong last night when he was shooting free throws… come on guys.. leave it on the floor… the bucks shouldnt be able to tote your jock straps so pick it up and lets go … the hawks have me pissed!

Chris

April 29th, 2010
2:50 pm

Woodson’s main problem is his total lack of any kind of offense. He may be a good coach but I get tired of the dumb look he has on his face standing on the sidelines. We need new blood.

woodys wood

April 29th, 2010
2:53 pm

Enter your thingy here…..

Dennis Felton

April 29th, 2010
2:55 pm

I can out coach Woodson.

Dr. Warren

April 29th, 2010
2:55 pm

The Hawks lack heart. They’re soft. Sportswriters across the Web have come to this conclusion today. But haven’t we seen this coming all year? It’s not normal for a team so talented to lose leads so frequently in the 4th quarter. It’s weird. Truth is, the Hawks should have won 58 or 59 games. You can’t blame it all on Woody–each of these guys has his own personality, and clearly, aside from Horford, none have the heart of a champion. That said, Woody lacks creativity; he lacks the critical thinking skills to adjust when Skiles throws a wrench in his plans; he lacks vision, too—why hasn’t Teague been brought along? He is quick enough to defend Jennings but lacks the confidence. It’s Atlanta sports, folks–and it will be a long, long summer. The real question is–when we will get some new owners?

Drewcat

April 29th, 2010
2:56 pm

Let’s all face it, whether the Hawks win or lose this series is beside the point. The Hawks are not built to make any noise in the playoffs. Let’s say they do come back and win Games 6 & 7. Does anyone like them to win a game against Orlando?? UH UH DID’NT THINK SO!
This team is gifted, but we cannot play beyond our talent, which is a direct reflection on the coaching. We can grind out a series win against lesser teams like Miami’s ‘09 team, and MAYBE this year’s Bucks, but what happens when we face a contender?
WOODY has got to go. At first I took the angle of hime needing more time to develop this team, but that excuse is older than last month’s milk! Woodson can’t take this team anywhere, period.

Karl Childers

April 29th, 2010
2:59 pm

That Mike Woodson ain’t too bright….

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Chris

April 29th, 2010
3:01 pm

Most of these guys Smith, Williams, Horford etc. Have only had Woodson as a coach. Someone needs to tell Smith that he CANNOT shoot. When he shoots a jump shot I would pull him. Williams was red hot last night but did we feed him? Horford is a nice piece but he forces some bad shots sometime. I would not give up on this nucleus without giving another coach a chance first. I hard nose coach who can give these guys direction. I know it is a pipe dream but Phil Jackson’s contract is up.

Hollywould

April 29th, 2010
3:12 pm

Waddell, Woodson. I am crossing the w out of my vocab. May have to delete the c for cox as Braves are getting hammered again. When does football start?

Dave

April 29th, 2010
3:12 pm

This fiasco of a series with Milwaukee is actually a gift in disguise to the Atlanta Spirit group.

It has told them:

1) Woodson cannot coach, he cannot lead, and he cannot motivate the players to perform at their best when it counts the most. The Atlanta Spirit probably suspects as much, which is why they did not offer him a contract extension. Given what has happened in this series, absolutely NO Hawks fan is going to complain when Woodson and his coaches are NOT offer a contract for next year.

2) Joe Johnson is NOT a player worth a maximum contract. They can and should offer him the four-year, $60M contract offered earlier, because he IS a talented player who, under the right coach, may help this team much further in the playoffs, but he is NOT Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, or Dwayne Wade. If I (the prototypical, casual NBA fan) can see this, for sure every NBA GM and coach who is seeking to sign a free-agent can see it as well, so there will be NO max contract offer this summer.

Just my humble opinion.

Haul Pewitt

April 29th, 2010
3:13 pm

Mr. Sund, Mr. Gearon. I can’t use my real name, but I’m a coach at a major college, possibly in Georgia. If there is an opening with the Hawks, please accept this post on Jeff Schultz’s blog as an application. I’m highly accomplished and in demand, but my wife wants to stay in our current city, which is in easy commuting distance of Phillips Arena. Thanks for your consideration.

Tech fan

April 29th, 2010
3:14 pm

I’d like to recommend the Hawks hire Coach Pewitt.

allan in texas

April 29th, 2010
3:15 pm

The Players have tuned Coach Woodson out and if they lose this series there should be a coaching change.The next HC should have an idea of what he has to work with and if they will adapt to his coaching style by the halfway point during the 10-11 season.

Doug Moe

April 29th, 2010
3:18 pm

Hey, I’m only 72 and quite the motivator.

allan in texas

April 29th, 2010
3:19 pm

I believe they should keep Joe Johnson,however, if he wants to leave then hopefully the relationship is good enough between JJ and management to work out a sign and trade rather than have him walk away and get nothing in return.

Dick Motta

April 29th, 2010
3:19 pm

Doug Moe is not experienced enough. I’m 79 and one of the 10 winningest coaches in NBA history. Have toupee, will travel.

Whopper Dawg

April 29th, 2010
3:26 pm

I agree that this should not be a surprise. The tendencies they exhibited all year are being magnified in the playoff boiler. If they are ousted by the Bucks, they have to make a change with Woodson. You can’t go into next season without momentum and without a change you would do exactly that.

Hmmmmmmmm, let me think, maybe Scott Skiles would be interested, I sure ask heck would ask him.

Forest Gump

April 29th, 2010
3:26 pm

Stupid is as stupid does Woodson…..

whoisU

April 29th, 2010
3:27 pm

FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODYFIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY FIRE WOODY

Joe's place Joe speaking

April 29th, 2010
3:28 pm

Guys have some damn confidence!!!! Every damn one of you are acting like it’s already over!! I certainly can understand the pessimists but how many if you played sports?! If there is one thing I can tell you about sports is that it’s not over till it’s over!! Never give up!!! I have his feeling that we are going to win tomorrow!! I know it sounds crazy seeing as how we played so terrible the last three games but I truly feel that we are coming back strong with our backs against the wall!!! I had a bad feeling after game 2 because of the long layoff and the draft so everybody basicly forgot about us playing!! Including the hawks!!! Now they know it’s win or go home and if you seriously think for one second that the bucks are better than us then you need to be in mental hospital!! There is no way!!! And I mean NO way we lose!!!!! Have some fu***** heart and realize that our talent will prevail tomorrow!! Mark my words!!! Go get your tickets for game 7!!!! P.s. I don’t need any responses about how we have no offense and we have no coach or bibby sucks or joe johnsons not a leader or any other bandwagon nonsense! And it is bandwagon if when were good your all happy and when we lose it’s we suck. Now I’m tired of all this negative attitude!!!! Are you with me!!!

Greg

April 29th, 2010
3:28 pm

Not a word of support for the coach from Gearson… Woodson’s out-a-here. Anybody can see that.

NotRocketScience

April 29th, 2010
3:29 pm

This is not rocket science. The team takes on the personality of its coach which is passive. As Bill Parcells said, “you are what you are”. This team is a 50-win team in the weaker conference that has NO shot at playing in the Conference Finals let alone an NBA Championship.

As far as the not rocket science part:

Fire the Coach, hire Jeff Van Gundy, Avery Johnson, etc – a defensive minded coach and a name coach that has the personality to engage with his team and the viewing public. How the hell do you not bring “the energy” in a playoff game? Are you serious?

Secondly, let Joe walk. You do NOT give max money to a player that will never bring you an NBA title. Sorry, but he is not an elite player and can not carry a team on his own like Kobe and LeBron.

There is however another player that can carry a team to a title and thats Dwyane Wade. He has done it before with a cast of role players (Shaq was a role player not a superstar at the time of the Heat’s title). Horford and Smith are better than role players and Wade can carry this team to the Eastern Conference Finals. Do NOT give Joe Johnson the max contract – it will set this franchise back for the next 5-7 years as this team has already plateaued.

Again, let Coach Woodson go and do not give Joe Johnson a max contract. Chris Bosh doesnt even deserve a max contract. Dwyane Wade does and he needs to be here next year.

Julius Erving

April 29th, 2010
3:29 pm

If the Hawks will hire Billy Cunningham, I’d come out of retirement to play for him again. He’s a great coach.

ChippersLoveChild

April 29th, 2010
3:31 pm

“We’re focused on winning. The only thing that matters to me is tomorrow night,” he said.

Should read, “We’re focused on winning… with one of our franchises.” What a bastard, they deserve this with the way they handle the Thrashers.

Balderdash

April 29th, 2010
3:31 pm

I kind of admit to an admiration of whoisU’s testicular fortitude, Jeff, but please ban him to life to prevent future occurences.

nolerick

April 29th, 2010
3:33 pm

I will not be watching game 6, just makes me sick to my stomach to think about it.
Big ups to Zaza though for finally putting Jennings on his azz… I mean when does some one step up and stop that little floater? I mean this is the playoffs man, time to man up!

whoisU

April 29th, 2010
3:34 pm

LMAO @joe’s “talent will prevail” JUST STFU ROOKIE, TALENT dnt mean sh!1t , are you blind?

Beone

April 29th, 2010
3:36 pm

Woodson is clearly either (1) an idiot (2) insanely stubborn or (3) not capable of performing as a competent basketball coach at any level of competition – least of all the NBA. Come to think of it, he is likely all three!

Paddy

April 29th, 2010
3:36 pm

The problem with the Hawks may be Woody? The problem with the Hawks may be the players? The real fact is. The problem with the Hawks IS the ASG!

ChippersLoveChild

April 29th, 2010
3:37 pm

And after this series, for what it’s worth, even if the Hawks pull this out in 7, even if they bring back Joe, does anyone not think this Bucks team will be ahead of them with a healthy Bogut, Mike Redd, and two first round picks (from a team that actually develops and plays there picks not named Joe Alexander?). We are in trouble.

Craig

April 29th, 2010
3:40 pm

This team needs an enima after the season, which will probably be Friday, and keep enough to build on. They need to roll out the $$$ carpet for D. Wade and say goodbye to JJ. This team is one of the biggest under achievers to ever play the game.

MARK PRICE

April 29th, 2010
3:40 pm

I AM ALREADY ON THE PAYROLL, AND AMAZED AT THE STUPIDITY HAPPENING ON THE COURT.

Beone

April 29th, 2010
3:41 pm

And a prediction: If the ASG keeps Woodson as Head Coach next season, the Hawks will lose at least half of their fan base. Why would you not just try something different?

MARK PRICE

April 29th, 2010
3:44 pm

I CAN ALSO MAKE BIG SHOTS AT THE END OF A GAME.

NotRocketScience

April 29th, 2010
3:46 pm

Hey Joe’s Place Joe Speaking. I like the attitude but you still dont deserve a max contract and you can not lead a team to an NBA title. Joe Johnson is great not elite.

Just Being Real

April 29th, 2010
3:47 pm

whoisU

I take it you would like a new coach

truthspitter

April 29th, 2010
3:48 pm

Jeff Van Gundy: what a joke. This guy could not get T-Mac and Yao Ming out of the 1st round and people are calling for him to be the next coach. Most bloggers are not welled informed on the things they blog about

GOHAWX

April 29th, 2010
3:50 pm

Mike Woodson is a great coach in my opinion. His defensive philosophy? Switch on everything so Al Horford and Josh Smith end up guarding their ultraquick guards(Brandon Jennings, John Salmons) which also takes away Smith’s shot-blocking presence in the paint. His offensive philosophy? Run a 1-4 set for Joe Johnson aka “Iso-Joe” which is basically Joe vs the whole bucks team. We could go far with a coach like Scott Skiles, who actually gets the most out of his players.
FIRE WOODY

NotRocketScience

April 29th, 2010
3:51 pm

Phil Jackson couldnt get T-Mac and Yao Ming out of the first round.

McDonalds

April 29th, 2010
3:54 pm

I’ll hire Woody

Taco Bell

April 29th, 2010
3:54 pm

I wouldn’t hire Woody

Go Gator

April 29th, 2010
3:55 pm

whoisU: Don’t hold back, brother. Let us REALLY know how you feel.

GOHAWX

April 29th, 2010
3:55 pm

Marvin Williams was having an outstanding game in the first three quarters. Scoring twenty points with almost no missed shots while penetrating the paint and drawing fouls. What does Woody do? Bench Marvin for half the fourth quarter while running no plays for him in the time he did play. Jamal Crawford, Marvins’s sub, bricked shot after shot en route to a 4-18 shooting performance. Get a clue Mike, when a guy is hot, don’t sub him out.
FIRE WOODY

3DawgKnight

April 29th, 2010
3:56 pm

houstondawg:

No! – Jeff Van Gundy is not the answer!

GOHAWX

April 29th, 2010
3:57 pm

umm notrocketscience it doesn’t take rocket science to know that Phil Jackson never coached the Rockets

Reid Adair

April 29th, 2010
3:58 pm

“You can put it on the players. But when a team melts down like the Hawks did in the final four minutes of Wednesday’s 92-87 loss, that’s also a reflection on confidence, preparation and coaching.”

That says it all, Jeff. For all of the excitement and success of the regular season (compared to Hawks’ teams in recent years), the playoffs have been an absolute disaster.

oldmike

April 29th, 2010
3:58 pm

First off, we don’t have to FIRE WOODY. After Sunday he is no longer under contract. Just don’t, PLEASE DON’T extend him or resign him. This team needs a coach with vision and the ability to adjust. I am beginning to wonder how we ever won the 53 games (that should have been 60). Get ISO Joe outa here too. Find a true center. Put Al at PF. Make Marvie a role player. Give him 2nd unit minutes. Maybe he’ll blossom in that role. Or, find a way to get him the ball. This team just stands around pounding the ball going one on one WAY too much. Where is the offense? But haven’t we been saying this for the better part of 5 years now? It all looks the same. One definition of insanity is to do the same things over and over and expect different results. Witness the Hawks 4th quarter performances this year – and last for that matter. I can’t watch them anymore. Sports shouldn’t make you sick to your stomache over and over. And, even if they MAN up and win this series there is no way they compete with the Magic. They get swept right out just like last year.