New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was asked about the departure of his assistant Mike Woodson for Indiana’s head coaching job and couldn’t suppress a smile.
Woodson has been a valuable member of Thibodeau’s staff in his first year as head coach of the Knicks and together they’ve led something of a resurgence for the struggling franchise. The Knicks headed into Monday night’s game with the Miami Heat carrying a 24-22 record. That put them fourth in the crowded Eastern Conference standings, though the ninth-place Indiana Pacers were just two games behind them. The 24 wins are three more than the Knicks had in a truncated 2019-20 season and seven more than they had in full season in 2018-19.
Still Thibodeau said he was overjoyed to see Woodson get an opportunity to return to his home state and alma mater to be the Hoosiers’ head coach.
“We are thrilled for him,” Thibodeau said Monday in pregame availability, video of which was provided to The Daily Hoosier by Knicks public relations staff. “It’s bittersweet obviously. We’ll miss him. He’s an unbelievable guy, great coach, but it’s such an amazing story. We want to think Jim Dolan for allowing him to go along with Leon (Rose) and (William Wesley.) You gotta realize what this means to him. He’s a kid who grew up in Indianapolis as did his wife Teri. And of course playing there and the career that he had. It’s really a special moment. It allows him to realize a dream. There’s no one more deserving than him. He’ll knock it out of the park. We’re just thrilled for him and very excited about that.”
Thibodeau said the Knicks will look to promote for Woodson’s position from within the franchise.
Knicks power forward/center Taj Gibson was also asked about Woodson’s departure during shootaround availability earlier in the day. Gibson has played in just 19 games this season and not had that much time to spend with him, but he’s been impressed with what he’s seen.
“I’m extremely happy for coach,” Gibson said. “Just being around him this short time I’ve been around him, I’ve just grown to love the guy. He’s an old school coach, he’s a player’s coach. You’re gonna get a guy that’s gonna put pressure on you for sure but he wants to get the best out of you, he wants you to be the best damn player you’re capable of being. I’m really going to miss him coaching me. I really learned a lot from him. He’s one of those coaches who, he believes in you. … I’m really going to miss him being on the sideline with me.”
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