As was first reported by Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro, the Phoenix Suns are expected to Mike Woodson to be the lead assistant on Igor Kokoskov’s coaching staff.
Note: updated to reflect that the Woodson news was premature, and that he is still discussing the job with the Suns as of Tuesday evening.
Woodson has had a proven track record in the NBA making pitstops as an assistant in Milwaukee, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Detroit before finally nabbing his first head coaching gig with Atlanta in 2004.
He never led the Hawks to a division crown, but three playoff appearances with no title push — two in the conference semifinals around the likes of Josh Smith and Al Horford — led to his contract ultimately expiring in 2010. Instead of bringing Woodson back, Atlanta decided to hire assistant Larry Drew.
After a year off, Woodson returned to the sidelines but this time it was under the bright spotlights of Madison Square Garden with New York. As the Knicks head coach following Mike D’Antoni being canned, Woodson was deemed the one to lead Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Co. to a deep playoff push but they were stymied by the Indiana Pacers in 2013, which caused a rather significant domino effect on the organization.
The next season, New York finished 37-45 while Woodson and his entire coaching staff were pushed out the door after 2.5 seasons.
In total, Woodson tallied a record of 315-365 (46.3 winning percentage) before joining Doc Rivers and the Clippers’ coaching staff in 2014 where he was ever since.
If you noticed during one of Woodson’s mentioned coaching spots, Detroit, was also shared by the Suns’ new head coach at the same time.
In 2004, Kokoskov and Woodson worked under the legendary Larry Brown concocting a championship winner behind their core of Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince.
As their main defensive coordinator behind Brown, Woodson was snatched away by Atlanta for a job upgrade while Kokoskov stayed in the Motor City until 2008.
After Woodson was let go by Los Angeles last week, many began to the connect the dots towards Phoenix with their hire of Kokoskov. Now, it makes perfect sense when you look back on their previous relationship together achieving the championship goal under Brown’s tutelage.
This is the first of many more hires expected to trickle out over the next few weeks as Kokoskov fills out the rest of his coaching staff. With no previous NBA head experience, Woodson was the most logical choice for the job unless someone like Steve Clifford wanted to take a back seat for one year.
With that spot now filled, we could see Kokoskov go varying routes such as more international experience or even hire a female assistant like Gregg Popovich did with Becky Hammon.
As Locked On Jazz’s David Locke let us know earlier this month, Kokoskov seems to have a very thorough plan already in place and isn’t afraid to step outside the box.
Update: Looks like the Woodson hiring is still in the works, but we have newer news that Corliss Williamson has been hired, per Scott Bordow of azcentral.com