Woodson accepts Atlanta's offer

Updated: July 6, 2004, 12:36 PM ET
By ESPN.com news services

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks have reached an agreement with Detroit assistant Mike Woodson to become their new coach.

Woodson agreed to a four-year deal to replace Terry Stotts, who was fired May 6. Additional contract details were not yet known.

"They have offered the job and hopefully everything will be wrapped up sometime today and I'll be on a plane Wednesday night or Thursday morning for Atlanta," Woodson said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his home in Houston.

Woodson said he was still completing contract negotiations with the Hawks, but considered the final details to be minor.

"We think it's a good situation for us and a good situation for him,'' Hawks general manager Billy Knight told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.

The Hawks finished 28-54 last season, missing the playoffs for the fifth straight year.

"We've got a lot of work to do, we're kind of starting from the bottom up,'' Woodson said. "What better way to put your name on something and try to build than from the bottom up?"

Woodson, a top assistant for Larry Brown with the NBA champion Pistons, was a finalist for jobs in Toronto and Philadelphia the last two years.

Woodson said he was swayed by Atlanta's new nine-man ownership group and by his longtime relationship with Knight.

"I think the fact you've got fresh ownership at the top now that's made a commitment to try to do this thing the right way, and you've got a great guy in Billy Knight who I've known since high school," Woodson said. "We were teammates at one time as players. He hasn't wavered one bit in terms of our friendship and I think he looked at me in that regard as well."

ESPN.com reported Friday that Woodson, a Detroit Pistons assistant, was offered the job ahead of Indiana Pacers assistant coach Mike Brown.

Dallas assistant Del Harris, former Phoenix coach John MacLeod, Seattle associate head coach Dwayne Casey and former Cleveland, Atlanta coach Mike Fratello also were candidates.

Knight said he also spoke with TNT studio analyst Kenny Smith about the job.

Hawks spokesman Arthur Triche told The Associated Press on Monday night that no contract had been signed, and there would be no announcement until one was.

"Nothing is planned as of tomorrow," Triche said. "I think it will be later in the week."

Woodson was among the hottest coaching candidates in the NBA's assistant ranks. Knight acknowledged early last week that he planned to extend a three- or four-year offer to a coach, signaling that Woodson was Atlanta's top candidate.

It's believed that only a long-term deal could lure Woodson away from Detroit, where he serves as Larry Brown's lead assistant and ranks as a possible down-the-road successor for Brown with the newly crowned NBA champions.

Woodson, 47, will become the 10th coach of the Hawks since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1968. The Hawks finished 28-54 last season, missing the playoffs for the fifth straight year.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE