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Hawks sign Mike Woodson to new two-year contract

ATLANTA - Rick Sund's first two weeks as general manager of the Atlanta Hawks convinced him the team is moving in the right direction and should keep Mike Woodson as coach.

Woodson, who in his fourth season led the team to its first playoff berth in nine years, has signed a two-year extension, Sund announced on Friday.

'What I really felt was that each year the club had improved and got better,' said Sund, who was hired as general manager May 28.

'One of the goals was by year four to sneak into the playoffs, and they were the youngest of the 16 playoff teams, and they represented themselves pretty well in the playoffs.'

Woodson's record is a poor 106-222, but the Hawks' win total has improved in each of his four years. They ended the NBA's longest playoff drought this season, when they were 37-45, before stretching the Boston Celtics to seven games in a first-round series.

Former Hawks general manager Billy Knight's authority appeared to be weakened when he lobbied unsuccessfully with the owners to fire Woodson at the trade deadline. Knight resigned after the season.

Sund said he talked with players, and members of the management team and ownership group before making the recommendation to offer the extension.

'I also wanted to spend time with Woody to make sure he would be happy working with me and I would be happy working with him,' Sund said.

Woodson could not immediately be reached for comment, but he issued a statement thanking Sund and Hawks fans 'for the unbelievable support they've shown during my time here.'

'I've watched these players grow individually and collectively, and am excited to continue coaching them and building on the momentum from last season,' Woodson said. 'The playoff experience we had was invaluable as we look to reach the next level as a team.'

Sund said he met with players, but didn't consult with players about the decision to keep Woodson.

'I would never get the players involved in any type of decisions with coaches, draft picks or trades,' Sund said. 'With my experience, that's not the way to go.'

Woodson's contract was to expire at the end of June.

The Hawks do not have a pick in the June 26 NBA draft. Sund said Friday he has no plans to trade for a first-round pick, adding this is a perfect year for the Hawks to 'pay the debt' of the second of two conditional first-round picks sent to the Phoenix Suns in the 2005 trade for Joe Johnson.

'The thing that shocked me was there are nine guys 25 or younger on this team,' Sund said.

'Pay it off now and get it off the books. It's not a huge loss that we would not have another 18- or 19- or 20-year-old on the roster.'