It appears as though the Knicks coaching search has finally come to an end. However, the way it is ending is a big surprise to just about everyone. On Wednesday night, Bleacher Report reported that the Knicks would be hiring former Phoenix Suns head coach, Jeff Hornacek, as their next head coach. This comes as quite a shock considering everything that Knicks president Phil Jackson has talked about since coming to New York. Phil has been consistent with his desire to run his famed triangle offense, an offense that Hornacek has absolutely zero experience with. Phil Jackson has also preached the need to have a relationship with whomever becomes the Knicks head coach; Hornacek never played for or coached under Phil Jackson in his entire career. So why the hire? Is Phil still calling the shots? Did he and Hornacek just click when they met last week in Los Angeles? We shall all await the explanation that is soon to come from the Knicks brass but for the time being, Knicks fans and NBA analysts everywhere are very confused.
Hornacek coached the Phoenix Suns for about two and a half seasons before being fired this past season. He had a combined record of 101-112 in those two plus seasons and his teams never made the playoffs. Before Phoenix, Hornacek was an assistant in Utah for three seasons under Jerry Sloan and Tyrone Corbin respectively. Jeff Hornacek was also a very successful NBA player in his day which most players respect and like to see in their head coach. So at least Hornacek has that going for him. It will be interesting to see how the dynamic of this team will change under Hornacek. It would probably be in the teams best interest to abandon the triangle considering their new head coach doesn’t have any prior experience with it.
If that is the case and the Knicks do pump the brakes on the triangle experiment, it would be a clear indication that Jackson isn’t really calling the shots anymore and that he may have one foot out the door already. Jackson has an opt-out clause in his contract that he can exercise after next season. If this is true and Jackson does have one foot out the door already, it does not bold well for the Knicks this offseason as they try to attract marquee free agents to come play at the Garden. Knowing that the leader of the organization could be on his way out would definitely hinder any potential free agents decision to come to New York. However, if the opposite is true and the Knicks still intend to run the triangle offense and follow Phil’s lead as he tries to rebuild this team, they definitely did not pick the best candidate for the head coaching job. If Phil is still dedicated to running the triangle offense and building the organization with this system in place, he should have hired a coach that can do so. As much as fans didn’t want to see Kurt Rambis be hired as the full time head coach, he is more knowledgeable of the system that Phil Jackson keeps preaching about. If they were to go outside of the organization for a new head coach, which they ultimately did, David Blatt would have been a more logical choice. Blatt has experience with the triangle offense given the fact that he used nuances of the triangle when running his Princeton offense in Europe.
Ultimately, this is all speculation at this point. There has been no confirmation from the Knicks that Hornacek has even been hired yet. It is all merely reports. However, when you get this far into a story without the organization coming out to deny the reports, it usually means that the reports are true. Whether or not the Knicks and Phil Jackson stay committed to the triangle offense remains to be seen. Whether or not Phil Jackson is still running this team also remains to be seen. The hiring of Jeff Hornacek has perplexed even those with the most knowledge of the situation. All we can do now is wait to see what the always interesting Knicks president has to say about all of this. You can say a lot of things about the New York Knicks organization, but one thing you can not say is that they’re boring. They sure know how to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, things are usually interesting for all the wrong reasons.
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