The New York Knicks have fired Jeff Hornacek after two seasons on the job.
The team informed Hornacek of the move after the Knicks arrived back home following their regular season finale in Cleveland, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. News of the firing comes the same day that Hornacek said he was seeking clarity about his future with the team. Hornacek had a year left on his contract.
The Knicks went 31-51 and 29-53 under Hornacek, though this season was marred by the loss of Kristaps Porzingis. Expectations could not have been very high with their star player suffering a season-ending knee injury, but that didn’t spare Hornacek.
Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Steve Perry will have a chance to hire their coach. Woj says they are expected to reach out to David Blatt, David Fizdale, Mark Jackson and Jerry Stackhouse. Jeff Van Gundy has also been mentioned as a potential candidate, as well as Doc Rivers.
- Jeff Hornacek
New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek may have the hottest seat in the NBA right now, but he has not lost the confidence of guard Courtney Lee.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, Lee offered a fiery defense of his coach.
“Yeah, man, 100 percent,” Lee said when asked if Hornacek had stepped up this season, per Marc Berman of the New York Post. “You got to realize, we were on a run early on, we hit adversity and you can’t blame anybody for that. Injuries happen. That’s the world we live in today. We have to blame somebody, right? You can’t control that.
“For what, injuries?” he added when told that a lot of fans blamed Hornacek for their subpar year. “For Tim [Hardaway Jr.] having a stress fracture? For KP [Kristaps Porzingis] going down? How you blame coach for that? That’s a question for you. Can you answer that on the record?”
The Knicks went 31-51 in Hornacek’s first year at the helm in 2016-17 and now will likely finish even worse this time around as they currently sit at 27-51.
The list of potential Hornacek replacements is already vast, but it sounds like Lee wants him to get another chance to run it back with a healthier roster.
Jeff Hornacek is finally admitting to perhaps New York’s worst-kept secret.
With his team eliminated from the playoffs, the New York Knicks head coach received questions about free agency on Friday and was asked if he thought that the triangle offense was a “hang-up” for potential targets last offseason.
“I think it probably was,” replied Hornacek, per Ian Begley of ESPN. “I think we truly believed that we could blend it [into Hornacek’s preferred offense]. And we found out that probably wasn’t great.
“Most of the teams, if you look around the league, play the same way. There’s not a lot of difference in how teams play,” he continued. “It’s getting certain guys, with their abilities, to put them in those positions [to succeed].”
Hornacek, who is in his second season coaching the Knicks, spent his first year in charge trying to blend his own offensive principles with the triangle at the behest of former team president Phil Jackson. The experiment failed badly though, and the Knicks went just 31-51 in 2016-17. This year, Hornacek has moved away from the triangle with Jackson no longer working for the organization, but the damage to his reputation may have already been done.
In any case, the Knicks have actually been even worse this season at 27-49, so prospective free agents this summer might still look the other way regardless.
Could a return to the Eastern Conference actually be in play for Doc Rivers?
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post on Tuesday, a former associate of the LA Clippers head coach believes it is “not far-fetched” that he would have interest in the New York Knicks job if Jeff Hornacek is fired.
“Doc enjoyed his time there,” said the former associate of Rivers, who played for the Knicks for three seasons from 1992 to 1994 before his coaching career. “He respects the city, he respects the organization.”
Berman further notes that Knicks owner James Dolan is said to have “a long fascination” with the one-time Coach of the Year. Rivers’ lead assistant Mike Woodson also served as the Knicks head coach from 2012 to 2014.
Rivers, who has coached the Clippers since 2013, is currently under contract for one more season. He has had to answer questions about his job security in recent months however and was recently demoted by the team as well (though Rivers’ efforts in leading a battered roster to the fringe of a playoff spot in the Western Conference have been widely lauded lately).
As for Hornacek, he holds a record of 55-89 (.382) through two seasons coaching the Knicks, which is by no means stellar. Rivers would likely represent an upgrade if Hornacek is ultimately let go. But it’s probably an open question as to if New York has a brighter long-term outlook than the Clippers with franchise cornerstone Kristaps Porzingis nursing a torn ACL.
The New York Knicks announced on Friday that Joakim Noah will be away from the team indefinitely, and at this point it would not be a surprise if it remained that way for the rest of the season.
Noah has not been with the Knicks since he had a dispute with head coach Jeff Hornacek on Jan. 25. According to a report from Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, the only way Noah would even consider playing for New York again is if Hornacek wasn’t the coach.
Here’s one possible way Joakim Noah comes back: te Knicks change coaches. Source says Noah and Hornacek “pretty much hate each other.”
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) February 2, 2018
Finding a trade partner before the Feb. 8 deadline will be virtually impossible, as Noah has been oft-injured and has $54 million remaining on his contract over the next three years. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Knicks are not willing to package any significant future draft assets or young players as a way to entice teams to take on Noah’s contract. A buyout is one possibility, but all indications have been that Noah has no interest in that.
Noah and Hornacek had to be separated during a recent practice in what sources told ESPN was a “pretty bad” disagreement. It’s obvious that the two simply are not going to coexist.
Jeff Hornacek liked what he saw from rookie guard Frank Ntilikina during the Knicks’ loss to the Cavaliers on Monday.
During the first quarter, Ntilikina collided with James on his way up the floor after an alley-oop dunk by James. Ntilikina didn’t appear to be intimidated by James in the least, giving him a shove before Enes Kanter came to the rookie’s defense.
After the game, Hornacek liked that Ntilikina didn’t back down in the situation. The Knicks coach said it was “good” Ntilikina stood up to the best player in the game.
Jeff Hornacek on Frank Ntilikina bumping LeBron James tonight: “That’s good. A young kid (standing) up to the best player in the game.”
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) November 14, 2017
Nitilikina may be just 19 years old, but he showed on Monday he’s not going to be pushed around despite this being his first season in the NBA. That trait should endear Ntilikina to the Madison Square Garden faithful as he works on showing them the Knicks made the right choice selecting him No. 8 overall in this year’s draft.
Ntilikina finished Monday’s game with seven points, three rebounds, two assists, and six steals in 24 minutes.
The stench of the Phil Jackson era continues to percolate through Madison Square Garden, even after his departure from the team this summer.
Appearing this week on “The Woj Pod,” ESPN’s Ian Begley revealed that New York Knicks players are still skeptical of head coach Jeff Hornacek for not standing up to Jackson and his demands that they run the triangle offense.
“You look at around the All-Star break,” said Begley, according to Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk. “They started running more triangle, and it was clearly Phil’s influence. So, players looked at that, and they saw Jeff as not having enough authority to kind of stand up and say, ‘Hey, Phil, I’m coaching the team. This is how I want to run the offense. This is what I want to do.’ I think if Jeff took that approach, he would have won this locker room over. But he didn’t, and I think that hurt him.
“So, that doesn’t go away – right? – just because Phil is not here,” Begley continued. “I think that impression, just from the few guys who shared it with me, I think is still there. I think Jeff has to show himself to be his own man this year, and I think every opportunity is there for him to do that. But he’s certainly under a microscope.”
The triangle was indeed a point of major contention among the Knicks last season, and it doesn’t appear that Jackson’s exit as team president in June smoothed things over any. As for Hornacek, he did have some notable spats with his players over the course of the year, so the 2017-18 campaign could end up becoming a referendum on him and his ability to lead the Knicks.