ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek won’t be required to run the Triangle Offense under Phil Jackson.
Hornacek’s hire was shocking to some because of his unfamiliarity with the Triangle Offense, which New York has run for the past two seasons. Interim head coach Kurt Rambis was considered the front-runner for the Knicks job because of his knowledge of the system, and team president Phil Jackson said last month he was committed to running the Triangle this upcoming season — the very system he earned 11 NBA championship rings in Chicago and Los Angeles.
But ESPN analyst and former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy shed some light on New York’s coaching choice in a Wednesday interview with SiriusXM Radio.
“The things I’ve heard is that he’s not going to be required to run the triangle,” Van Gundy said of Hornacek. “Which is smart from the standpoint that he’s never taught it before. So you don’t want to come in trying [something] that you’ve never played in or taught. I’m interested in that. But I think it’s an inspired choice.”
ESPN.com’s Ian Begley wrote, “It would be a massive shift in philosophy if Jackson strayed from the triangle, but the theory that the offense would change under the next head coach was not dismissed Wednesday by people familiar with the inner workings of the team.”
At the height of his coaching career, Hornacek’s Suns were perimeter assassins in his pace-and-space offense. His roster, though, featured Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic, en route to a 48-34 record barely missing the playoffs. Hornacek was runner-up to Gregg Poppovich for Coach of the Year that season.
New York is near barren in its back court, an issue that will compound if Arron Afflalo opts out of his contract and becomes a free agent this summer. The Knicks could have up to $30 million in cap space if both Afflalo and Derrick Williams test free agency.
Instead, Hornacek will work with a talented front court of Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Robin Lopez. Jackson and his new coach will likely work together to identify guards they deem can thrive in the new offensive system.
It will be interesting to watch how New York’s new coach develops Porzingis, who found himself operating out of the post more under Rambis.
Hornacek is a disciple of Hall of Fame NBA coach Jerry Sloan, whom he played for and coached under with the Utah Jazz. He had interviewed with both Washington and Sacramento, and was under consideration to replace Luke Walton as Golden State’s lead assistant.