New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek is on the hot seat. After two losing seasons, the orange and blue may be looking for a new coach this summer.
It’s been a long season for the Knicks fans, the players, and most certainly, their head coach, Jeff Hornacek. Hornacek, staring at a second straight losing season, has every reason to be looking over his shoulder as the season comes to an end.
Marc Stein of the New York Times recently reported,
” Jeff Hornacek has one year left on his contract, but good luck finding league observers who believe he will survive to see it out”…”It’s difficult to fault Hornacek for much of the chaos that has engulfed the Knicks during his two seasons in charge. But there’s no avoiding the fact he was a Phil Jackson selection, which could well doom him now that the organization seems intent on cutting every non-Porzingian tie to the Phil era as possible.”
Stein reports that the feeling around the league is that Hornacek will likely not finish his three-year contract, thus eliminating another tie to the Phil Jackson era.
This comes on the heels of Hornacek telling the New York media that he wants a sit-down meeting with management after the season.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes,
“At the end of the season I’m sure we’ll sit down with (president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry) and figure out what we’re doing,” said Hornacek, whose two-season coaching record with the Knicks fell to 55-96 following Thursday’s loss to the Sixers. “As a coach you’d like to know if you’re going to be here next year. But our job right now is take the guys that we have on this team and try to get them better.”
However, back in January, he seemed more confident about his standing with the powers that be.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News quoted Hornacek saying,
“We were talking about rebuilding and we got off to a good start because we had a lot of home games,” Hornacek said. “Scott and Steve, everybody’s still on the same page of trying to get our young guys opportunities. We’re still trying to win games. We still want to establish an identity where defensively we’re going to get after it all the time and we’re building toward that. It’s great to have their support.”
Despite the change in tune, Hornacek seems to have some support from his coaching brethren. Ian Begley of ESPN recently spoke with Steve Clifford, head coach of the Charlotte Hornets,
Steve Clifford on Jeff Hornacek: “He’s a very good coach. He’s done a good job. You can’t lose (Kristaps) Porzingis and then, to me, start judging the coach.” I understand Clifford’s point re: injuries & think NYK will take that into account when evaluating Hornacek at year’s end pic.twitter.com/Y75k8QmXQC
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) March 20, 2018
Truth be told, it’s not an easy decision. Hornacek for all his warts had to deal with injuries to both Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. Additionally, this is really his first year implementing his own offense void of the hulking shadow of the triangle offense and Hall-of-Famer Jackson.
Yet in the same breath, its hard to say that Hornacek has truly developed their young core. Certainly, Porzingis mad some great strides; being named an All-Star for the first time in his career, but with Willy Hernangomez being traded away, and Hardaway Jr. struggling to find consistency, who else really made a jump in progress?
Furthermore, the team’s consistent poor defense and inability to defend the three-point shot have become unacceptable patterns that are now staples of a Hornacek coached team.
The Knicks will most likely finish this season closer the bottom of the league in defensive rating. Currently, as per NBAstats.com, they sit at 21st in the league, (107.9). This is only slightly better than their posting of a (108.7) during the 2016-2017 season.
Stein also wrote that Mark Jackson and David Blatt are frontrunners to replace Hornacek; Jackson having ties to New York during his playing career, and Blatt, who has a close relationship as a former teammate at Princeton with current President of Basketball Operations Steve Mills.
Maybe Hornacek deserves another shot, but his leash will be short. If the young players do not improve, and the Knicks defense continues to mirror that of a subway turn-style, the Knicks be looking for a new head coach.