2016 FA Roundtable: Head Coach Jeff Hornacek

PLUGH: This was an “out of the blue” hiring for Phil, at least according to all the narratives about him being on vacation. I don’t really want to rehash that ugly period in Knicks media/fandom, but suffice it to say the moves he’s made have confused, surprised, and sometimes pleased the people in orbit of the team. The tone has shifted in the discourse around the Knicks, and much of that shift occurred when Jeff Hornacek came aboard and word came out he wouldn’t have to be a Triangle-orthodox coach. We’ll see how that plays out, but he’s been likable in his short time in front of the media. Training camp and the pre-season are where we’ll really get a sense of his stamp on the team, but he’s a breath of fresh air after Fisher’s robotic tenure and Rambis’ Tweedledumbery. I said many times before the offseason that Phil’s next coaching hire would be the single biggest indicator of his success/failure in New York (the second being his ability to get a superstar in free agency). Hornacek is a solid, smart hire, but it remains to be seen how he handles adversity. He’s likeable, but likeable doesn’t necessarily make for effectiveness in the boss’ seat.

CRONIN: He’s definitely more likeable than the previous Knick coaches, but he also said one of the dumbest things we’ve heard from a Knick coach since Isiah was in town, which was a repeat of the whole “you can’t rebuild in New York” claptrap.. I’ll forgive him for that, though, as I’m sure he’s just spouting off the company line. I was so, so happy that Phil Jackson didn’t hire Kurt Rambis, so Hornacek has practically a blank check from me, to be frank.

MA: Thanks for that Brian, I had almost blissfully forgotten about Kurt Rambis. Jeff Hornacek will be a mystery until opening tipoff. His tenure in Phoenix soured, but it’s not clear how much blame goes to him vs. management. His teams played attractive basketball. The Knicks have the personnel (when healthy) to play an up-tempo style, but how much will Phil impose Triangle principles?

FISHER-COHEN: The hallmarks of Hornacek’s offense in his 48 win season were pick/pop/roll with two good shooting smaller bigs in Morris and Frye alongside two excellent attacking guards in Bledsoe and Dragic. Hornacek’s Suns didn’t just have a surprisingly high win total in common with the 12/13 Knicks. They were the uptempo version of that Knicks team with a focus on strong passing from the perimeter via two point guard lineups and strong shooting from smaller bigs.

It’s hard to see any similarity between our core and that 13/14 Suns team. Our lineup will be big and slow with Melo again at the three where he’s best in the post, and outside of KP, lacking in effective pick/roll/pop type players both up front and at the guard positions. The Triangle Offense is not going away, it seems, if Jackson can help it, and either Hornacek will do what Fisher couldn’t and figure out a way to make it work or he’ll have to convince Jackson to let go of the geometric dream. With Jackson now a lame duck, Hornacek might win such a power struggle, which is something I’d be happy to see.

UDWARY: As everyone else said, Hornacek is not Rambis, so I’m definitely cool with it. A coach needs good players who can stay on the court to win, and I’m not sure the talent dictates this team to any more than 45 wins, healthy. This team is HIGHLY unlikely to stay healthy. Hornacek seems to be a fine coach, but he is not in a very good position with this roster.

KURYLO: My theory on NBA coaches is that there are few great coaches that can make a group of players outperform their opponent, and you can count the living ones on one hand, and have a few fingers left over. Then there are bad coaches who will make a team suck no matter who is on the roster, and we managed to get two of them instructing our boys last year.

Really the minimum a front office needs to do with head coaches is not hire from the latter group. I think the third time will be the charm for Phil.

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