Knicks Fire Hornacek Because They Can’t Fire Themselves

The predictable became the reality when the Knicks gave their Jeff Hornacek experiment the heave-ho and ushered him out the door for (perhaps) another offensive minded, defensively challenged, ex-player coach.  The firing of Hornacek made perfect sense when you consider how the NBA functions these days. If you are going to be bad- the Knicks weren’t awful- then be so atrocious you win as few games as possible and have a shot at DeAndre Ayton or Marvin Bagley III.

Hornacek took the fall for his shortcomings as a coach. He wasn’t particularly good at dealing with players the way a coach has to be. Hard some of the time, understanding some of the time, bossy, it’s my way, I care about you. A coach has to embody many personailities on a given day. Hornacek just wasn’t ready.

Hornacek, and his coaching, and whatever leadership intangibles he brought to his job, turned into a problem. But it wasn’t the problem. Losing Kristaps Porzingis delivered Hornacek his fate.

Jeff Hornacek’s Knicks W-L Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Eastern Conference Standings
2017-18 29-53 107.1 (20th) 110.7 (23rd) 11th
2016-17 31-51 107.7 (18th) 111.5 (26th) 12th

In 72 seasons of NBA basketball, the Knicks have been to the playoffs 42 times but have only been to the playoffs 4 times in the last 17 years. Their playoff romance was 1987-2002, the Patrick Ewing years.  They appeared in the playoffs 14 years in a row, the NBA Finals twice, and the Eastern Conference Finals four times. There is a profound moral to the story. When you draft a top-5 player that pans out, you will prosper. Otherwise, good luck people.

Jeff Hornacek was never anyone’s idea of a great coach. He was fired from the hapless Suns because his great idea was to have a small guard team with Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. All three are somewhere else. But he failed with the Knicks because Kristaps wasn’t a cover post-injury. There was no hiding. The Knicks are still paying for the Phil Jackson mistake of Carmelo’s no trade clause, the Courtney Lee overpay and the Joakim Noah wtf? The Knicks talent is lottery team level basic. But a good coach can take the average and make them into something unexpected. The Clippers lost Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and were eliminated from the playoffs in game 80. Coaching does matter.

2017-18 Weaknesses

  • 29th: 3-Point Attempts
  • 28th: Free Throw Attempts
  • 27th: 3-Point Percentage
  • 23rd: Defensive Rating
  • 20th: 3-Point Defense, Offensive Rating

If you don’t have shotmakers or drivers, can’t get to the line, can’t guard perimeter shooters, your season is a wash. But Jeff Hornacek wasn’t responsible for the utter failure that has been the Knicks front office, spearheaded by owner James Dolan. All Hornacek was asked to do was pick up the pieces and try to make it work. But you can’t pick up broken glass without getting cut.

Are the Knicks a mess? Yes.

Knicks Apathy Opponent Points Opponent FG% Opponent 3-Point % Turnovers
2017-18 108.0 (20th) 45.7% (11th) 36.8% (20th) 14.7 (21st)

The Knicks need a point guard and in a hurry, someone who can control tempo, see the floor, hit a three every now and then, finish through traffic and get to the line, and exhibit leaderhsip.

Knicks Free Agents

  • Jarrett Jack, Michael Bealey

Knicks Cap Room 2018-19

  • $100 million payroll. Cap space zero.

Mark Jackson is one of the contenders, an emotional choice to be sure. Former Knick. New Yorker. He knows the culture. Jackson coached a team that lost a seven game first round series. He was fired, not because of the loss but because of personality conflicts with the front office.  Without him, the Warriors became a juggernaut.  But Jackson developed Steph, Klay and Draymond. He was the first one to say the Splash Brothers would dominate the league offensively. He is still very close with Steph which is important only because it means he understands coaching is about developing relationships with players. David Fitzdale coached LeBron James in Miami. When he was fired from Memphis, a stupid, reactionary, make Marc Gasol happy move, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and nearly every Miami Heat who won a title in 2012, 2013 tweeted out support. Fitzdale creates relationships with players. His first year in Memphis, the Grizz went to the playoffs. He was a good teacher.

Jeff Hornacek taught the Knicks not a damn thing. HIs bio never suggested he would, that he was going to be in town for the long haul. And so the rollercoaster knocks another Knicks coach to the curb, blooding his face. Since Jeff Van Gundy, 10 coaches for the Knicks.

Number 11 waiting in the wings, somewhere in America.