Late last night Howard Beck dropped a recently patented “Beck Bomb” and reported that Jeff Hornacek will be the next Head Coach of the New York Knicks (Adrian Wojnarowski must be so tight). Although nothing is official and the terms of the deal have not been released, the deal appears to be as good as done.
Allegedly, Hornacek, who was heavily pursued by the Golden State Warriors to be added to their notorious list of assistant coaches, had met with General Manager Phil Jackson several times over the course of the last few days. Although the move is surprising, Knicks fans should breathe a sigh of relief that this brain trust will not be running basketball operations for the organization like Tommy Callahan in Black Sheep.
That fact alone makes this move a major win for NYK basketball. But beyond that, I believe Hornacek to be a pretty inspiring hire…
For starters, Hornacek is an accomplished former NBA player who served under a well-regarded coach in Cotton Fitzsimmons (Phoenix Suns) and an NBA legend in Jerry Sloan (Utah Jazz). Prior to his noteworthy career, he starred at Iowa State, where he had his jersey retired. Hornacek was a great third scoring option for much of his career from the 2 guard position as a dead eye shooter.
But here’s what you need to know about Hornacek as a coach:
He lead the Suns to a 48-34 (a 23 win increase from the previous season) record in his first season at the helm during an absolutely stacked season in the Western Conference that lead to outrageous expectations for the team. He dealt with management issues, eclectic player personalities, and a siphoning of talent during his time in Phoenix. In his first season, he finished runner-up to Gregg Popovich for Coach of the Year. During his first 2 season in Phoenix, the Suns ranked 8th and 3rd respectively in pace of play. In 2013, the Suns went from 13.5 fast break points per game to a league best 18.7. In 2013-2014, the Suns racked up a 109.5 offensive rating, good for 8th in the league. From 2013-2015, the Suns ranked 4th and 10th in three point attempts as a team.
Other than their participation in an intense rivalry between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz, Hornacek and Phil Jackson have no connection to one another. And that’s a beautiful thing. Hornacek has no ties to the triangle offense, and employs a modern, fast paced offensive scheme. Many times the Suns utilized a 4 man out scheme which allowed them to bomb three pointers all over the floor.
But that doesn’t mean his style can’t mesh with P-Jax’s philosophy of constant movement and flow. Hornacek likes to use a spread pick and roll scheme with a lot of “random cuts” (Jeff Van Gundy voice) and weak side action. Although the Suns’s personnel lent itself easily to this style of play, it’s clear that Hornacek likes to run and move the ball and create flow. Again, this is a good thing.
For reference, here’s a great breakdown of Hornacek’s coaching style:
If the ultimate goal of an NBA offense is to foster creativity and open looks (it is) then sign me up for #LetsGetHorny! So hyped to use that hashtag for the foreseeable future.
Obviously Hornacek comes with shortcomings as well. Phoenix never finished higher than middle of the pack in terms of defensive rating. They never seemed to establish an identity on that end of the floor. Although his struggles to maintain flaring tempers and egos in the hostile Suns locker room is understandable, he nonetheless failed at doing so. Much of that has to do with the mass roster turnover there, as well as coaching some pretty psychotic dudes (i.e. Markeiff Morris).
Overall, I find the move to be both surprising and inspiring (Clyde Frazier voice). Hiring someone outside his shitty coaching tree shows that Phil is willing to be flexible for the first time, and a Hornacek appears to be a progressive and creative mind that is still young enough to improve and grow on areas he struggles in. I chalk this up as a win for #NYK.
In any case, at least we’ll have Abby Hornacek to bide our time with until Phil or Dolan inevitably fuck things up again, because Knicks fans can’t have nice things! If we’re lucky, maybe she’ll take over for the Sass Queen Rebecca Haarlow on the sidelines. One can dream…..