With the Knicks all but set to make Jeff Hornacek their next head coach, a big question remains: will Phil Jackson force Hornacek to run the triangle, as he did Derek Fisher? Fisher tried to make some modifications to the offense, which was one of many reasons he was let go in February. Hornacek’s hire was a little surprising because he isn’t a triangle coach and has no previous history with Jackson, but ESPN.com’s Ian Begley says it might not matter:
Several media outlets have reported that Hornacek will have the freedom to install his own offense rather than run Jackson’s preferred triangle. If this is accurate — and several people familiar with the inner workings of the team believe it to be true — it would be a shift in philosophy for Jackson.
The interesting wrinkle here: Derek Fisher attempted to tweak the triangle offense by increasing the pace, running more high ball screens and drag screens. Jackson opposed that change and it was ultimately cited as one of the primary reasons he fired Fisher in early February, when the Knicks were 23-31.
So it’s a bit surprising that Hornacek would get leeway that Fisher, who won five titles playing for Jackson’s Los Angeles Lakers teams, was not afforded.
Nonetheless, with Hornacek at the helm it’s fair to expect the Knicks to play at a faster pace, spread the floor, shoot more 3-pointers and pursue more opportunities in transition — all traits of Hornacek’s Phoenix Suns teams. The guess here is that many Knicks players will welcome these changes. Many had grown weary of the triangle and the negative perception of the offense around the NBA, per league sources.
If Jackson is willing to bend on the triangle and let Hornacek install his own offense, that’s a good sign for the Knicks’ future. So far, the only coach Jackson has been able to find who’s willing to run the triangle without any reservations is Kurt Rambis, which speaks for itself. If Jackson wants Hornacek to be successful, he has to give him the freedom to coach the team as he sees fit, and as fits the personnel. Early indications are that he’s willing to do that, which is encouraging for Knicks fans.