Has Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek earned the respect of his players? Some evidence suggests no.
Has Hornacek earned the respect Knicks fans? New York’s 27-41 record says no.
Has Hornacek earned the respect of Knicks president Phil Jackson? Hornacek is saying everything he can to make the answer yes.
Newsflash: Appeasing your boss matters.
Despite the Knicks’ brutal record and growing input of Phil Jackson, who reversed the head coach’s offense, Jeff Hornacek’s job is safe, according to an NBA source.
When Jackson fired Derek Fisher in February 2016, during the coach’s second season, it was not because of a poor win-loss record. Sources insist Fisher was dismissed because of his lack of communication with Jackson, failing to respond to Jackson’s emails promptly and a passive-aggressive resistance to Jackson being involved with coaching aspects.
Hornacek, according to an NBA source, gets high grades on both counts — maintaining a strong rapport with Jackson and associate head coach Kurt Rambis, Jackson’s longtime compatriot.
“Phil can’t afford to fire [Hornacek] and bring in a new coach,’’ said another NBA source, who has spoken to Jackson.
James Dolan has pledged to keep Jackson, but that doesn’t mean the Knicks owner will give Jackson carte blanche. Firing another coach wouldn’t reflect well on the franchise (and it’d cost money).
But the problem isn’t firing coaches. Its hiring coaches who should be fired so quickly.
Hornacek might be a solid coach. But how good can he be if Jackson demands Hornacek run the triangle, a scheme Hornacek never coached before? How good can Hornacek be if he’s caught in the middle of the discord between Jackson and Carmelo Anthony?
Leaving Hornacek in place won’t magically fix those issues. It might just delay the Knicks finding a coach who can work successfully with Jackson.
But an even better solution than firing Hornacek: Finding a president who doesn’t have such a shallow pool of coaches who can work well with him.