Rumor: If Jeff Hornacek is out in New York, could Doc Rivers be in?

Getty Images
7 Comments

There are far too many “ifs” here to call this anything near concrete, but it is interesting.

With a new management team in New York, Jeff Hornacek’s return as the Knicks’ head coach is anything but certain. Freed from Phil Jackson’s triangle and finally able to focus the offense around Kristaps Porzinis (before his injury), Hornacek’s team showed flashes. They also have been unimpressive on either end of the floor this season. There is a lot of speculation around the league that the Knicks are going to move on and find a new coach.

If the Knicks do move on, who is next in the hot seat in New York?

How about Doc Rivers? He has done maybe his best job in Los Angeles this season, taking a team hit hard by injuries and now without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin (both traded) and has them in playoff contention. The man can coach. Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote about it.

But according to a former Rivers associate, it’s not far-fetched for the one-time Knicks guard to have interest in the team’s coaching job if Jeff Hornacek, who has one year left on his contract, is let go after the season.

“Doc enjoyed his time there,’’ the former associate said. “He respects the city, he respects the organization.’’

This is fun New York tabloid speculation. Here’s why this is not likely to happen.

Rivers is under contract for one more year in Los Angeles and is still making coach/GM combo money at about $10 million a year. Rivers may not get the extension he wants from the Clippers this summer, but for the Knicks to pry him out of Los Angeles would require compensation going back to LA (likely a first-round draft pick). I’m not sure the Knicks give that up.

Also, how badly does Rivers want to come to a team that will be without Porzingis for roughly half of next season (due to a torn ACL)? Next season is almost a write-off, does any high-profile coach want to step into that (the expectations will outpace the reality next season). Also, how much front office power would Rivers demand to come East (and would the Knicks unwisely give it to him)?

Never say never in the NBA, but this is hard to see happening. But the future of both Rivers in L.A. and Hornacek in New York are going to be interesting to watch once the season ends.