The Knicks fired Jeff Hornacek as soon as they returned to New York following their season-ending win in Cleveland.
Then, they really unloaded on the coach.
Knicks owner James Dolan, via Larry Brooks of the New York Post:
“I think Hornacek had the same kind of issue that Phil did in that he didn’t grasp how different the players are now in the way they think and deal with management and the coaches,” Dolan said. “I think he was way behind on that.
“But I think Jeff is a good coach and he’ll do well when he’s hired by another team.”
“The old-style coaching doesn’t work,” Dolan said. “A coach who tries to do everything himself isn’t going to be successful.
Knicks president Steve Mills, via Marc Berman of the New York Post:
“I think just as we observed the team, there were a lot of things that we just thought would be better at, from attention to detail to player accountability, and Jeff did a good job in some areas. In some areas he could have done a bit of a better job.
Knicks general manager Scott Perry, via Berman:
“The evaluation of Jeff for 82 games, we evaluated everything — practices to games to ability to connect with guys. I think we need to be better in that area and with adjustments. It’s something we could be better at with the expectations we have for our next coach.”
“We could have been a little bit better in situational basketball,” Perry said. “We understand the roster as much as anybody. In terms of consistency, we fell a little bit short in that area.”
This is atypical candor about a fired coach. Most teams just thank him and move on.
But I appreciate it. Don’t we all want to know more of what NBA teams are thinking internally? This is revelatory.
That said, I don’t blindly trust the Dolan/Mills/Perry triumvirate. The Knicks have misevaluated too many people for too long. This more about knowing how they viewed things than knowing this is how things are.
According to a source, Dolan last season sent an email to Hornacek saying he was disappointed in him for not buying fully into the triangle offense. This took place sometime around the All Star break. So we know that as recently as last season Dolan, who loves to tell you he’s not involved, was actually pushing Phil Jackson’s offense down Hornacek’s throat in a not-so-subtle way.
Dolan had Phil’s back. And then on Wednesday, Dolan trashed Jackson for being out of touch. Man, life comes at you fast.
To be fair, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough also cited Hornacek’s lack of connection with his players when firing him. This will be something Hornacek must answer for if he pursues future head-coaching jobs. Hornacek feuded with Marcus Morris in Phoenix and Joakim Noah, Kyle O'Quinn and reportedly Kristaps Porzingis in New York.
Not that the Knicks set up Hornacek to succeed. They didn’t.
Now, they must find a coach who will perform better in all the areas they just criticized Hornacek for. That’ll be more difficult than criticizing him on the way out the door.