The New York Knicks officially announced Jeff Hornacek as their new head coach last week to conclude a search that went on for nearly two months.
Stellar candidates like Tom Thibodeau, Scott Brooks and Luke Walton all found new homes in that period of time and Knicks president Phil Jackson was openly questioned about the selection process as seemingly proven names kept passing the Big Apple franchise by.
It was assumed that Big Phil was on the look out for a coach that would implement his tried and trusted triangle offence and reports suggested he wanted a coach that could translate his specific ideas to the floor.
Such a specific and controlling search would no doubt have it's obstacles, but now former Phoenix Suns man Hornacek is in the hot seat and talking at the team's training facility on Friday, he intimated he is still surprised that he is.
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“I really didn't think it was,” Hornacek said of how realistic a possibility it was of getting the job. “My agents called and said that Phil was going to call you. And I said, 'Really?'”
The 53-year-old ran a fast-paced attack during his time in Phoenix, but he isn't going to get caught up in the label of the triangle offence, despite Jackson's apparent obsession with it.
“There must be something about the phrase 'triangle offence',” Hornacek said. “Maybe we'll call it the circle offence or something. For me, it's just about a way to space the floor.”
One thing Hornacek knows he must improve is the Knicks' leaky defence. New York finished 18th in defensive efficiency last term and their points per game differential was -2.7, the 22nd worst out of the 30 franchises in the league.
“I played for Cotton Fitzsimmons, who was very offensive-minded, and Jerry Sloan, who is very defensive-minded,” Hornacek said. “So for me, I've always played for coaches who wanted us to play tough, hard-nosed defence, and to let that be our guide ... to me, if you want to win and win big, you've got to buckle down defensively. You can't just rely on the big guys—it starts with pressure on the ball from your guards.”
Hornacek also touched the point guard position which has long been regarded a problem area for the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony has been vocal about his desire to see Rajon Rondo and other star free agents make their way to Madison Square Garden this summer, and Hornacek's tepid appraisal of his current options suggests that might be an area he is looking to strengthen.
“For the point guard situation, we have Jose [Calderon], we have Jerian [Grant],” Hornacek said factually. “They're cut out from opposite ends of the spectrum. So I could work with either one of them, and then for these guys, via free agency or whatever, can bring in somebody else in-between, to help the younger point guard or lend assistance to the older point guard, that would be making our team better.”