Jeff Hornacek was "dismissed" as head coach of the Knicks early on Thursday morning, the team announced.
Hornacek was informed of the decision by Knicks President Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry after the team returned from their season finale in Cleveland. Along with Hornacek, assistant coach Kurt Rambis was also let go.
"Jeff is a true professional who has worked tirelessly for this organization the last two seasons," Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry said in a joint statement. "We sincerely appreciate his efforts and considerable contributions to the team and wish him well in his future endeavors."
Hornacek had preached patience earlier on Wednesday, saying he was confident the Knicks were on the verge of being competitive.
"Sometimes people are wanting things to happen right away, but sometimes there's patience," he told reporters. "That's what we're looking for."
The 54-year-old Hornacek was hired as head coach on June 2, 2016, and led the Knicks to a 31-51 record.
This season, with the team decimated by injuries -- most notably a season-ending ACL tear suffered by Kristaps Porzingis -- the Knicks went 28-54.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that possible candidates for the job include David Fizdale, David Blatt, Mark Jackson, and possibly Jerry Stackhouse -- currently the coach of the Raptors G league team.
Jake Brown | Twitter |
After two seasons and a miserable 60-104 record, the Jeff Hornacek era is finally over. What a nightmare the last two seasons have been for the New York Knicks. The only good times this team had came in the first 30 games this year and last year. After that, they could not stop losing, and it got painful to watch. The head coach gets the blame for that, and there was just no chance that Hornacek was going to be back to coach the team next season.
I also love the fact that they did this immediately after the season ended. They didn't even wait until the morning after. As soon as they got back to New York last night, he was a goner. It's a move every Knicks fan is happy with, and now they can focus on the search for the next head coach.
What went wrong? Everything. Hornacek wasn't handed a roster full of stars and maybe not even a roster that should make the playoffs, but he did a poor job with what he was given. First off, he could not have mismanaged playing time more than he did. He drove Willy Hernangomez out of town because he refused to play him. That led to him getting dealt to the Hornets at his lowest value, while he was under contract for a very affordable $1.5 million a year.
He drove Joakim Noah out of town by never playing him after his suspension ended. It came to the point where Noah didn't even travel with the team, and got in a war of words with Hornacek. Now the Knicks have to decide if they want to keep Noah and see if he works with a new head coach, or cut him and throw money down the toilet --.because they aren't getting anything for him and his contract in a trade. That's a story for another day. Also, Hornacek was wildly inconsistent with Frank Ntilikina's playing time to the point where the rookie point guard didn't see much growth over the course of the season.
The list goes on and on. The Knicks were atrocious in the third quarter this season, where they blew an absurd amount of leads. This team stunk coming out of timeouts. They turned it over at an alarming rate off timeouts and looked lackadaisical. In back-to-back seasons at the exact same point of the season around Christmas time, they collapsed into the new year, falling out of the playoff race and diving way below .500.
There were definitely road blocks along the way, including Kristaps Porzingis' injury and Tim Hardaway, Jr.'s injury, amongst other things. But in the end, the losses fall directly on the head coach. As much as it continues to be frustrating that the Knicks can't have a head coach last long, you have to move on. From Mike Woodson to Derek Fisher to a cup of coffee with Kurt Rambis to Hornacek, it's been ugly.
One of the candidates to replace Hornacek is the coach who has had the longest tenure with the Knicks outside of Red Holzman -- Jeff Van Gundy. JVG, Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, and Monty Williams seem to be the short list of guys who could come in and replace Hornacek. Most Knicks fans would be happy with any of those choices, but it seems like JVG and Jackson are the fan favorites. Both have their New York ties, with Jackson having a ton of success playing here, and JVG being the last coach to have the Knicks as the talk of the town in the late 90's/early 2000s.
The Knicks have got to get this decision right. I trust Scott Perry much more than Phil Jackson in making a decision. This team can't afford to strike out on yet another head coach, especially in the middle of a rebuild as they try and get this thing headed in the right direction. Let the search begin.