Latest Update (Mar. 16)
9:10AM: Despite all of the issues the Knicks have dealt with this season, along with the team's brutal record, Phil Jackson will not fire Jeff Hornacek, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
According to Berman's source, Jackson "can't afford to fire" Hornacek and hire a new coach.
Hornacek has done well in communicating and maintaining a strong rapport with Jackson and associate head coach Kurt Rambis, something Derek Fisher was unable to do which eventually led to his dismissal.
Despite the rumblings of his possible departure, Hornacek is not worried about being the team's fall guy this offseason.
"No, we're all going through this,'' Hornacek said on Wednesday. "Every single guy, every single coach, every part of management is to blame. We're all in it together. There's no other talk of anything. We're trying to grow from this.''
Unlike Fisher, who showed a slight resistance to Jackson being involved with coaching aspects of the team, Hornacek welcomes the help from the 11-time NBA Champion coach.
"We talk about stuff all the time," said Hornacek. "When he comes out and demonstrates for guys, he's so used to being out on the court. It's fun for him to do. Guys getting another look at it from a guy who's run it for years and years.''
Hornacek isn't the main one to blame for the Knicks struggles. Still, that probably wouldn't stop Jackson from firing him if he believed the coach could serve as a believable scapegoat.
At this point, all fingers should and will be pointed at Jackson himself. Firing yet another coach would be much more a reflection of Jackson's inability to build a team and/or even pick the appropriate coach for this group. If he were so hellbent on having things run his way, Jackson should have hired Kurt Rambis or stepped up to the plate. Choosing to man the sidelines himself would be the only (somewhat) reasonable explanation for firing Hornacek. That obviously isn't going to happen and if Jackson fires someone else, no quality coach will want to entertain an offer from him moving forward.
Thus, he's stuck with Hornacek, which actually isn't so bad. Hornacek is the best coaching choice Jackson has made. He should let the man do his job with as little interference as possible.
Previous Reports and Reaction (Mar. 14)
11:30AM: After the tumultuous season the Knicks have endured, highlighted by Sunday's loss to the lowly Nets and Kristaps Porzingis' comments following the game about the confusion surrounding the Knicks, Frank Isola of the Daily News believes Phil Jackson might look to fire Jeff Hornacek this offseason.
After limping into the All-Star break at 23-34 and only a few games out of the playoffs, Jackson instructed Hornacek to re-commit to the triangle, which came as a surprise to the players. Then this past Thursday, Jackson ran a triangle clinic himself at practice for certain Knicks, including Courtney Lee and Derrick Rose (but not Carmelo Anthony and Porzingis).
Isola wonders if Jackson already looks at this season as a lost cause, and is trying to salvage anything he can, even at the expense of hurting Hornacek. The word around the NBA is that Jackson thinks he built a solid roster that has simply under-performed, which would be an indictment of the coach.
The Knicks face off against the Pacers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. A loss would clinch New York's fourth consecutive losing season, and it's third full season under Jackson.
The firing of Hornacek would also represent the fourth coach Jackson has replaced since taking over as president of the franchise.
Despite being the head coach, it's difficult to put the majority of the blame here on Jeff Hornacek's shoulders. There's only so much fault he can take for not being able to lead a group of players that Phil Jackson has put in place. Clearly, this combination (which represents yet another one of Jackson's roster overhauls) has certainly not come together. That's a reflection on the President's ability (or inability) to put together a cohesive unit.
In addition to this select group not working out, it's relatively unfair to put the pressure on running the triangle on Hornacek as well. If no one teaches or executes it better than Jackson, he should be coaching the players he believed (upon acquiring them all) can be successful in the system. If Jackson decides to fire yet another coach, the only reason should be so that he can put his money where his mouth is. In order to justify such a vision, Jackson may need to coach this team himself.
Otherwise, the alternative is continuing to give Hornacek a fair shot. Given his success in Phenix and high quality experience as an NBA player, he actually looks like a solid coaching choice. He did really well with a run and gun style and proved to be a great motivator of younger players. Even through this season's struggles, it's been easy to see he has a special ability to get the most out of up and coming prospects. The Knicks' young talent has already benefited.
But for Hornacek to truly be successful, Jackson needs to give him some space. Ironically enough, allowing such leeway would be in the President's best interest as well. Jackson's reputation as an executive (especially if he proceeds to fire Hornacek) would make it awfully difficult to pursue and convince another high caliber head coach to come to New York.