GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Jeff Hornacek said he didn’t feel undermined by team president Phil Jackson conducting a triangle tutorial last week, and doesn’t seem concerned about someone being the fall guy if and when the season ends with the Knicks missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
“No, we’re all going through this,” Hornacek said after practice Wednesday. “Every single guy, every single coach, every part of management — everybody’s to blame. We’re all in it together. I don’t think there’s been any other talk of anything [like that].”
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There’s been speculation about Hornacek’s job security with the Knicks underachieving this season. It’s been a tough year for the Knicks and their first-year coach, but Hornacek continues to be a good employee who follows Jackson’s wishes.
As Jackson and his long-time friend and triangle aficionado Kurt Rambis, the Knicks associate head coach, chatted on the far court, Hornacek spoke to reporters about the virtues of the system, and why players should enjoy playing in it.
Hornacek didn’t play the triangle during his long NBA career or run it in two-plus seasons coaching Phoenix. The perception is Jackson is forcing Hornacek to run it, and that he crossed the line by holding a session with the guards last week. Hornacek disagreed.
“We talk about stuff all the time,” Hornacek said. “So when he comes out and demonstrates for the guys it’s, he’s so used to being out on the court it’s probably fun for him to do. And the guys get another look at it from a guy who has run it for years and years, so it’s good.”
Derrick Rose said that Jackson would conduct more of these before the season ends, which is coming soon.
The Knicks, who likely will be without Kristaps Porzingis (left thigh bruise) when they host the Nets Thursday, have 14 games remaining. The Knicks are in 12th place, six games out of the last playoff spot.
They haven’t been mathematically eliminated. But Hornacek conceded Tuesday night that the playoffs “may be out of reach” and they’re starting to build for next year.
“We want to try to get something going at the end of the year that maybe leads into next year,” Hornacek said. “Maybe you find something about a player that you like. If we’re going to ask guys to do different things here at the end, and they end up they can’t do it, then you take a look at that. It’s a little bit experimenting but still trying to work on the things that we’ve been doing.”
It’s all about the triangle and how players fit in it. Many players don’t like it, and Hornacek said it takes a long time to learn. But he doesn’t think it will hurt the Knicks’ ability to sign free agents.
“There might be players that think that way,” Hornacek said. “But there are also probably players out there that say, ‘Oh man, I’d like to run something like that.’
“It’s still an offense where guys if they’re knowledgeable about the game should like. It’s a strategy almost every time down the court if you’re a player. You’re watching things develop. When you look at it that way, it’s actually fun to run.”
Rose, who called the offense “random basketball” earlier this season, said it has been difficult to learn the triangle. Perhaps it’s because the Knicks weren’t fully immersed in it like they are now or it’s not Hornacek’s system. But Rose wouldn’t blame it on missing time in training camp for his civil sexual assault trial.
“I don’t want to say it’s hard but we never got a feel this year for it,” Rose said. “I think I pick up things quick especially when it has to do with basketball and I don’t think me being gone away for trial was the problem.
“Just pass the ball to the top and run to the corner, how hard could that [be], you know what I mean? That’s not hard at all. I don’t think me being at trial was the problem.”
Fisher to work Knicks-Clippers game. Derek Fisher will be a TNT analyst for Monday’s Knicks’ game against the Clippers in Los Angeles. The former Knicks coach has been a studio analyst for Lakers games this season and recently began working with TNT. But Fisher, who Jackson fired last February, told The Associated Press he wants to coach again: “There’s no question I’ll be back at it at some point.”
As part of TNT’s ‘Players Only’ coverage, Fisher, Brent Barry, Shaquille O’Neal and Lisa Leslie will be working Monday’s game.