ORLANDO, Fla. — Jeff Hornacek said Friday that the Knicks didn’t retain assistant coach Josh Longstaff because they have enough personnel and former NBA players on staff who can do his job.
Longstaff, brought in by former Knicks coach Derek Fisher, was responsible for player development and was the coach closest to Kristaps Porzingis.
There was speculation that the Knicks didn’t bring back Longstaff because of his close relationship with Porzingis, who blew off his exit meeting and drew the ire of former president Phil Jackson and others in the organization.But Hornacek said, “We have a lot of guys. His contract is up and we felt our coaches can do that work, too. That was it.
“When I was [coaching] in Utah and Jerry Sloan and Phil Johnson quit, and they asked me to stay on. Scott Layden and I, and Tyrone Corbin — we did everything, three guys. Now we’ve got 25 guys out here, so we’ve got plenty of bodies.”
Hornacek said Longstaff will not be replaced. His coaching staff consists of Kurt Rambis, Jerry Sichting, Howard Eisley, Corey Gaines and Dave Bliss. All but Bliss played in the NBA. Longstaff climbed the ranks in the NBA after starting as a video coordinator with Oklahoma City.
“We talk about players’ development and we have coaches that have played in this league a long time, they were very successful,” Hornacek said. “We’ve already discussed about different times making player development as part of the practice, so we’re going to let those guys’ expertise help out on that part of it.”
Even though Jackson has left the organization, there still needs to be a sitdown between the Knicks and Porzingis after he skipped his end-of-season interview, likely out of frustration over the dysfunction and drama surrounding the team. Jackson weighed trade offers for Porzingis before last week’s draft.
Hornacek said he has texted with Porzingis. Jackson said last week there was no verbal contact with Porzingis by anyone in the organization.
Porzingis is in Latvia, training in advance of the European championships. Hornacek said it’s possible he, another coach or a front-office member could go overseas and talk to Porzingis.
“We talked to his brother [Janis] about some things that we were going to work on,” Hornacek said. “We’ve got to see how the timing is. But we’ve got several players that are over there, so we’ll try to get somebody out there.”
Willy Hernangomez and Mindaugas Kuzminskas also are playing in the tournament.