GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The triangle offense isn’t going anywhere, though it might take on a new shape.
That was a big takeaway from Jeff Hornacek’s introductory news conference at the Knicks’ training center on Friday. The new Knicks coach apparently is looking to stay true to the principles of team president Phil Jackson’s triangle offense while looking to mix in the up-tempo offense he used in his previous head-coaching stint in Phoenix.
“To me, it’s just about spacing the floor,” Hornacek said. “There’s something about the triangle. Maybe we’ll call it the circle offense. You can run any play you want out of the triangle. It’s going to be a part of our offense. It’s something that’s worked, won championships.”
So perhaps the circle offense is just a modified triangle with the rough edges sanded off. That might be helpful for the Knicks, who unlike Jackson’s 11 championship teams in Chicago and Los Angeles have struggled to adapt to the system under coach Derek Fisher and interim coach Kurt Rambis.
“We’re going to run the triangle, but I wouldn’t call it the triangle,” Hornacek said. “There’s a lot of aspects of the triangle, the spacing, the cuts off it in the post, that are not unique to the triangle. We can space it out farther and run some things I did in Phoenix. So there will be aspects of the triangle. It’s basic reads. You can call it triangle or call it what Golden State runs. There’s the idea we can blend it somehow.’’
The blending of the triangle is an intriguing idea, given that Hornacek ran a pretty successful offense in Phoenix. Despite not having a single All-Star on the roster, the Suns were one of the most explosive offenses in the NBA. Hornacek led Phoenix to a ranking of No. 8 in offensive efficiency in 2013-14, when the Suns won 48 games.
Hornacek said he did not know Jackson all that well before the two sat down for interviews last month. In fact, he said that before getting a call from his agent saying that Jackson wanted to talk to him about the job, he had “never really talked to Phil.”
The two, however, quickly hit it off. He said one of the first things Jackson asked him was how much he knew about the triangle offense. The main thing Hornacek knew about the offense, of course, is that it’s the one that was employed by the Bulls to beat his Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Finals.
“It was brought up. He asked what I knew about it,” Hornacek said. “To me, it’s not anything that is that far from what other teams do. It’s just basic reads. It just takes time for some teams when you put a system like that in.”
It always seems like the Knicks are getting used to something new. Hornacek is their fifth coach in the last six seasons. The Knicks haven’t been to the playoffs in three seasons, but Hornacek doesn’t think they are far away.
Said Hornacek: “Any time you have a superstar, that gives you a chance. We have that in Carmelo [Anthony]. It’s a matter of building around him. I don’t think we’re that far off. We have to get a couple of guys [in the free-agent market] to help us out. We have a chance.”