SALT LAKE CITY — Jeff Hornacek made it clear that the Knicks will be running the triangle offense exclusively from the beginning of training camp next season, and they want players who fit the system and buy into it.
Hornacek also said he’s unsure if a core of Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis can be a playoff team unless they fully embrace the system.
“If we go into it like we did this year, no,” Hornacek said before the Knicks faced the Jazz Wednesday night. “If we turned around and had a different way . . . maybe we start and go right at however we’re going to run it next year, full triangle or whatever we’re going to do, it’s possible. You never know how those things will fit. Maybe a second year is helpful for us.”
Porzingis will be back and the Knicks plan to build around him. But Anthony and Rose are questionable to return.
The Knicks tried to trade Anthony before last month’s deadline, and are expected to try again this offseason. Anthony hinted on Monday that he might be willing to waive his no-trade clause to play on a winning team.
Rose will be a free agent and hasn’t been a good fit for the triangle. He’s complained about standing in the corner too much in the triangle, and called it “random basketball.” But he went to the Phil Jackson-led triangle session two weeks ago.
Hornacek said stubbornness from the players and his own reservations about the system hurt the Knicks this season.
At the beginning of the season, they ran “triangle aspects” out of dead-ball and other situations. Then they went away from it after players voiced their displeasure in a meeting with Jackson and Hornacek.
But after the All-Star break, the coaching staff went all in on the triangle, leading Porzingis to say there was “a lot of confusion.”
“Everybody coming into next year, we got to buy into the one way that we do it,” Hornacek said. “We probably tried to piece too many things together this year and we could never get it together quick enough. So we’ll look at everything next year.”
Hornacek took some of the responsibility for not stressing the system Jackson wants him to run right from the start.
“We were trying to find a balance,” Hornacek said. “We were trying to open the game up so the current players could run some of that stuff and still have the triangle set where we can get into some stuff.
“As it turns out, looking back, it probably wasn’t the greatest thing to do because you’re not focused on one or the other. You’re not getting enough of the same repetition of the same play and they can make reads off it. It’s something we have to make a decision on and just go with it.”
Hornacek acknowledged he will shorten starters’ minutes for the remaining 12 games to give some reserves and depth players more of a chance.
The Knicks are evaluating which players they want back, based on how hard they play and how they play in the triangle. Hornacek does have a sense of whom he wants back, though.
“There’s a lot of guys that do good things,” he said. “We just got to make sure that however the team is next year that we continue to get guys that play as hard as they can every play. The defensive intensity needs to be picked up next year. Scoring the basketball, we have guys that can do that. But do we have the right fit of guys running the system?”