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Knicks’ Jeff Hornacek given freedom to use triangle offense as he wants

New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek during

New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek during practice at the training facility on September 27, 2016. Photo Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

WEST POINT, N.Y. — Jeff Hornacek has never coached the triangle offense, but he said Knicks president Phil Jackson has given him the freedom to run it how he sees fit.

“We talked a lot about it over the summer,” Hornacek said Wednesday. “Phil’s given us the ability to run it any way we want, how we set it up. We talked about what we feel is a good working way to run it with different options. We’ll get to all those as the year progresses, but it should be pretty easy.”

Hornacek has said the triangle is just a different way of spacing the floor, and he plans to blend some of his principles in with Jackson’s favored system that hasn’t worked well the past two seasons with the Knicks.

When Hornacek coached Phoenix, he ran a fast-paced offense that relied heavily on three-pointers, pick-and-rolls and drive-and-kicks. But he often played small with multiple point guards on the floor at the same time.

Hornacek could play two point guards with Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings in the backcourt, but he said he didn’t expect to do that much. He has said he would try to exploit the Knicks’ versatility, playing Kristaps Porzingis at center at times to try to create mismatches.

But overall Hornacek believes the players will enjoy playing in a system where the ball moves and they can have some freedom.

“It’s still reads,” Hornacek said. “It’s still, ‘You pass it here.’ And talking to our guys about it, they like that. When you’re a talented guy and you understand the game of basketball you like to have those options. You don’t want to be a robot and just do things.

“I think maybe the previous teams here were trying to learn it, trying to do it right. Phil always stresses to me that you got to let these guys be creative. They’re out there on the court. I think the same way.

“When I played, coaches were saying the same thing. It’s putting a little bit on them, little bit more to not go crazy and not make bad shots. But we’re giving them the ability to do different things out of it, as long as they stay in that spacing.”

Former Knicks coach Derek Fisher tried to get away from the triangle last season, but he was fired in February. One of the reasons Jackson cited was a lack of communication between he and Fisher.

Carmelo Anthony said Jackson hasn’t gotten involved in practice yet, and that he’s been letting Hornacek run things. Anthony said Hornacek has the players’ attention.

“I just want Jeff to be comfortable and confident in what he wants to run, what he wants to accomplish, what he wants us to do out there on the court, as well as communicating with Phil,” Anthony said. “That’s what Phil wanted, wanted him to communicate and talk to him and keep him involved in what’s going on.

“Phil is here in every practice. He hasn’t been involved as far as talking or coming in, he’s just been letting Jeff do his thing. As long as Jeff is comfortable with what he wants to do and what he wants to run, we’re going to buy into that.”

Hornacek hasn’t put much of the offense in during the first two practices of training camp, but he has been stressing getting up and down the court and scoring in transition.

“It’s just easier buckets,” Hornacek said. “If you have to grind it out all the time that’s great if you do that, and we want to be that team that come the end of games, fourth quarters, can really execute plays. But the majority of the game if we can get five, six easy buckets a game just by pushing the ball, that’s a big advantage. So that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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