Jeff Hornacek RumorsAll NBA Players
New York has been in the bottom third of the NBA on defense all season long, which is the chief reason the club will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Jeff Hornacek is well aware of this. The head coach hinted on Monday that it’s an issue that will be dealt with in the offseason. “I think if you look at our defense this year, we can use some more defensive players,” Hornacek said. “[Management] will look at that. [General manager] Steve [Mills] and [president] Phil [Jackson] and those guys will look at whatever can help us out. We know we need some help there.”
Now it appears a near certainty. Saturday against the Spurs, Hernangomez had a career-high 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds in the 106-98 loss. “He’s getting better and better every game,’’ Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. “The experience against this team with LaMarcus [Aldridge], [Dewayne] Dedmon, Pau [Gasol], those are long, long guys. You see how smart a player he is. He didn’t try to jump over the guys and challenge them — he shot his little floaters over them.’’
Hornacek isn’t ready to hand out the center job for next season in March. Hernangomez and Porzingis could be interchangeable at the 4 and 5. The burly Hernangomez is a grittier rebounder than Porzingis and is averaging 15.4 per 36 minutes — a popular metric. “It’s probably too early,’’ Hornacek said Saturday before facing San Antonio to finish the four-game Western swing. “We still look at KP at the five sometimes, and Willy at the 4. And the way the league is going, we’re going to find one of those two guys if we play these teams that have a 6-7 4-man. “One of those two guys is going to have to guard him.’’
“Obviously if we go into it like we did this year — no,” Hornacek told reporters in Utah when asked if the Rose-Anthony-Porzingis trio can be a playoff team. “If we turn around and have a different way we start, go right at however we’re going to run it next year, if it’s full triangle, it’s possible. You never know how these things will fit. Maybe a second year is helpful for us.”
Hornacek also said he made a mistake in the beginning of the season by trying to blend the triangle with a more up-tempo style of basketball and reiterated that personnel decisions this summer will be based on the triangle.