While Hornacek continues to trot out young players in t…

While Hornacek continues to trot out young players in the fourth quarter, he also gave a hint he would love to know soon about whether he’s coming back next season. Hornacek has one year left on his contract, and team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry may look to bring in their own guy.

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“At the end of the season, I’m sure we’ll sit down with these guys [management] and figure out what we’re doing,” Hornacek said. “Obviously as a coach you’d like to know that. But our job right now is take the guys that we have on this team, try to get them better, make them work and try to do the best we can.”
There has been swirling speculation throughout the season about a potential coaching change, and that has only increased as the Knicks have spiraled since December. They had lost 12 of their previous 13 games heading into Tuesday night's matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers. When asked at the Knicks' shootaround on Tuesday if he expected to be back next season, Hornacek said he did. "I still have next year so unless they tell me something different," said Hornacek, who has one year left on his contract.
Center Enes Kanter recently spoke highly about Hornacek and how he has led the team through its struggles. "He’s good man," Kanter said. "Obviously I’ve known him since my first season in the NBA. He helped me a lot grow as a person, as a player on and off the court. And I think he’s done an amazing job. Obviously it’s been a tough year for us with injuries and everything. But he’s not just settling. He’s not saying, okay, we’re on vacation. He’s still going out there and he wants us to fight every game, every night. And try to win games."
Jeff Hornacek is still pushing the Knicks to win games, and working on things he believes will help them next season — even if next season isn’t guaranteed for him. There’s been plenty of speculation about Hornacek’s job security. But the Knicks coach has one year remaining on his contract and is talking like someone who will still be coaching the Knicks next season.
“I still have next year so unless they tell me something different,” Hornacek said after Tuesday’s morning shootaround. When asked if he fully expects to be back, Hornacek responded, “I think everybody does.”
They are a rebuilding team and may want to start next season with the coach who will lead them through it. Management hasn’t given any indication publicly that Hornacek is that person. Knicks officials have said they will evaluate everything after the season. Some of the names linked to the Knicks’ coaching job have been Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Doc Rivers, Jerry Stackhouse, Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd.
With his team vying for a playoff spot despite trading off Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, Doc Rivers has done one of his best coaching jobs and still has strong supporters among the top people in the Clippers’ front office. If he stays on as coach, that could ruin the Knicks’ plans. There is a growing sentiment within New York’s hierarchy to hire Rivers, a former Knicks player, to replace Jeff Hornacek. Sources say Hornacek’s days in New York could be over once the season ends. It hasn’t been all of his fault, but he was brought to the Garden by former team president Phil Jackson and not the current regime headed by Steve Mills.
Jeff Hornacek's contract is up after the 2018-19 season, and Perry has said that he and Mills will evaluate Hornacek -- and all other aspects of the organization -- after the season. Hornacek was hired by former Knicks president Phil Jackson, so it certainly wouldn't be a surprise if Hornacek is let go by the club's new management after this season. [...] Some players have privately grumbled about Hornacek's rotations, according to sources familiar with the matter, but Hornacek was given the freedom to run his own offense and was handed an imbalanced roster and tasked with trying to fight for a playoff spot while developing young players.
It's premature to speculate on where the Knicks might go if they decide to let Jeff Hornacek go after the season. The group of available candidates could include Jason Kidd, David Fizdale, David Blatt, Monty Williams and current ESPN broadcaster and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who has strong relationships with several people in the Knicks organization. San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina will likely draw interest from teams with vacancies as well.
Phoenix and Memphis already have made coaching changes and according to several NBA team executives there could be as many as 10 job openings this offseason. That list could include both Los Angeles clubs as well as the Knicks, a team that has performed better than expected under Jeff Hornacek.
As for Doc Rivers, he’s done one of his best coaching jobs by keeping a depleted roster in the Western Conference playoff race in the post-Chris Paul era. If Rivers is out he may return to television although his name will surface in Orlando and New York should those jobs become available.
Rivers is one of several coaches with Knicks ties who could re-surface this summer. Mark Jackson would be in play for the Knicks job and is said to be interested in coaching again in the right situation. The same is true of Jeff Van Gundy, who is satisfying his coaching Jones by being in charge of the U.S. national team in qualification rounds.
As speculation about Jeff Hornacek’s job security ramps up, the coach said that he shouldn’t be judged on the team’s recent skid because these growing pains were part of a plan dictated by the front office. Jeff Hornacek also believes he has the backing of GM Scott Perry and president Steve Mills, despite being inherited by them as Phil Jackson’s hire. “We were talking about rebuilding and we got off to a good start because we had a lot of home games,” Hornacek said. “Scott and Steve, everybody’s still on the same page of trying to get our young guys opportunities. We’re still trying to win games. We still want to establish an identity where defensively we’re going to get after it all the time and we’re building toward that. It’s great to have their support.”
“You always want to win. We know it’s a process that we kind of got to grow into,” Hornacek said. "Players want to win every game. Coaches want to win every game. Management wants to win every game. But you also have to keep that big picture in mind and always think about are we making strides. Or are we just trying to win games and the strides stop? We always have to keep that in mind.”
Who’s next? With Chicago having fully entered rebuilding mode and presumably taking some heat off the embattled Fred Hoiberg, uncertainty shrouds the future of the Knicks’ Jeff Hornacek, largely because the executive who hired Hornacek in June 2016 — Phil Jackson — is already gone.
Some Knicks also feel that the offense is easy to defend. Opposing players have told the Knicks that they can predict where they'll be when running the triangle, and one Eastern Conference coach last season told friends that defending the triangle was one of the easiest assignments in the league because of that. The return to the triangle is one reason why several veterans have started to lose faith in Hornacek recently, sources say.
Despite the brutal record and growing input of Phil Jackson, who reversed the head coach’s offense, Jeff Hornacek’s job is safe, according to an NBA source. In his three years as team president, Jackson has had four head coaches and, though this club was built to win now, there’s no plan for a fifth head coach this summer. The Knicks fell out of the playoff race in early March and take a pitiful 27-41 record — the league’s seventh worst — into Thursday’s Garden rematch against the Nets.
When Jackson fired Derek Fisher in February 2016, during the coach’s second season, it was because of a poor won-loss record. Sources insist Fisher was dismissed because of his lack of communication with Jackson, failing to respond to his Jackson’s emails promptly and a passive-aggressive resistance to Jackson being involved with coaching aspects. Hornacek, according to an NBA source, gets high grades on both counts — maintaining a strong rapport with Jackson and associate head coach Kurt Rambis, Jackson’s longtime compatriot.
What Anthony and Porzingis said about the state of the Knicks on back to back days over the weekend was telling. Both players have questions about the coach, the offense, Jackson and the direction of the franchise.
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