NBA Rumor: Jeff Hornacek Fired

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Knicks President Steve Mills and General Manager Scott Perry announced today that Jeff Hornacek has been relieved of his head coaching duties. Mills and Perry stated: “Jeff is a true professional who has worked tirelessly for this organization the last two seasons. We sincerely appreciate his efforts and considerable contributions to the team and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

That end came Monday, when the Suns fired Hornacek hours after a 91-78 loss to Dallas, Phoenix’s fourth straight defeat that capped a brutal 2-12 month of January. Since a startling 48-win season in 2013-14, the Suns have regressed rapidly, falling to 39 wins in 2014-15 and a 14-35 record a little more than halfway through this season. Hornacek, hailed as a brilliant hire after finishing second in the NBA Coach of the Year voting in 2014, has been criticized by scouts for an offensive system deemed far too simplistic. “They don’t run much of anything,” a scout told The Vertical recently. “It’s five guys, spread them out and try to beat you with basic stuff. It’s like watching an AAU game.”

Hornacek appears to want to stay in the NBA, according to league sources, and the Suns would be smart to give him another chance. He’s smart, and creative. He hasn’t done his best work this season, and there are clearly things he can improve upon. This is his first head job, after all. His brief “no technicals” rule last season seemed dictatorial, and he hasn’t been able to salvage the team’s relationships with Dragic, Thomas, and now Morris. Other people, including McDonough and Sarver, share in that job, and the team’s issues with those players stem more from personnel moves than Hornacek’s coaching. But he hasn’t been able to work any player-coach magic on that front.

Bjorkgren and Watson each have been viewed as rising stars in coaching but any rapid turnaround will be difficult for the Suns, who just lost their top scorer and playmaker and now face Cleveland at home and San Antonio and Oklahoma City on the road over the next four days. The Cavaliers, Spurs and Thunder are three of the NBA’s top four teams. The Suns’ staff also includes player development assistants Jason Fraser, Irving Roland and Chris Darnell, video coordinator Bret Burchard and assistant video coordinator Ross Geiger.
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