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  1. #1
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    Default Horn on Hot Seat; Mark Jax whispers surface

    Jeff Hornacek might be coaching for his job over the Knicks' final 37 games this season, according to Frank Isola of NY Daily News. Isola also reports there are 'whispers' that Mark Jackson may return to the franchise and replace Hornacek.

    The Knicks 105-99 loss to the Grizzlies on Wednesday night served as a gut-punch to their playoff hopes, a demoralizing loss that dropped the team to 20-25, four games in the loss column out of the East's final playoff spot.

    After the game, Hornacek refused to blame questionable officiating towards the end of the game.

    "You got to go out there and take the game right from the start and we didn't do it," Hornacek said.

    The Knicks were down 15 points heading into the fourth quarter and nearly pulled out a comeback win against the Grizzlies, who were without PG Mike Conley, F Chandler Parsons, and C Marc Gasol. He believes the team simply didn't fight hard enough from the opening tip.

    "We have to scrap, claw and our guys didn't do that in the beginning," Hornacek said. "We're down 18 and now all of a sudden we want to play defense."

    The loss to Memphis kicked off a six-game road trip. The Knicks play the Jazz on Friday then Lakers next, before playing the Warriors, Nuggets then Suns to conclude the trip.

    Jake Brown | Twitter |

    Jeff Hornacek is very lucky that his top assistant is Kurt Rambis. He's also lucky that it's nearly impossible to bring a brand new head coach in during the season to try and get acclimated to a team. Hornacek should 100 percent be coaching for his job the rest of the season. As of right now, the chances of him being back next season should be very close to 0 percent. The Knicks don't have a star-studded roster by any means, but they are finding ways to lose inexplicably, and Hornacek fails to ever take the blame for it.

    In the midst of losing seven of their last nine games to fall five games under .500, Hornacek has failed to make adjustments. How is Lance Thomas still in the starting lineup? His defense is good at times, but he's a complete liability offensively. How is Jarrett Jack still starting when you have youth in Frank Ntilikina and now Trey Burke? How is Joakim Noah and Willy Hernangomez almost never playing whatsoever? The team continues to fall short in the fourth quarter, and fatigue plays a huge factor. When there are capable players being wasted on the bench, you're failing as a head coach. When a team is in a losing streak, lineups have to be altered, rotations have to be changed, and guys need to be held accountable. Hornacek has failed in every sense of the word as a head coach.

    Last season, this team underachieved dramatically under Hornacek. This season, they have shown spurts of a playoff team, and now are heading in a lottery direction. The coach has to get the blame for an underachieving team. Hornacek was never the right hire in the first place, and his coaching is almost robotic in nature. Mark Jackson is obviously the name Knicks fans would love because of his history with the franchise. Jackson would actually be a good fit. He will hold guys accountable and he'll make adjustments. If Hornacek returns next year, expect the same nice first half and pitiful second half of the season.

    (Theknicksblog)




    Jeff Hornacek isn't to blame, but Knicks may not keep him around

    NY Daily News / Frank isola


    The Jerry Sloan in Jeff Hornacek surfaced late Wednesday night in Memphis when reporters offered a convenient alibi for an inexcusable loss, in this case a controversial technical foul in the closing seconds. The Knicks head coach refused to take the bait.

    "Meaningless," Hornacek called it. "You got to go out there and take the game right from the start and we didn't do it."

    A little tough love for this group, especially after the way the Knicks defended for three quarters against the no-name Grizzlies, is a good thing.

    "We have to scrap, claw and our guys didn't do that in the beginning," Hornacek added. "We're down 18 and now all of a sudden we want to play defense."

    Hornacek should fight back because, like most coaches of losing teams, he is constantly fighting for his job, particularly when he's working for new bosses and whispers of Mark Jackson possibly returning to New York one day grow louder. Yes, that Mark Jackson.

    Whether that is just normal NBA chatter or an actual succession plan is unclear. But there is a growing sense that Hornacek, who has exceeded expectations this season, may be coaching for his job the last 37 games.

    The Knicks will enter Friday's game in Utah with a 20-25 record and their season at a crossroads. With five games remaining on their Western Conference road trip, the Knicks need good results in both Utah and against the Lakers on Sunday because the schedule only gets tougher; Golden State Tuesday, Denver Thursday and finally Phoenix on a back-to-back Friday to conclude the trip.

    A worst-case scenario would be the Knicks limping home 10 games under .500 and a playoff berth slipping away. And as sure as Willy Hernangomez records another DNP you will hear management reminding everyone that this is, after all, a rebuilding year.

    That is how Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry want to be judged in Year One of their regime. That's fair. But will the front office judge Hornacek the same way or is he evaluated simply on wins and losses? Fairness usually has nothing to do with the job evaluation of a head coach.

    Hornacek knows how the game works. In theory, he was not hired by Mills or Perry and without a strong allegiance to the front office he is therefore vulnerable. Maybe that's why two coaches from different staffs told me they keep hearing Jackson's name floated out as a possible successor when and if the Knicks were to make a change. Even Doc Rivers' name is making the rounds even though he is under contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.

    That speculation could be based on nothing more than the Knicks’ history of hiring and firing head coaches the way the current White House administration discards staff members. But it's out there.

    Hornacek is surely aware of it and even with the public backing of both Mills and Perry he understands that losses like Sunday's against the Pelicans and Wednesday's in Memphis don't help.

    Following a loss to Minnesota last week, Hornacek declared that the Knicks were "not far off" from being a team that could make a second-half run. Was he talking to the players, the fans, the front office or was it all three?

    His words didn't sound desperate. Hornacek just seemed to be asking for patience and a legitimate chance in the post-Phil Jackson era.

    When you evaluate Hornacek after 45 games, it's misguided to assign blame to him. Who thought the Knicks, whose front office described this as a rebuilding season from the get-go, would have 20 wins after 45 games? And that's with Tim Hardaway Jr., Mills' first major free-agent signing, missing nearly half the season with an injured leg.

    Jarrett Jack and Courtney Lee are professional players with solid credentials but in a guard-dominated league, where does the Knicks' starting backcourt rank in the NBA?

    Kristaps Porzingis is still only 22, rookie Frank Ntilikina is developing and Michael Beasley has been rejuvenated.

    The decision not to play Hernangomez, however, remains a curious one. The Knicks want to make the playoffs, and if Hornacek feels he has better options at forward and center that's his prerogative. But at some point Hernangomez needs to play, even if that means shipping him to the G-League to get some run.

    A constant complaint among the fan base is Hornacek's rotation, as well as his loyalty to Lance Thomas. But on a roster of similar role players, Hornacek is constantly searching for the right combination. The best teams usually have a set eight- to nine-man rotation. The Knicks don't have a best eight, that's for sure.

    As for Thomas, he's a defensive-minded player who can guard multiple positions. And that's critical if you're going to start a front line featuring Porzingis and Enes Kanter.

    "I find it amusing when I hear the criticism of Jeff," one NBA coach told me. "With Phil (Jackson) gone he's running the team his way now. Everyone loves to praise Steve Kerr, but I'm telling you Steve would not do a better job with this Knicks team than Jeff has done. I'm not sure what people expected this year."

    In a development season, the Knicks are developing under Hornacek. His team shares the ball, they appear to get along as a group and they play hard. And they're winning more than most expected. But is it enough?

    The Knicks front office has 37 more games to decide that. Hornacek should just keep fighting.

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  2. #2
    12th man
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    Hornacek coaching performance would be great as an assistant head coach .. Hornacek does not have the potential or creative mindset to be a NBA head coach.
    Ex-Knicks player Mark Jackson should have been hired to be the Knicks head coach a season before the Knicks hired Phil Jackson triangle offense.

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