Cleat Geeks

What In God’s Name Is Going On In New York?

The New York Knicks have one of the richest history’s in the NBA. It has been a long time since the days of Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley and Willis Reed and their title in 1970.patrickEwing

Apart from that, the Knicks were a solid competitive team in the 80’s and 90’s, led by big man Patrick Ewing. There is the mecca of all sports, Madison Square Garden. There is the mystique of Spike Lee and his unabashed fandom. Even as today’s Knicks toil in mediocrity, a game in The Garden is still an event.

That said, what the hell is Phil Jackson doing to the Knicks? There is no denying that he found a diamond in last year’s draft in the form of Kristaps Portzingis. The team is still centered around an aging superstar Carmelo Anthony, one of the best one way players in today’s game. With Portzingis as an emerging star and the hubris that comes along with Melo, how on earth could Phil think the answer to his problems was Jeff Hornacek?

porzingusHornacek boasts a record of 101-112 in his 2 plus seasons experience with the Phoenix Suns. This record includes a 48-34 mark in his debut year in which Hornacek finished second in the Coach of the Year voting. This record also includes a mark of 14-35 during his final half season that was one of the largest dumpster fires in recent NBA memory. To put it mildly, Hornacek’s run on the sidelines in Phoenix was uneven. The swan song that was his final season left less than a modicum of evidence that he was fit to jump head first into another job.

Hornacek was bullied by Marcus Morris. Morris’ twin Markieff, threw a towel at Hornacek during one of the most baffling failures to acquiesce to a trade demand earlier this season. Players at the end of the Suns bench, namely Archie Goodwin, blasted Hornacek on local radio for his failure to define roles with the younger players in Phoenix. Players like PJ Tucker and Eric Bledsoe laughed openly during the final moments of a road game in Memphis as Hornacek tried to draw up a final play on the grease board. These were the incidents fans and pundits saw. It can be safely assumed that there were more incidents parallel to these behind the scenes.

Then there were Hornacek’s rotations with his bench. Players would play 20 minutes one night, and then not play for 2 or 3 games following. Uneven playing time is not something that is helpful for a young player’s confidence. Despite all but certainly being aware of this fact, which seems like common sense, Hornacek continued to yo-yo young guys minutes. Players like TJ Warren and Devin Booker were often passed over for guys like Jon Leuer and Sonny Weems. Passing over first team All Rookie selection Devin Booker for Weems is ludicrous. Yet Hornacek did this on a nightly basis early in this season.jeff

Hornacek had success his first year in Phoenix because nobody expected the Suns to be anything other than an easy W out West.

Goran Dragic was 3rd team All NBA, Gerald Green was one of the top scoring reserves in the league. Channing Frye dropped bombs from downtown game after game. The Suns were the darlings of the league. They wound up gutting out 48 wins and narrowly miss the postseason.

This was an aberration. The following year the Suns were figured out. The combination of Dragic and Eric Bledsoe proved to not be as successful as the Suns were hoping. The Morris brothers slowly spread like a cancer throughout the locker room. Hornacek began losing control of the players. They would finish the year 39-43 and miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season.

With guys like Kevin McHale and Frank Vogel (Vogel would later sign with Orlando) available you have to wonder what Phil is thinking. Hornacek is one of the worst coaches in the league, incapable of reaching today’s players, relatively clueless when it comes to rotations and riding the hot hand. This will not sit well with Carmelo. The notion that Carmelo is going to put all his faith and focus behind a guy like Hornacek is laughable.

New York has been in the cellar for a while. With this hire, things don’t look to be changing any time soon. I predict that the bright lights and pressures of New York will make this coaching stint for Hornacek shorter than his debut effort in Phoenix.

I have to think that Phil’s days are numbered with decisions like these.

Watching Phil’s demeanor and his activity on social media, does he even care about this job?

Surely doesn’t seem that way.

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