Bravo to Phil Jackson for finally understanding that once he hires a head coach it is incumbent upon the team president to allow him to coach the team. How’s that for a novel concept.
It only took four head coaches plus the worst season in franchise history for the old Zen Master to have an epiphany. But this, my friends, is progress.
Phil Jackson is standing down. He’s not interfering, he’s not meddling and he’s not trying to coach the Knicks from the 10th row…without having to all those losses soil his Hall of Fame resume.
This revelation comes courtesy of Jackson’s newest coach, Jeff Hornacek, who on Sunday admitted that he was worried Jackson would be stuffing the triangle offense down his throat throughout training camp
“He’s kind of been hands off,” Hornacek said.
The Knicks for now will still run the run the triangle offense but Hornacek hinted that they’ll mostly run it out of time outs and dead ball situations. With a quick point guard in Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis, a pick-and-pop big man sent down from heaven, Hornacek’s plan is to play at a faster pace.
“I think in today’s game those early buckets are nice to get,” Hornacek added.
It makes absolutely no sense for Rose or Brandon Jennings to be walking the ball up, handing it off and running into a corner. That’s turning a strength into a weakness.
Slowing the pace and running the triangle is something Hornacek simply won’t do because “guys don’t like to run it.”
We’ve known that for two years. Derek Fisher knew it midway through his first year as rookie head coach. Hornacek probably realized in summer league that modifying the triangle offense gives the Knicks the best chance of breaking their three year playoff drought.
But I know what you’re thinking. It’s only the preseason and who’s to say that Jackson, whose ego is nearly as big as his salary James Dolan is paying him, won’t demand that Hornacek run the triangle 80% of the time as opposed to say 30% of the time. It’s a legitimate concern.
But think about it; Jackson needs Hornacek more than Hornacek needs Jackson. If this latest coaching hire goes the way of Fisher and Kurt Rambis, Jackson will be 0-for-3 with head coaches. (He’d really be 0-for-4 since he declined to re-hire Mike Woodson, who was the last Knicks coach not named Jeff Van Gundy to have any success the last 16 years). But we won’t nitpick.
If Hornacek doesn’t succeed here Jackson will have to explain why he never even considered interviewing Tom Thibodeau, Carmelo Anthony’s preferred choice, much less hire him.
Hornacek actually has a little leverage here. Jackson can’t force him to run an offense the players refuse to embrace and one that Hornacek has never run before. It won’t work.
Hornacek is clearly smart enough to realize that he’d lose the locker room if his playbook was shaped like a triangle. Instead, he scored a few brownie points with his new team by altering the offense and then having the guts to say publicly that that the team is not fond of Jackson’s antiquated system.
So a compromise has been reached. The triangle stays but only on Hornacek’s terms. This is the best thing to happen to the Knicks all preseason.
It will also be good for Jackson, who has been far too rigid in his new role. But Jackson is also smart. Fisher was one of his guys and he wanted to phase out the triangle. Jackson and Luke Walton are close but Jackson lost Walton to the Lakers. And Luke is not running the triangle.
The game has changed. Thankfully, Phil may finally be changing as well.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News