The Knicks finally made it official and announced the hiring of Jeff Hornacek on Thursday morning.
He will be introduced as the Knicks’ new coach at a press conference Friday.
The Knicks targeted Hornacek to replace Kurt Rambis, and offered him the job two weeks ago. Negotiations concluded this week and Hornacek agreed on a deal that reportedly is for three years and $15 million.
Hornacek is the Knicks’ fourth coach in three years and third that team president Phil Jackson has hired since taking over in March 2014. Jackson is entrusting Hornacek in ending the Knicks’ three-year playoff drought. They are 49-115 under Jackson’s watch.
Jackson went outside of his circle of trust by choosing Hornacek, someone who doesn’t run the triangle offense. It was a surprise move since the former Suns coach has little ties to Jackson.
At his end-of-season press conference in April, Jackson said he would interview “only people I probably know” and he wanted “someone who has compatibility with what I do as a leader and would have to be in sync with what we do.”
Jackson interviewed former Cavaliers coach David Blatt, ex-Pacers coach Frank Vogel and Warriors assistant Luke Walton, who took the Lakers’ coaching job.
But it was widely believed that Rambis would be given the job on a full-time basis, especially after he and Jackson ran a two-day triangle seminar/mini-camp for Knicks players a week after the season ended. They’re also close friends.
Jackson went a different route, and picked Hornacek, the former shooting guard whom Jackson liked as a player.
Hornacek was 101-112 in parts of three seasons with the Suns. His most success came in his first year when the Suns went 48-34. Hornacek used a two point guard system that worked since he had Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic running it. He finished second in the coach of the year voting.
Things turned quickly for Hornacek in Phoenix due to some questionable personnel decisions, injuries and turmoil last season. He went 39-43 in his second season and was fired Feb. 1 with the Suns holding a 14-35 record.
The former Iowa State guard was drafted in the second round by the Suns in 1986. He made one All-Star team, and was a key player on the Utah Jazz’s back-to-back NBA Finalist teams in 1997 and 1998. They lost both series to Jackson’s Bulls.
Jackson hasn’t reached the playoffs as an executive and Hornacek hasn’t done it as a coach. Now the two are on the same side and after the same thing.