Jeff Hornacek says NOT committing to the triangle 'probably wasn’t the greatest thing to do '

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Jeff Hornacek yells at 2018 addition John Salley to come meet the entry pass. (Getty Images)
Jeff Hornacek yells at 2018 addition John Salley to come meet the entry pass. (Getty Images)

It looks like New York Knicks team president Phil Jackson and, by extension, Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek have gotten one more chance. Either that, or the pair is ready to burn with the Viking Triangle Ship as the whole thing goes down.

For whatever reason, the Knicks appear to have announced their offense for the 2017-18 season and, Jackson certainly hopes, beyond.

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Speaking from practice in Salt Lake City on Wednesday ahead of the team’s nationally televised game against the Utah Jazz, Hornacek told assembled press that the Knicks would run the triangle or “triple post” (or “might not work anymore”) offense next season, that he was “all in” on the offense, and that the “triangle is here to stay.”

Actually, Hornacek didn’t really say those things. The quotes came from Newsday and New York Post headlines. What he did offer was a list of rather warm-water suggestions as to why the Knicks stunk this season, how they’ll work next year, and who will be around for the ride.

You’re welcome to conclude on your own whether or not Hornacek (who’d never played in nor coached the triangle prior to joining New York in 2016) is happily behind the offense, and how much he is saying this for Jackson’s benefit. From Newsday:

“Everybody coming into next year, we got to buy into the one way that we do it,” Hornacek said. “We probably tried to piece too many things together this year and we could never get it together quick enough. So we’ll look at everything next year.”

Hornacek took some of the responsibility for not stressing the system Jackson wants him to run right from the start.

“We were trying to find a balance,” Hornacek said. “We were trying to open the game up so the current players could run some of that stuff and still have the triangle set where we can get into some stuff.

“As it turns out, looking back, it probably wasn’t the greatest thing to do because you’re not focused on one or the other. You’re not getting enough of the same repetition of the same play and they can make reads off it. It’s something we have to make a decision on and just go with it.”

Hornacek then took on Shaquille O’Neal’s recent comments that the Knicks, and not the triangle that won Shaq three rings (as he says it), are behind New York’s 27-43 swoon in 2016-17:

“The stubbornness of it – because if you look at other teams in the league – they all kind of play the same way, so they see other teams playing it,’’ Hornacek said when asked his reaction to O’Neal’s comments. “I don’t know if it’s an easier, more fun way to play like all the other teams do. There is something with the knowledge if you can execute [the triangle] and pick teams apart, you can get to that stage, it probably gives you the best chance.’’

Would Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis have to get over that same “stubbornness of it,” if the three wanted to remain Knicks next season? From the New York Post’s Marc Berman:

Asked directly if that trio can lead a team to the playoffs, Hornacek said, “There’d have to be a – obviously if we go into it this year – no. If we turn around and have a different way we start, go right at however we’re going to run it next year, if it’s full triangle, it’s possible.

“You never know how these things will fit. Maybe a second year is helpful for us. I thought we got off to a decent start this year, then we had little injuries and lost close games and it piled on in confidence, got a little out of control. I don’t know. It’s something we’re going to really look at.’’

[…]

“There’s a lot of guys who do good things,’’ Hornacek said on whether he knows whom he wants to return. “We got to make sure whoever is on the team next year, we get guys who play as hard as they can every play. The defensive intensity obviously has to be picked up for guys next year. Scoring the basketball – we have the guys who can do that – but do we have the right fit who are running the system?

“If we can think with a fresh start of training camp, going to it right off the bat, if that helps us and Phil and Steve [Mills, the GM] think the same guys on the team can have a different outlook on it, they stay the same. If not, they’ll look at other guys.”

Hornacek … can’t possibly think this, right?

He’s a good man, and he’s trying to shift things as his franchise (and bosses see fit). Hornacek has nothing to lose by getting a little edgier with Anthony and Rose’s future with the club, because all those two have brought him thus far is 27 wins.

Luckily for Hornacek, Anthony is a good guy and Rose has but three weeks left as a Knick before free agency hits. It’s a wonder Rose is even still on the team’s active roster, with so little to gain outside of losing games for the … oh. We just realized why Rose is still on the team’s active roster.

Anthony, famously, has a no-trade clause. Kristaps Porzingis is a franchise fancy-horse on a rookie contract. Thanks, they’ll eat it here.

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That’s the push Jeff has to try to pull us with, likely straight from the top of a Madison Square Garden front office that has clearly had it with Rose and, to a lesser extent, Carmelo, while needing to throw off the scent when it came down to the needless, Knicks-old question of whether the team was fully committed to the triangle, or whether it hoped to make successful additions to triangle precepts.

As, oh, just about every NBA champion outside of Jackson’s Bulls and Lakers have.

The triangle’s most compelling features are interwoven through all facets of successful, winning basketball, right down to the offense’s ability to limit transition buckets on the other end. It is ubiquitous, even if Horace Grant isn’t directly involved. Running a hybrid offense including hoped-for obvious triangle parts, as the Knicks attempted under Derek Fisher and Hornacek (New York is ranked 16th in offense this season, up eight spots from 2015-16, yet in a less-successful season), brings you no shame.

And, as I blandly keep repeating, neither does running the triangle offense in full.

It just took Phil Jackson, by next October’s training camp, about 43 months too long.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!