New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek doesn’t see himself getting fired before next season.
Although the Knicks have lost 13 of 14 games, including their last five, Hornacek told reporters before their Tuesday night flop against the Portland Trail Blazers that he fully expects to be back at the helm next season, per Newsday‘s Al Iannazzone:
Jeff Hornacek is still pushing the Knicks to win games, and working on things he believes will help them next season — even if next season isn’t guaranteed for him.
There’s been plenty of speculation about Hornacek’s job security. But the Knicks coach has one year remaining on his contract and is talking like someone who will still be coaching the Knicks next season. “I still have next year so, unless they tell me something different,” Hornacek said before the Knicks let Damian Lillard torch them for 37 points in Portland’s 111-87 blowout victory Tuesday night.
When Hornacek was asked if he fully expects to be back, Hornacek responded, “I think everybody does.”
Hornacek’s answer cannot merely be chalked up to coach-speak. Nor can the potential for his return be completely written off.
As he says, there’s still one year left on his contract. Beyond that, he’s not completely at fault for the Knicks’ demise. They weren’t a good team to begin with, and Kristaps Porzingis’ season-ending ACL injury only exacerbates their issues. His rotations can be infuriating; he doesn’t turn to rookie Frank Ntilikina enough, and it took him forever to steer into the youth movement. But that’s on the front office as well.
General manager Scotty Perry and team president Steve Mills have to mandate more playing time for the kiddies if they’re not getting enough. It’s different if they have and Hornacek ignores them. Assuming that’s not the case, everyone is culpable.
Beyond that, the Knicks have to weigh whether it even makes sense to back a coaching change. Never mind Hornacek’s contract situation. Porzingis isn’t expected back until Christmas time at the earliest. They won’t necessarily learn much about their team without him, no matter who’s at the helm. Sure, if this is a matter of thinking someone else out there will be better suited for grooming the rest of the roster, the Knicks should look into making a switch. Otherwise, they may just want to ride out Hornacek’s contract and revisit their coaching situation in the summer of 2019.