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Report: New York Knicks near deal to hire Jeff Hornacek as head coach

Jeff Hornacek

Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek directs his players in the second half of an NBA exhibition basketball game against the Houston Rockets Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, in Houston. The Rockets won 95-92. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)


This is as surprising as a Robin Lopez three.

The New York Knicks are going to hire former Suns coach Jeff Hornacek as their new head coach, reports Howard Beck of Bleacher Report.

This comes after weeks of hearing that Kurt Rambis was the front runner — backed by team president Phil Jackson — while names like David Blatt and Frank Vogel came into play. It also leads to some interesting questions:

• Is Hornacek going to run the triangle offense that Jackson wants? Did he say he would run parts or principles of it? Did Jackson lose a power struggle in the organization over this (and he could only lose that to owner James Dolan)?

• Can Hornacek get the team to defend, something he didn’t do fantastically in Phoenix (his teams were average, and something the Knicks need)?

• Will Kurt Rambis be part of his staff? If so, then the triangle stays. Either way, Rambis will have a job in the Knicks organization, possibly in the front office.

Carmelo Anthony should be happy — he wanted a broad coaching search, and ultimately Jackson hired outside the comfort zone of his coaching tree.

Knicks fans should be happy because it likely means a lot of Kristaps Porzingis at the five. And they’re happy because it’s not Kurt Rambis.

Hornacek could be a good hire by the Knicks, but with all things New York it will come down to the strings attached and backroom politics involved to see if he gets an honest chance to make it work.

Hornacek was let go mid-season by the Suns. Maybe the thing that doomed him most was the surprise 48-win campaign his first season in 2013-14 — after that, the Suns abandoned the idea of slow growth and tried to double down on the two point guard lineups. It never worked, more because management’s flawed building of the roster than anything Hornacek did. He was fairly creative with his sets, within the confines of the rosters he was given. It just didn’t work, the Suns were 14-35 last season when he was let go.

Hornacek replaces Rambis, who was the interim coach replacing Derek Fisher.