Sources: Candidates to replace Knicks' Jeff Hornacek include David Fizdale, David Blatt, Mark Jackson

ByAdrian Wojnarowski ESPN logo
Thursday, April 12, 2018

The New York Knickshave fired coach Jeff Hornacek, the team announced Thursday morning.

"Jeff is a true professional who has worked tirelessly for this organization the last two seasons," Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry said in a joint statement. "We sincerely appreciate his efforts and considerable contributions to the team and wish him well in his future endeavors."

Mills and Perry said they informed Hornacek of his firing upon the team's return to suburban New York following a flight back from Cleveland, where the Knicks beat theCavaliers110-98.

The Knicks went 60-104 under Hornacek, the sixth-worst record in the NBA over that stretch, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"We know the roster is not complete, we understand our roster as well as anybody,'' Perry said at a news conference Thursday at the team's training facility. "But again, just in terms of consistency and then a trend I would say toward consistency, Steve and I thought we fell a little bit short in that area.''

Hornacek had one year left on his contract. Kurt Rambis, the associate head coach under Hornacek, was also dismissed.

"Jeff is a positive person and I think he was hopeful that there would be another opportunity, but he's a pro,'' Mills said. "He's a good man and he took it well.''

New York made the first of what are expected to be several coaching changes this offseason, joining Milwaukee, Phoenix and Memphis on the market. Those three teams made coaching changes during the regular season, inserting interim head coaches.

Orlandofired Frank Vogel on Thursday, and the futures of Charlotte coach Steve Clifford and Detroit president/coach Stan Van Gundy are expected to be determined in the coming days.

Perry, who was hired as general manager in July, will finally have the chance to hire his own coach -- and the team's 11th since the 2001-02 season. The Knicks are determined to stay the course on drafting and player development as they await the return of All-Star center Kristaps Porzingis, who isn't expected back until midway through next season as he recovers from a torn ACL.

New York is targeting the summer of 2019 to explore the free-agent market in a serious way, when the team could have significant salary-cap space and Porzingis is back to full strength.

In a competitive marketplace this spring, the mystique of Madison Square Garden, as well as the resources and willingness to pay a lot in terms of coaching salary, gives New York a distinct advantage in recruiting available candidates.

Former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, former Cavaliers coach David Blatt -- now coaching in Turkey -- and formerGolden State Warriorscoach Mark Jackson are among the candidates the Knicks are planning to contact, league sources told ESPN.New York also plans to contact Jerry Stackhouse, the head coach of Toronto 905, the Toronto Raptors' G League affiliate, according to sources.

Hornacek was hired by then-team president Phil Jackson and then-GM Mills prior to the 2016-17 season.

New York hasn't reached the playoffs in five seasons and has one playoff series win in the past 18 years. In Hornacek's first season in New York, Jackson requested that Hornacek blend elements of the triangle offense with what the coach preferred to run. The combination hindered the Knicks all season, as New York finished 2016-17 ranked 18th in offensive rating.

"Jeff is a good guy,'' forward Michael Beasley said after Wednesday's victory. "He played the hand he was dealt. It's difficult to do anything because all you're thinking about is not to mess up.''

This season, Mills and Perry said they would evaluate Hornacek based on the development of younger players and the team's improvement on defense over the course of the season.

ESPN's Ian Begley and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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