Basketball: Knicks fire coach Jeff Hornacek

Jeff Hornacek during a Knicks game against the Philadelphia 76ers in April 2017.
Jeff Hornacek during a Knicks game against the Philadelphia 76ers in April 2017.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - When Phil Jackson hired Jeff Hornacek as coach of the New York Knicks two years ago, he had visions of pairing Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis on a playoff team.

But with the Knicks, such visions quickly become delusions as reality sets in. The games are played, the off-court craziness ensues, the team starts its summer break early and news conferences are scheduled to announce the latest round of firings.

Indeed, circumstances changed dramatically over Hornacek's two turbulent, losing seasons. Jackson, who was the president, has since departed for his Montana home, Anthony was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder and now Hornacek is leaving too, after the Knicks announced early on Thursday morning (April 12) that they had fired him.

Kurt Rambis, the associate head coach, was also dismissed, the Knicks said in a statement from team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.

Hornacek's tenure, which produced a record of 60-104, was troubled from the start. Anthony and Porzingis were not a natural pairing and Jackson's biggest moves - signing Joakim Noah and trading for Derrick Rose - were duds.

Without much talent to work with, the Knicks never established a clear identity, frustrating Hornacek with their defensive inconsistency (they are ranked 22nd in defence) and looking a step behind the league's best offenses. Hornacek's dismissal was an expected part of the new regime's efforts to retool the team.

Before coaching his last game on Wednesday in Cleveland, Hornacek told reporters that he would "love to continue with these guys."

"We didn't think it was going to be a one-year turnaround," Hornacek said.

But Hornacek will no longer lead that turnaround. He had one year left on his three-year, US$15 million (S$10 million) contract.

The Knicks did not give a timeline for hiring a new coach. Two names that have surfaced as possible successors are Doc Rivers and Mark Jackson. Rivers - who played for the Knicks from 1992 to 1994 - is the coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. Jackson, who coached the Golden State Warriors from 2011 to 2014, played for the Knicks from 1987 to 1992 and again in 2001 and 2002.