Well, this isn't totally out of nowhere, but it's still a surprise:
Breaking: Knicks will hire Jeff Hornacek as head coach, per NBA source.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 18, 2016
On Hornacek-Knicks: It's "as close as humanly possible," per source, tho not official. Deal is expected soon, barring any unforeseen snags.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 18, 2016
We knew Hornacek got an interview, and we knew from Beck a while ago that Phil Jackson liked him, but because he's neither a former Phil co-worker nor a friend of Steve Mills, he doesn't come close to fitting what we were told to expect from this coaching search. As Chris Herring explained earlier this week, Hornacek's spread-floor, pick-and-roll-heavy, fast-breaking style bears far less resemblance to the Triangle than the offenses preferred by, say, Frank Vogel or David Blatt (or, of course, Kurt Rambis), so it'll be fascinating to see how this partnership works.
Hornacek comes to New York a half-season after the Suns fired him, which came just two seasons after he was Coach of the Year runner-up with a 48-34 record (but no playoff appearance) in his first season. After that, injuries piled up, the young roster changed and then seemed to rebel, Hornacek's assistants got fired, and eventually so did he. He's got prior experience as an assistant in Utah and Philadelphia, and he once destroyed me in ping-pong.
Immediate questions bubbling to mind in my state of excitement and surprise: What does Melo think of this? What becomes of Kurt Rambis? Lead assistant? "Defensive coordinator"? Executive? How about the rest of Hornacek's staff? What does a system coached by Hornacek and overseen by Phil look like? It's all unknown, and frankly pretty exciting. Hornacek seems to me like a very good coach, just not at all the one I expected.
In closing: Leaks about Phil Jackson's are to be ignored 99% of the time. Forever and always.
Truly in closing: Kurt Rambis is not head coach of the Knicks. Thank the lord. Any lord. Pick a lord and thank that lord.
Update: I trust Beck completely, but note that other reporters insist a deal is not done:
There's no deal in place with Hornacek, according to a source. Negotiations are in very, very early stages. There's mutual interest.— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) May 19, 2016
FYI: A source close to Jeff Hornacek says talks still on-going. No deal as of yet. "Not sure why all these reports out there," source said.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) May 19, 2016
It appears that Phil Jackson has decided on Jeff Hornacek but as of now the two sides do not have a contract in place.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) May 19, 2016
If you want pictures, here are some pictures:
Exclusive story with pictures of Phil Jackson, Steve Mills and Jeff Hornacek leaving dinner https://t.co/V2Un6Dt8hm— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) May 19, 2016