There’s an Eastern Conference guard out there who was linked to the New York Knicks this season. When the idea of coming to New York was discussed with this guard, he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in playing in the club’s triangle offense, according to sources.
"He didn’t think it would work for him," one source said.
That could be dismissed as one player’s opinion, of course. But he’s probably not the only one who feels this way about the triangle.
Some in the Knicks' organization feared that the negative perception of their offense hurt them in free agency.
Does that perception change now that Jeff Hornacek is here?
"He’s got a creative offensive mind," one Eastern Conference executive said. "And he’s a good communicator. He should help them."
Of course, it would be unrealistic to expect Hornacek to cure all the perception issues surrounding the Knicks. He can’t change the fact that the club is coming off of a 32-win season.
But Hornacek did say a few things during his introductory interviews that might alter the way players think about the Knicks’ offense:
He plans to use the triangle offense as a way to space his team in half-court sets, just as other coaches have. But he will blend elements of the offense he ran with the Suns into his approach with the Knicks.
He might tweak the offense by implementing more pick-and-roll and 3-point shooting.
Ideally, he’d like to increase the Knicks’ overall pace.
He has also received assurances from team president Phil Jackson that he can use any of the plays he ran in Phoenix out of the triangle alignment.
One of the most important things Hornacek said Friday, though, wasn’t about the intricacies of the triangle or how he might tweak it.
It was about how he plans to talk to his players about the offense. He discussed his approach in an interview on ESPN 98.7 FM’s "The Michael Kay Show":
"I think it’s just maybe a different way to explain [it] to them and maybe show them a little bit more how it isn’t very different than other setups," Hornacek said. "That’s part of the plan I have to come here; when I meet with the players, I’m going to show [them] all this stuff and explain it the way I look at it and how [the triangle] isn’t a lot different, and that we can do a lot of different things.
"There are still a lot of aspects of the triangle that you’re going to use. It’s great to use actually. It’s really not that complicated, I don’t believe. And I think the way we explain to the players, they’ll understand that and -- mixed in with a lot of the stuff [we] did with Phoenix -- I think they’ll enjoy it."
'Enjoy' probably isn’t a word that some of the Knicks would use to describe their experience on offense over the past two seasons. The club ranked in the bottom five in points per possession during that span and won a total of 49 games. According to sources with knowledge of the dynamic, several Knicks aren’t enamored with the triangle and are excited about the prospect of Hornacek tweaking the offense.
None of this is to suggest that the triangle offense can’t work in today’s NBA. The biggest issue for the Knicks over the past two years has been a talent gap, not a faulty offensive approach.
But there was a negative perception of the triangle around the NBA last season -- both inside the Knicks’ locker room and in the minds of other players. That’s a problem, and it’s one Jeff Hornacek might be able to fix.