GREENBURGH, NY -- Ex-Knicks coach Larry Brown thinks team president Phil Jackson should coach the club if he wants New York to run the triangle offense, which the team has re-emphasized since the All-Star break.
"I can't figure out how you can hire a coach and tell him how you want him to play. I can't figure out how you can draft players for a coach that you know coaches a certain a style, and has been successful doing that style, and get him to play a style that you feel comfortable with," Brown said in an interview on Sirius XM NBA Radio, alluding to Jackson and Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek.
"Then you coach. You're talking about one of the greatest coaches in the history of our sport. Let him coach. If he wants to do the triangle, put it in, let him coach it, and then teach everybody around and get the players that are comfortable playing it."
Earlier this season, Hornacek, in his first season in New York, de-emphasized the triangle, saying at one point that the club was running it "much less" than 50 percent of the time. Hornacek said late last week, though, that the club has been running the triangle more often in games after the All-Star break. He added that Jackson was not behind the decision.
Jackson, of course, won a combined 11 championships while using the triangle offense as a coach in Chicago and Los Angeles, but the Knicks have struggled to run the offense during Jackson's presidency.
New York ran the offense exclusively in Jackson's first full season with Derek Fisher as coach. Fisher tried to tweak the offense in his second season in New York, which was a source of contention between he and Jackson, sources say. Jackson fired Fisher midway through last season and, after a stint with Kurt Rambis as interim head coach, hired Hornacek. In a clear sign that the triangle has returned to prominence, Hornacek said on Tuesday that players will be evaluated at the end of the season, in part, based on their ability to execute the triangle aspects of the offense.
"As times goes on, you say can they get it? Are they getting better at it?" Hornacek said, when asked about the system of offense. "End of the year comes and we're having our discussions and you say, 'Can this guy play this offense?' We'll say either yea or nay or he's getting it, he's getting better. So I'm sure that's part of evaluations this summer."
It's unclear what this means for players like Derrick Rose, a free agent this summer who last week talked about how difficult it was to learn the offense and referred to it as "random basketball."
Current Knicks have privately complained about the triangle as well, bemoaning its slow pace and predictable nature. It's worth noting, though, that the Knicks have been competitive in their past two games while running more of Jackson's preferred offense.
"It helps us to balance and make the other teams work a little bit," he said.
The Knicks, of course, have struggled on both ends of the floor for much of the season. They enter play Tuesday 5.5 games out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference, having lost seven of their past 10 games.
Regarding Brown's suggestion that Jackson coach, the 71-year-old has said on several occasions that he doesn't plan to return to the bench. New York ranks 16th in offensive efficiency and 25th in defensive efficiency, performing well below internal and external expectations entering the season.