Knicks, Jeff Hornacek agree to 3-year, $15M deal, per sources

ByIan Begley ESPN logo
Thursday, June 2, 2016

NEW YORK -- The Knicks and Jeff Hornacek have agreed to a three-year, $15 million contract, sources confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday. There is no fourth-year option on Hornacek's deal, sources say.

The Knicks are expected to announce the agreement and hold a news conference for Hornacek by the end of the week, according to sources.

Hornacek, 53, will be the Knicks' fifth coach in six seasons. He will be the second coach Phil Jackson has hired since taking over as team president late in the 2013-14 season. The length of Hornacek's contract, earlier reported by The Vertical, matches the years remaining on Jackson's contract with the Knicks.

It will be the second head-coaching job for Hornacek, who coached thePhoenix Sunsfrom 2013 to 2016.

Hornacek met with Jackson for several hours in Los Angeles last month and followed that meeting with a dinner in Manhattan and a tour of the club's facility in Westchester, New York, sources say.

In addition to Hornacek, Jackson and the Knicks interviewed Frank Vogel and David Blatt for their opening. Jackson also strongly considered promoting interim coach Kurt Rambis, according to sources, and casually discussed the Knicks' vacancy with Golden State Warriors assistant Luke Walton, who eventually was hired by the Los Angeles Lakers.

It is unclear if Rambis will serve as an associate head coach on Hornacek's staff or return to the club in another capacity.

The annual value of Hornacek's contract, which was earlier reported by the New York Daily News, is higher than the approximately $4.5 million annually that Derek Fisher earned as a first-year coach under Jackson.

Jackson had a fondness for Hornacek as a player. As a shooting guard with the Utah Jazz, Hornacek competed against Jackson's Chicago Bullsin two NBA Finals.

Hornacek and Jackson connected during interviews, but Hornacek's hire caught many in the organization off guard, sources say. Most believed Jackson would end up hiring Blatt or Rambis.

Hornacek will inherit a club that won a combined 49 games in the past two seasons.

Jackson and the Knicks hope to build a team that can contend for a playoff spot around rookie Kristaps Porzingis and veteranCarmelo Anthony. The club does not have a first-round draft pick this year but projects to have at least $19 million to spend in free agency.

The organization hopes that Hornacek's presence can aid its pitch to free agents.

Hornacek coached the Sunsfor 2 seasons and was fired in February after the team lost 19 of 21 games and 14 straight on the road. In Hornacek's first season in Phoenix, he led theclub to 48 wins, more than doubling most Las Vegas win totals and finishing second in coach of the year voting to San Antonio's Gregg Popovich.

Amid a rash of injuries and chemistry issues, the Suns had a 14-35 record and had fallen into 13th place in the 15-team West when Phoenix cut ties with him.

Hornacek spent the first six years of his 14-year NBA playing career with the Suns, making his only All-Star Game in 1992. He played for the Jazz from 1993-94 to 1999-2000. After retirement, Hornacek spent several years away from the game to be with his family but returned to Utah in 2007 in an advisory role to help Andrei Kirilenko with his shot and eventually became a full-time assistant with the Jazz.

Related Video