The 2016-17 New York Knicks are a mess on defense.
I know; I’m as shocked as you are. As of Wednesday, coach Jeff Hornacek’s team ranks last in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions, with the Knicks surrendering at least 100 points in all six of their games so far this season.
Fortunately, Hornacek realized that he needed to do something quickly. Unfortunately, his solution was unofficially promoting assistant Kurt Rambis to the role of lead defensive assistant. Rambis, you’ll likely recall, was Phil Jackson’s chosen successor last season for Derek Fisher, whom the Knicks fired after a 23-31 start. Rambis’ coaching specialty was supposed to be his knowledge of the triangle offense. Now, he’s being asked to do a job for which he’s not suited.
But that’s not all, as both players and coaches seem to realize what a horrible decision this is. First, Hornacek mustered the type of enthusiasm you’d expect from a seven-year-old asked to do the dishes in explaining the decision to entrust Rambis with these new responsibilities (via New York Daily News):
“It could’ve been anybody,” Horncaek said. “It could’ve been Jerry (Sichting), could have been Corey (Gaines). We all talk as a coaching staff about the same things, so Kurt had some of these guys last year. Just felt it was better to put him in that.” […]
“We’ve had all the coaches do their own game in terms of what we want. I just felt that we’re probably better off with just one voice, so with Kurt, we are going to have him be the voice on the defense,” Hornacek said. “The other coaches will still do the reports, what they feel, they’ll talk with Kurt and Kurt will talk with me. That’s how we’ll go about that, just so there’s one voice, not three or four guys talking.”
The decision might make sense in theory, but Knicks start Carmelo Anthony doesn’t sound very optimistic:
So just to confirm:
New York has the worst defense in the league.
Their offensive-minded head coach just had to promote another offensive-minded head coach to the role of lead defensive assistant …
… and the team’s franchise superstar is going through the motions.
Not great, friends. Not great.
The Knicks, who acquired point guard Derrick Rose in a high-profile trade this offseason, are 2-4 to start the 2016-17 season. New York has missed the playoffs in three straight seasons prior to this year, with just three total postseason berths in Anthony’s time in New York.