New York Knicks Jeff Hornacek Excited About Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis

Feb 2, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) against the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 2, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) against the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

New York Knicks head coach is looking forward to the change to work alongside budding superstar Kristaps Porzingis and the established Carmelo Anthony.

The New York Knicks officially signed Jeff Hornacek to become their 28th head coach earlier in the week, and on Friday he had his introductory press conference. Hornacek will have his hands full to get the Knicks back on track and into the postseason, and if he is going to accomplish that he would be smart to rely on his two best players; Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.

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Hornacek was excited about the opportunity to coach those two players, talking highly of them during the press conference. Hornacek knows a thing or two about great power forwards, as he played alongside one of the best to ever play the game in Karl Malone when he was with the Utah Jazz.

Hornacek thinks he could once again be working alongside greatness with Porzingis. Hornacek had extremely positive words for the 20-year old during the press conference, as he believes that Porzingis could become one of, if not the best player in the league eventually.

"“His ceiling -– wow. I don’t want to put pressure on the kid, but let’s face it: At that size and his skills and his abilities — why can’t he be a top-five player in this league?“Why can’t he be the best player in this league? He’ll continue to grow over these years. He’s 20 years old. He’s got a lot of things he’ll learn just from experience, and I’m sure five to six years from now you’ll be saying, ‘Look how good this kid is.’ He’s already good.”"

Knicks fans would love for that to happen, as it has been too long since they were able to draft a player and develop them to reach their potential. Hornacek is excited about working with Porzingis, and envisions using him in a multitude of ways offensively.

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Standing 7-feet-3 inches tall, you wouldn’t expect Porzingis to have much versatility offensively but he has all the tools to play all over the court. He can play on the perimeter knocking down jumpers and has the tools to be dominant in the post; no on is blocking the shot of someone that tall. Where he could really cause problems for opposing defenses is in the pick-and-roll.

The triangle offense does not have much pick-and-roll or free flowing action, but with Hornacek at the helm expect some of the things he used with the Suns to come along for the ride. With the Suns Hornacek relied on an up-tempo system, using plenty of pick-and-rolls and three-pointers. Those are both areas that Porzingis can excel in, and something Hornacek expects to take advantage of.

"“You don’t see guys who are 7-3 who can do multiple things,” Hornacek said. “In our offense, you can see him in some high pick-and-rolls, out of the sets we have, fading for 3’s. At 7-3, I still believe you can get him on the post. If a team wants to play him with a small guy and get into him, then you can throw him down there and take advantage of his height from there.“He’s got an inside game, he’s got an outside game — he’s 7-3,” Hornacek added. “How’s somebody going to guard him? Defensively he can help, block shots and be a presence inside. So two really good pieces there and then you add all the other role players that are going to fill their role. It’s got a good balance of vets, got some young guys. It’s what you look for.”"

While Hornacek gushed about Porzinigs and the potential that he has, he also praised Anthony. Hornacek knew first hand the difficulties to win without a bonafide player while coaching with the Phoenix Suns, as they had nice players but no one that struck fear into opposing defenses or could carry his team nigh in and night out. That is part of the reason they made a run at LaMarcus Aldridge last summer.

That move didn’t pan out for the Suns, as they were left with a brittle Tyson Chandler and a mismatched roster that traded away a lot of talent for the chance to sign Aldridge. It all resulted in Hornacek being fired and landing with the Knicks months later, where he is excited to have a superstar already in place.

"“I think any time you’ve got a superstar, I think that gives you a chance, and we have that in Carmelo,” Hornacek said. “It’s just a matter of building around him at other levels. I don’t think we’re that far off.“There’s a lot of money on the free-agent market that’s out there. We have to try to maybe get a couple of these guys to help us out. We’re always looking to get better players, and if you have five All-Stars on your team, you’d be set. But you have one on the team, you have one that maybe will develop … and hopefully you get one or two guys in free agency.”"

Hornacek also added that he believes the Knicks are only a few pieces away from contending. That is something that Knicks fans and Anthony will like to hear, but it is up to the front office to continue putting those pieces together on the court.

Hornacek has shown with the Suns that he is capable of growing younger players and getting the most out of the roster given to him. But, it is certainly easier to coach and win games when you have great players on the court, something the Knicks currently do not have an abundance of.

That is what makes this summer so important for the Knicks, as all of the main contributors to this process, Hornacek, Phil Jackson and Anthony, are working on three-year deals. That is a sign that the Knicks are looking to build a contender quickly and win now.

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If they are to do that, they will need to make some progress in free agency and address some of their needs. There is only so much Hornacek can do without a backcourt, as point guard and shooting guard are the two areas the Knicks should attack this summer. After those pieces are in place, it is then time to let Hornacek get to work and begin molding these players as he was doing in Phoenix before the front office undermined him and blew up the roster.