Jeff Hornacek. (Photo: Getty Images)

Jeff Hornacek has not had it easy as the head coach of the New York Knicks over the past two seasons. 

Dysfunction from his players up to the front office hasn't given him much of a chance to seriously contend and get the Knicks back into the playoffs for the first time since 2013. 

The departure of Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony prior to this season looked as though it would give Hornacek a fresh start with Kristaps Porzingis poised to take over as the leading man at Madison Square Garden. 

But a torn ACL limited Porzingis' first All-Star campaign to just 48 games and ended any semblance of hope that the Knicks could squeak into the playoffs. 

 

Entering Tuesday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Knicks are nine games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 24-40 record; just two losses away from a fifth-consecutive sub-.500 season. 

In his 146 games as Knicks head coach, Hornacek has been an abysmal 55-91, which would normally be an unacceptable mark for a big-market franchise. But general manager Scott Perry gave Hornacek a vote of confidence in early February to at least finish out the season.

It obviously remains to be seen what New York's plan will be come the offseason as Hornacek has one more year remaining on his contract.

With nothing else to lose this year though, one might expect the head coach to throw caution to the wind with a roster filled with players — like Emmanuel Mudiay, Trey Burke, Michael Beasley and Troy Williams — that have a lot to prove at the NBA level. 

Instead, Hornacek has coached conservatively as it looks like he is trying to take the safe route in order to save his job for next season. 

He's been hesitant to shake up the lineup, especially with Beasley struggling. In his last five games, he's averaging just 7.4 points on 34.1-percent shooting from the field. 

Hornacek has veteran Lance Thomas to step in, but there is also a pair of G-Leaguers who might as well get an extended look at the NBA level in Luke Kornet and Isaiah Hicks. Hicks received minutes in Sunday night's loss to the Sacramento Kings but Kornet has appeared in just one game since Valentine's Day.

A reason as to why Hornacek hasn't shaken things up yet is unclear as he told the media on Sunday night that it's because of "certain things," via the Chris Iseman of the Record.

If it's because of management's desires to keep the current lineup intact, that's one thing. If it's an unwillingness to take a risk and find the best possible lineup with what the Knicks have left, then Hornacek's timidness might lead to him being shown the door this summer.

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