Nate Bjorkgren Rumors
The Suns will interview assistant coaches today before choosing an interim head coach. Corey Gaines, a former Phoenix Mercury head coach, was promoted from player development assistant to assistant coach before this season. Earl Watson and Nate Bjorkgren, a former D-League head coach, were promoted to front-row assistants on Dec. 28 following the firings of assistant coaches Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting.
Bjorkgren and Watson each have been viewed as rising stars in coaching but any rapid turnaround will be difficult for the Suns, who just lost their top scorer and playmaker and now face Cleveland at home and San Antonio and Oklahoma City on the road over the next four days. The Cavaliers, Spurs and Thunder are three of the NBA’s top four teams. The Suns’ staff also includes player development assistants Jason Fraser, Irving Roland and Chris Darnell, video coordinator Bret Burchard and assistant video coordinator Ross Geiger.
Ownership and management have been reluctant to fire Hornacek, affording him every chance to work the team out of its struggles, league sources said. Nevertheless, the firing of the assistant coaches was a shot close to Hornacek. Another assistant coach, Earl Watson, will move into a more prominent role on the Suns staff. Nate Bjorkman also was promoted with Watson.
Sources told ESPN.com on Sunday night that the Suns are promoting longtime NBA guard Earl Watson and former NBA D-League head coach Nate Bjorkgren to the bench to work closer to Hornacek and will dismiss veteran assistants Mike Longabardi, who was heading up Phoenix’s defense, and Jerry Sichting.