Jeff Hornacek Rumors

CycloneFanatic.com reported Wednesday that Jeff Hornacek, through his agent, declined to meet with Iowa State about its coaching vacancy. However, Steve Kauffman, who represents Hornacek, called the story “simply inaccurate” on an attached message board. A source confirmed to CBSports.com that Kauffman is the actual poster. Subsequent to his initial post, Kauffman posted this: “[Iowa State officials] knew they had to request permission in a certain manner from the Phoenix Suns. I do not wish to allocate the blame as to the parties at fault here. But it’s a shame.”
When asked, Hornacek said his plan is to be in Phoenix for a long time. “I hope so,” he said. “When Ryan (McDonough) and I came in here we wanted to get this team from 25 wins and a lot of stuff that was going on to back to the level that the Suns are used to. “We had a good start the first year, had some things not go as well last year, but even with that we’re still about what we were the year before that.”
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If Hoiberg takes the job, chances are Hornacek’s phone will ring. Will he answer it? I can’t comment on that,” Hornacek told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “I’m the coach of the Suns. It’s an interesting coaching carousel that goes on around the league and even down to the college level. So, if those things ever come about and the timing was right, yes, but as far as I know I’m the coach of the Suns.”
The Suns coach is entering the final season of a three-year contract, which screams “lame duck” in the coaching universe. If management wants to first distance itself from a disappointing season, that’s understandable, but an extension, or at least picking up Hornacek’s fourth-year option, should be on the team’s offseason agenda. Speculation that Iowa State will pursue him if the Chicago Bulls hire Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg makes sense. They love Hornacek, a four-year player in Ames, and know that just a year ago he was runner-up for NBA Coach of the Year. The rumors have picked up enough steam that Hornacek addressed the issue again Friday. “As far as I know, Fred’s still the coach and they’ve got some great assistants there,” he said. “It would be an honor and it’d be fun to coach your alma mater, but Ryan (Suns GM Ryan McDonough) and I came here with a purpose and the purpose is to get the Phoenix Suns back on track.
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Hornacek has an ideal relationship with the front office, regularly meeting after practices and games and sharing the same philosophies. It will be interesting to see whether management wants to pick up Hornacek’s 2016-17 contract option year and can convince Managing Partner Robert Sarver to do so. It would show their belief in him before next season, his contract’s last guaranteed year.
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The biggest headline for the Suns over the last few days has been Hornacek’s controversial rule for technical fouls that states simply, “If you get a T for arguing with an official, you’re benched for the rest of the game.” What seemed like an idle threat at first quickly became reality when Goran Dragic was benched against the Houston Rockets after picking up a technical, and then again when Morris picked up one against the Clippers.
Hornacek said he once again addressed the issue with his team, mentioning some slight changes to a rule many criticized as being too harsh for a playoff-hopeful squad. “We talked about it,” he said. “We’ve tried both ways and we’re just going to try to do a better job as a team, as teammates, to corral each other when they start to argue. The guys came up with that. “They have been better, it hasn’t been — you know both Goran and Keef’s technical, it wasn’t constant yelling, it was just a couple of times. So I told them, ‘Hey, if you guys do that, and kind of help each other out there on the court, we’ll kind of look at it and it might be my discretion whether we do it for the rest of the game so we don’t have that necessarily hard rule.’ But I may still sit them for the end of the game if I feel like it and they know that.”
Matthews is fueled by competition — doesn’t matter if it’s a game of Monopoly or basketball, he wants to win — and the rounds with Hornacek proved to be a test of endurance and patience. Hornacek once set an NBA record by making eight consecutive threes in a game without a miss, and he never lost his shooting stroke. Matthews found it nearly impossible to defeat his mentor. “I beat him twice,” he said, chuckling. “We did it the whole year, every day, and I only beat him twice.”
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Enter Hornacek, then an assistant coach with the Jazz. Hornacek was one of the NBA’s best shooters during his 14-year playing career and he was blunt with Matthews, telling him he wouldn’t stick in the league if he didn’t develop that part of his game. So Hornacek, now the head coach of the Phoenix Suns, made it his personal goal to shape Matthews’ shot. The pair became inseparable and worked to refine Matthews’ stroke through repetition and diligence. Every day, sometimes twice a day, they would work. Off days. Game days. Practice days. Holidays. It didn’t matter. Matthews said a day didn’t go by without the two working on shooting drills.
Phoenix head coach Jeff Hornacek has used the three of them together when he’s wanted to push the pace. Offensively, that’s a lot to handle. The strategy has obvious defensive drawbacks, though, especially when the opponent has a post-up threat on the wing. Finding the proper balance has been tricky. “They’re all used to having the ball in their hands quite a bit, and they’re still trying to figure it out,” Hornacek said. “And so are we [the coaching staff]. It’s not just those three guys — we have Gerald Green at the guard position also. And everyone goes, ‘Ehh, we can just slide him over to the 3 spot,’ but then we have P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris.”
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If the proposed reform had been in place last season, the Phoenix Suns (49 wins) would have had a 47 percent chance at a top three pick — almost the same odds as the Jazz actually had. “This is something that will come up again in the near future,” Phoenix coach and former Jazz star Jeff Hornacek said. “There are some concerns about this, both ways. I’m not completely sure what the answer is, but I think there needs to be a common ground.” Here is why the Jazz — among the smallest of small teams — voted against lottery reform: Around the league, the proposal was seen as one more way for the big market teams to gain an advantage over those in smaller markets.
How is your relationship with Jeff Hornacek? Goran Dragic: Very special relationship. We spend a lot of time together. A couple of times he came to our house for lunch. One day he even babysat my son Mateo, which is a bit unusual [laughs]. I was really surprised about that one. We developed a relationship based on friendship. We hang out a lot. When it’s time for practice, of course we’re professional about our roles as player and coach. But after practice we were friends.