NBA Rumor: Phoenix Suns Coach

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“One of the things that stood out was this: Every single player on the roster came to us at the end of the season and said that this is the guy we want as head coach,” McDonough told The Vertical in a telephone interview on Tuesday afternoon. “They said that you’d be making a mistake if you hire a different head coach. That’s not something we expected to hear from [our players] back when we promoted him to interim coach in February, but Earl has shown an ability to connect and motivate our players as well as discipline and hold them accountable.”

Yet sources say Nash, who turns 42 later this week, is reticent to take on bigger roles in basketball than he already has because of the time that would take him away from his family. In addition to his work with the Warriors, Nash serves as the general manager for Canada’s senior men’s national team, after making his international debut for his country as a player while still in college and ultimately leading Canada to within one win of the medal round at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

As the Suns regroup, expect one name to surface: Steve Nash, the two-time MVP and former franchise point guard, who has been operating as a part-time consultant for Golden State this season, parachuting into the Bay Area as needed. Suns owner Robert Sarver’s affection for Nash is well known – the two recently bought controlling interest of a Spanish soccer club – and there is no question the return of Nash would reinvigorate the fan base.

Nash has yet to indicate when, or if, he intends to seek a larger role in the NBA, or what kind of role he would look for. Intelligent and widely respected, Nash’s potential is seemingly limitless. Coaching is an option, although Nash’s balky back could make a front-office position more appealing. Currently Nash is the general manager of the Canadian men’s national basketball team, a job he enjoys, friends say, and a it’s title he has held since 2012. But a write-your-own-ticket offer from Phoenix, where Nash remains hugely popular, could be too appealing to pass up. The Suns have a bright young general manager in Ryan McDonough, whose role was enhanced when Lon Babby, Phoenix’s former president of basketball operations, stepped down last summer, but many believe Sarver will do whatever it takes to lure Nash back.

That end came Monday, when the Suns fired Hornacek hours after a 91-78 loss to Dallas, Phoenix’s fourth straight defeat that capped a brutal 2-12 month of January. Since a startling 48-win season in 2013-14, the Suns have regressed rapidly, falling to 39 wins in 2014-15 and a 14-35 record a little more than halfway through this season. Hornacek, hailed as a brilliant hire after finishing second in the NBA Coach of the Year voting in 2014, has been criticized by scouts for an offensive system deemed far too simplistic. “They don’t run much of anything,” a scout told The Vertical recently. “It’s five guys, spread them out and try to beat you with basic stuff. It’s like watching an AAU game.”

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.

Suns fire two assistant coaches

After owner Robert Sarver and general manager Ryan McDonough met with starting players and coaching staff on Sunday, management has fired two assistant coaches close to head coach Jeff Hornacek, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The Suns fired top assistant, Mike Longabardi, along with Jerry Sichting on Sunday night, and Hornacek’s future is teetering on the brink, league sources said. Hornacek was adamantly against the dismissal of his staff, but appears that he’ll decide to continue on the job, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
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