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Devin Booker’s importance to the Phoenix Suns franchise continues to grow. General Manager Ryan McDonough said Thursday that Booker will have a voice in all of the organization’s major decisions going forward, including the search for a new coach, free agency and the draft.
After the NCAA Tournament, Williams predicts UCLA coach Steve Alford will leave for Indiana, a job vacated last week when the school fired Tom Crean. Given Alford starred at Indiana during his playing days, helping the Hoosiers win the 1987 national championship, that potential move makes sense. Alford’s replacement at UCLA? “I see Mr. Earl Watson, the head coach of the Phoenix Suns, coming back home to UCLA,” Williams said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Portland assistant Jay Triano will join Earl Watson’s Suns’ staff as associate head coach, league source tells @The Vertical.
The Suns kept the same coach at the top but the staff will have a different look with the team opting not to renew four members’ contracts for next season. Suns assistant coaches Corey Gaines and Bob Hill were informed Wednesday that their expiring contracts will not be renewed. Player development assistant Irving Roland and assistant video coordinator Ross Geiger also will not return to the Suns staff for Earl Watson’s first full season as head coach. All of the staff’s contracts will expire June 30 but the others will be renewed.
Assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren is the only assistant coach who will be retained from last season’s original staff other than Watson. Bjorkgren, a former D-League head coach, and Watson were in their first seasons with the Suns.
Player development assistants Jason Fraser and Chris Darnell and video coordinator Bret Burchard, who took on an expanded bench role, also will return.
There is a school of thought that Sarver and General Manager Ryan McDonough might not want an autonomous, demanding, fist-shaking head coach on the premises challenging their desires. Another claims that no marquee coach wants any part of the top-heavy competitive culture in Phoenix. And for the sake of playing devil’s advocate, allow me to dismantle two popular myths.
Sirius XM NBA: Earl Watson says he’s going to look to add some experienced coaches to his staff. #Suns
“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.”
“It’s certainly important that he connect with all of our players, but we’re trying to build with our young core and we feel like he’s someone who can develop those guys and grow with the team – being able to push them and hold them accountable,” McDonough told The Vertical. “The more we saw of him in the two-and-a-half month evaluation period we had, the more we thought he was the perfect guy for the job.”
After signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal with the Suns, Teletovic, in 79 games this season, made 181 3-pointers, the most-ever by a bench player in NBA history. “Coach Earl (Watson) put a lot of trust in me. He kind of gave me the energy, gave me the boost. He talked to me through the whole period that he’s been here: how we’re supposed to play, how we’re supposed to get better,” he said. “I understood the role that I have on this team.”
The Phoenix Suns have reached an agreement with interim head coach Earl Watson to retain him as the 17th head coach in franchise history.
“Earl did a very good job with our team last season after taking over as interim head coach during a challenging time for the organization,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. “Earl’s natural leadership qualities and his ability to connect with and motivate our players have stood out throughout his time here in Phoenix. We are excited to see what he can do with a healthy roster after having a full offseason to prepare.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Suns agreed to a three-year deal with Watson, league sources tell @The Vertical.
Chris Haynes: Phoenix Suns new coach Earl Watson gets three years guaranteed years, I’m told. He sold organization on vision in two extensive interviews.
Marc J. Spears: New Suns head coach Earl Watson was strongly backed by Suns players in his first interim stint and he was rewarded with a three-year deal.
Internally and in the NBA community, Suns interim head coach Earl Watson is believed to be the leading candidate to coach the Suns next season by many.
“I think he’s done an incredible job,” Suns center Tyson Chandler said. “I try to stay out of the way of management decisions, but he’s done an incredible job with the team he inherited with all the injuries and everything else like that. He’s done an excellent job coming in and helping the young players, as well as helping guys like myself get adapted here. He’s added structure. Everything he has done has been positive. He came in and took over this team in a tough position. I thought he has done an excellent job. Nobody could’ve asked for anything better.”
Some hear Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd, a former Suns player, is a wild-card possibility, but that could require a more creative package, possibly with a stake in the franchise.
Among the five interim jobs, the Knicks (Kurt Rambis), Timberwolves (Sam Mitchell) and Suns (Earl Watson) are expected to give the incumbents strong looks, sources say. Barring something unforeseen, Tony Brown in Brooklyn and J.B. Bickerstaff in Houston will be moving on.
There’s a new sheriff in the City of Brotherly Love, Bryan Colangelo, who obviously did not hire Brett Brown; the departed Sam Hinkie did. And if D’Antoni, the Sixers’ associate head coach, gets offers elsewhere — besides Brooklyn, he could be a fit in Washington or Phoenix — then Colangelo may be tempted to let Brown go and bump D’Antoni up to head coach in order to keep him, sources say.
NBA coaching sources told ESPN.com that Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton, former Suns coach Mike D’Antoni (who currently serves as associate head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers) and former Suns star Dan Majerle (head coach at fledgling Division I program Grand Canyon in the Western Athletic Conference) are among the names likely to feature a broad list of targets.
However, NBA coaching sources say the Suns would be considered an extremely long shot to lure Walton from his post with the Warriors.
Nash, according to sources, is not presently prepared to entertain the thought of a head-coaching position or even an assistant coach’s role at this juncture, preferring to focus on fatherhood (he has three young children), his various off-court interests, the part-time consulting role with the Warriors that he took on at the start of this season and his duties as the general manager of Team Canada.
The Suns are preparing a coaching search, which could include current and former NBA coaches. Many also feel that Suns interim head coach Earl Watson is very much in the running to return at the helm. Watson said he and Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough have talked often since he took over the team on Feb. 1. “We have a good relationship,” Watson said.
Warriors part-time player development consultant Steve Nash said he wouldn’t be closed to the possibility of working for the Suns in the future, but he’s not willing to become the team’s coach for now, calling the notion of the team’s apparent interest in him for its head coaching vacancy “a moot point at this point.” The two-time MVP made his comments on J.J. Redick‘s podcast for The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (audio link, scroll to 7:45 mark).
Already bypassed when the Suns named the ill-equipped Lindsey Hunter to replace Gentry, Majerle told the Arizona Republic, of potential overtures from the Suns, “We’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it. I doubt that we will. But if it happens, I’ll have to sit down and think about what’s best for me.” Majerle’s team, in its third season in Division I, recently had a 12-game winning streak snapped.
The Vertical: The Phoenix Suns hired four-time NBA head coach Bob Hill as an assistant coach, league sources tell The Vertical.
Diamond Leung: Marreese Speights to SiriusXM on tweeting Suns job at Mark Jackson: “Coach needs another chance, man. A lot of things ain’t really go his way. He’s a good coach and whatever teams gets him is going really get a gifted guys who knows the game. It’s kinda unfair… a spiritual guy who’s a good role model f/ a lot of people around the world to get treated like that.”
Chris Haynes: Earl Watson, new interim coach of Phoenix Suns, will hire agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group, league sources inform @clevelanddotcom.
Marc J. Spears: Suns have promoted assistant coach Earl Watson to interim head coach, a source told Yahoo Sports
But Nash, sources say, is not ready to entertain the thought of a head coaching position or even an assistant coach’s role at this juncture, preferring to focus on fatherhood with three young children and his various off-court interests in addition to a part-time consulting role he took on at the start of the season with the Golden State Warriors. It remains to be seen whether the Suns will pursue Nash in front-office capacity instead.
The Phoenix Suns have strong interest in former star guard Steve Nash for their coaching vacancy, but Nash is not interested in going into full-time coaching at this time, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN that Suns owner Robert Sarver, even before firing Jeff Hornacek early Monday morning after the team’s overnight arrival in Phoenix after a four-game road trip, has had Nash high on his list of potential targets to take over the team.
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.
Marc Stein: Full story going online now but Nash, while undeniably close with Suns owner Robert Sarver, not prepared to leave family for head coaching
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.”
Ken Berger: The Suns are interviewing assistants Earl Watson, Corey Gaines and Nate Bjorkgren today for interim coach job, league source says.
Ken Berger: Phoenix plays Toronto at home tomorrow, so decision on Jeff Hornacek’s replacement is likely today, source says.
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.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Suns will conduct interviews with assistants today and likely choose an interim head coach from staff, league source tells @TheVertical.
Marc Stein: Fresh 2016 NBA bench rumble: There is active buzz in coaching circles that Mike D’Antoni will be on Suns’ list if/when that job comes open
The chaos in Phoenix cost former Celtics assistant coach Mike Longabardi his job, along with ex-Celtic Jerry Sichting, another assistant. Ownership spared coach Jeff Hornacek, but look out for former WNBA coach and Suns assistant Corey Gaines, who led the Phoenix Mercury to a WNBA championship. Gaines and former NBA point guard Earl Watson are now Hornacek’s top assistants.
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.
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.
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 that the Suns, despite the organization’s well-known fondness for Hornacek, have been forced to contemplate a coaching change far sooner than they hoped because of a slide that has dropped them to 12-20 and 11th in the Western Conference. There is also a growing fear within the organization that the team is no longer responding to its head coach.
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.
Chris Haynes: Earl Watson’s role with Suns has been minimal up to now. Players wanted him to have larger role. He’s been an integral figure behind scenes.
Howard Beck: FWIW: A few weeks back, a source w/ties to Suns predicted/speculated that PHX would dump Hornacek and chase Luke Walton next summer.
Assistant coach Mike Longabardi is the most likely short-term solution as an interim coach, should the Suns fire Hornacek.
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September 17, 2021 | 5:16 pm EDT Update
The Denver Nuggets have signed forward Petr Cornelie to a two-way contract, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.
The word in Spanish basketball circles, as reiterated to me Friday, is that Marc Gasol is most likely to play for Girona if he decides to play on, even though the LEB Oro is one level below Spain’s top tier. I’m told he has been working out with new Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio to stay sharp even after negotiating his release earlier this week from Memphis following the Grizzlies’ recent trade with the Lakers to take on the final year of Gasol’s last NBA contract.
Ballots for the NBA’s 75th anniversary team were due back to the league office today. The league previously announced that the official list of its 75 greatest players, as selected by “a blue-ribbon panel of media, current and former players, coaches, general managers and team executives,” will be revealed in October. The voters will also be revealed — not their full individual ballots but the names of those who made the selections.
Mark Berman: New #Rockets star Jalen Green throwing out the first pitch before the Astros play Arizona.
September 17, 2021 | 3:51 pm EDT Update
After securing the arrival of Mario Hezonja, Russian team UNICS Kazan will announce soon the signing of former NBA guard OJ Mayo.
UNICS Kazan is adding one more marquee name to its roster with O.J.Mayo having a one-year deal with the Russian club. While there’s no signed contract yet, that seems to be more a formality delayed by bureaucratic reasons.