ESPN Insider: Suns Must Be Pro-Active, Realistic in Coaching Search

Arizona Sports News online

Recent history has proven there is no simple formula of success for the Phoenix Suns.

The 2015-16 season has been one to forget on Planet Orange. Key injuries to point guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, paired with a trio of long losing streaks, led to an overnight dismissal of third-year head coach Jeff Hornacek earlier this month.

Interim coach Earl Watson was handed the keys to the damaged car but his status beyond mid-April is uncertain. The general sense from people close to the organization is Robert Sarver, Ryan McDonough and the Phoenix front office will look outside for their next head coach but there will be competition with flagship, big market franchises like the Lakers and Knicks also courting their next leader. The Rockets and Timberwolves are also appealing jobs.

One person familiar with the inner-workings of hiring NBA head coaches believes Phoenix must be pro-active in their search.

“If you’re the Suns it almost behooves you to be aggressive in your coaching search now,” Former Suns’ Assistant Director of Basketball Operations, now ESPN Front Office Insider Amin Elhassan told’s Brad Cesmat Wednesday morning. “Because if you’re waiting for [Warriors’ assistant] Luke Walton, guess what: Luke Walton has his pick of the litter. If you’re waiting for Tom Thibodeau, Tom Thibodeau is going to have his pick of the litter. These guys are premium brand name[s] and have no incentive to jump at a Suns’ offer.”

One name which could make sense for Phoenix is David Blatt who was jettisoned by the Cleveland Cavaliers a few weeks ago, just months after leading them to the NBA Finals.

“This is an opportunity for him to come [to Phoenix],” Elhassan explained. “Young team. A bunch of guys who do not have the success or track record to question him like they did in Cleveland. Start fresh. To me being aggressive to get a guy like that is a better than waiting for the off-season and waiting in that line with everybody else.”

Phoenix will enter this weekend’s All-Star break with the second-worst record in the Western Conference behind only the Lakers.






A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.