The Suns will make Mike D’Antoni a candidate for their head coaching job should it come open in the near future, people within the coaching community indicate to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). D’Antoni, who recently returned to the NBA as the lead assistant for the Sixers, took Phoenix to consecutive Western Conference Finals during a successful run as Suns head coach from 2003-08. Phoenix’s recent troubles reportedly put current head coach Jeff Hornacek on the hot seat, though the team decided to fire a pair of assistants instead of Hornacek last week.
D’Antoni recently described himself as “happy as heck” to be back in coaching with the Sixers after a sabbatical that lasted about a year and a half following his resignation from the Lakers in the spring of 2014. The coach of fast-paced offenses didn’t have as much success in L.A. or in his time with the Knicks as he did with Phoenix. He told Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com in 2012 that he regretted leaving the Suns to take the job in New York, a departure that Shelburne heard was a mutual decision between D’Antoni and the Phoenix organization.
Suns ownership and then-GM Steve Kerr wanted D’Antoni to hire a new defensive assistant at the time he left the team, and while Kerr has long since departed, owner Robert Sarver remains. Still, Sarver recognizes a lack of championship DNA in his organization and takes at least partial responsibility for that, telling Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic that, “The blame is to be shared from the top down.”
D’Antoni went 253-136 in the regular season and 26-25 in the playoffs during his time as head coach of the Suns, and he won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award in his first full season in charge of the team. He’s gone a combined 202-290 in regular season games and 0-8 in the postseason at his other head-coaching stops in the NBA, with the Knicks, Lakers and Nuggets.
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