The Suns parted ways with coach Jeff Hornacek on Monday and named Earl Watson as interim coach. The move didn’t come as a major surprise, as Hornacek’s job was reportedly under immediate threat back in late December, but the team instead fired assistants Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting and shifted fellow assistants Watson and Nate Bjorkgren to more prominent roles. The future of the 52-year-old Hornacek was up in the air even as the season commenced, with a contractual decision on his team option for 2016/17 looming. Little had gone right since, as the Suns notched a 14-35 record in spite of preseason hopes that they would make the playoffs for the first time since losing the Western Conference Finals in 2010.
In its search for a new head coach the franchise may look to its past to find someone to lead it into the future. The team will reportedly consider former coach Mike D’Antoni for the vacant post, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. D’Antoni, who has 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. Also rumored to be in the mix is Steve Nash, a former star player for the franchise, according to Stein. Chris Mannix of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports noted that Nash should be expected to emerge as a candidate for the position, citing owner Robert Sarver’s fondness for the retired point guard. Sarver and Nash recently bought controlling interest in the Spanish soccer club Real Mallorca, Mannix noted.
This brings me to the topic for today: Should the Suns look to their past and hire either Mike D’Antoni or Steve Nash as their new head coach, or should the franchise look for a new face and voice with its next hire?
D’Antoni has not met with much success since departing Phoenix back in 2008, but his Suns teams were some of the most exciting and entertaining the league has seen. The coach does have a reputation of eschewing defense in favor of a fast-paced offense that is heavily reliant on strong point guard play. With both Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight on the roster, the team could thrive under the coach, though how well D’Antoni’s system is geared for postseason success is certainly up for debate.
As for Nash, he would be an intriguing choice, but he has zero head coaching experience and is reportedly reluctant to become a full-time coach. Hiring former players, specifically point guards, as coaches is a popular trend in the league right now, and while Nash is one of the best to have played the position, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s suited to run a team full-time. Hiring Nash, without him spending some time as an assistant learning the ropes, would seem more like a PR move to me than a solid basketball one at this time.
But that’s merely my opinion and now we’re looking for yours. Take to the comments section to share your thoughts and opinions on a potential reunion between Phoenix and D’Antoni or the possibility of Nash calling out sets from the sideline. We look forward to what you have to say.