On Tuesday, the Suns removed the interim tag from Earl Watson‘s title and formally named him head coach. “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,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough said during the team’s official press conference. “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.”
The news of Watson’s hiring came as no shock, seeing as people in the Suns organization and around the league considered him the front-runner for the job as the team prepared to begin its search in earnest last week, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. The Suns were reportedly poised to pursue Mike D’Antoni even before they fired Jeff Hornacek, but a reunion with D’Antoni, who won Coach of the Year honors with the Suns in 2005, never came to pass. The team eyed Steve Nash, but the former MVP wasn’t interested. Conflicting reports emerged about Phoenix’s interest in Villanova coach Jay Wright, while the team was also apparently fond of Dan Majerle and Luke Walton.
Watson has a reputation for having a strong influence on free agents, and that helped build his case for the job, along with his work to rehabilitate the trade value of Markieff Morris, Phoenix’s defensive improvements down the stretch and perhaps his ties to the Klutch Sports Group, the agency that also represents Eric Bledsoe, according to Coro. Soon-to-be free agent power forward Mirza Teletovic cited Watson as he spoke about why he wants to re-sign with the team. The Suns only went 9-24 under Watson, though Bledsoe was already out for the season by the time of the coaching change, and Brandon Knight missed most of the games that Watson coached.
This brings me to the topic for today: Did the Suns make the right call by naming Earl Watson head coach?
Are you a fan of the hire? Then take to the comments section to tell us why. Think Phoenix could have done better? Tell us why you believe so and whom the team should have hired instead. We look forward to what you have to say on the matter.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.