The Suns are planning on casting a wide net this offseason in the search for their next head coach, Marc Stein of ESPN.com relays. Interim coach Earl Watson will be among the candidates in the running, Stein notes, with Phoenix also considering Sixers assistant and former Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni, former Sun and current coach at Grand Canyon University Dan Majerle and Warriors assistant Luke Walton.
Villanova coach Jay Wright is also reportedly in the mix, though there have been conflicting reports about the Suns’ level of interest in the 2016 NCAA National Championship winner. For his part, Wright indicated that he wished to remain with the Wildcats, but did leave himself some wiggle room should he have a change of heart, saying “I can say right now that, in my mind, I plan to stay at Villanova. But I also don’t want to be a liar. I want to stay. I know I want to stay, but I just say I hope I can stay because I’ve learned from the past how crazy things can be. I hope I can stay at Villanova because this is where I want to be.”
GM Ryan McDonough had said that Watson would be a candidate for the job shortly after he replaced former coach Jeff Hornacek, and Watson has the support of at least some of the players. Phoenix is just 7-23 since Watson took over, though injuries have limited Brandon Knight to 10 games and Eric Bledsoe to none during that stretch. While the team hasn’t climbed in the standings under Watson, he has improved the Suns’ defense as a unit, with Phoenix notching a defensive rating that is good for 12th best in the league over its past 10 contests. Before Watson arrived, the Suns were a lowly 29th in that category.
Walton is one of the hottest names around the league when potential coaching candidates are discussed. The 36-year-old guided the Warriors to a record of 39-4 in the absence of coach Steve Kerr, who was recovering from offseason surgery and was unable to meet the physical demands of the position during the first half of the campaign. But according to Stein’s sources, Walton departing the Warriors for the Suns is an extreme long shot at the moment.
Team owner Robert Sarver was reportedly interested in hiring former MVP Steve Nash to coach the team back in February, but Nash remains uninterested in going into coaching on a full-time basis, Stein notes. Nash currently wants to focus on fatherhood, 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 GM of Team Canada, Stein writes. Sarver has said that McDonough will definitely continue as the team’s GM next season, but there is some speculation that the franchise may look to install Nash in a front office position in the future, Stein adds.