FRIDAY, 7:54am: Wright doesn’t appear to be Phoenix’s top choice, and many sense that Watson remains very much in the running, writes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Coro points to “insiders” who believe Wright will stay at Villanova and that it would take a heavy financial offer to pry him from the school. Watson meanwhile says he and McDonough have frequent conversations and good conversations in which they don’t always agree but share common goals.
THURSDAY, 11:02am: Villanova University coach Jay Wright is the top choice of the Suns for their head coaching job, league sources tell Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News (Twitter link). The 54-year-old Wright is fresh off leading Villanova to the national title.
GM Ryan McDonough said shortly after the team fired former coach Jeff Hornacek that Earl Watson, who’s been in charge on an interim basis, would be a candidate for the job, and Watson has the support of at least some of the players. Phoenix is just 6-23 since Watson took over, though injuries limited Brandon Knight to 10 games and Eric Bledsoe to none during that stretch. The Suns have also reportedly been poised to target former coach Mike D’Antoni, the lead assistant for the Sixers.
Two NBA GMs recently told Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com they could envision Wright as an NBA coach, though he’s never held a job in the league. He’s instead coached exclusively at the college level, sending eight players, including Kyle Lowry, to the NBA. His first head coaching gig came at Hofstra, which he twice led to the NCAA Tournament during a tenure that ran from 1994-2001. He’s been at Villanova ever since, leading the Wildcats to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances in 14 seasons.
McDonough, the former Celtics assistant GM, has a history of mining the college ranks for coaching. He was the first to go after Brad Stevens, Goodman tweets.