Pacific Notes: Kokoskov, Suns, Ball, Buss

Igor Kokoskov is set to become the Suns‘ next head coach and it is just the latest chapter in his legacy which has been defined by breaking barriers,  NBA.com’s Cody Cunningham writes.

A car accident ended Kokoskov’s playing career, but it allowed him to move into a coaching role. Soon after, he became the youngest coach in Yugoslavian basketball history. Not long after that, Kokoskov became the first non-American assistant coach to win an NBA championship as part of the 2004 Pistons.

Since then, Kokoskov enjoyed a successful run under his mentor Alvin Gentry — the former Suns coach and current Pelicans coach — during his first stint in Phoenix. Kokoskov went on to enjoy international coaching success, most prominently leading Slovenia to a first-place finish at FIBA EuroBasket 2017. He will be the first non-American head coach in NBA history and it’s something Gentry feels he’s ready for.

“He’s had some great head coaching experience internationally,” Gentry told 98.7 FM’s Arizona Sports Station. “I think he’s very much ready to be a head coach. I think he understands the game, (he’s) got great personal relationships with the players … he’s got great temperament. I think he would be a great choice.”

Check out more Pacific Division notes below:

  • While the hiring of Kokoskov has led to speculation that the Suns are eyeing Slovenian prospect Luka Doncic with their lottery pick, GM Ryan McDonough dismissed the idea that Phoenix is locked in on Doncic. “It’s an easy assumption to make, but we’re going to draft whoever we think the best player is,” McDonough said, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. “If we do get the No. 1 pick, Doncic will certainly be in that mix. But [Deandre] Ayton and a few other guys will, as well.”
  • LaVar Ball, the father of Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, is back in the United States after younger sons LiAngelo and LaMelo wrapped up their first professional season in Lithuania. The elder Ball has been quiet since returning but if history is any indicator, it’s only a matter of time before he’s making headlines again, Martin Rogers of USA TODAY Sports writes.
  • The Lakers‘ season ended early once again this season and now the team prepares for free agency and the draft. Assistant general manager, Jesse Buss, the youngest of all the Buss siblings, will be an important factor in the team’s draft plans, as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report writes.
  • As we noted yesterday, there are indications that the Clippers and Doc Rivers have agreed to an extension to keep him in his role as the team’s head coach.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

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