Suns Fire Head Coach Igor Kokoskov

APRIL 23, 7:32am: The Suns issued a press release late Monday night confirming that they’ve parted ways with Kokoskov and announcing that the search for the club’s next head coach will begin immediately.

“After extensive evaluation, I determined it is best to move in a different direction with our head coaching position,” Jones said in a statement. “I want to thank Igor for his work this past season and wish him the best with his future endeavors.”

APRIL 22, 11:45pm: The Suns have become the latest NBA team to dismiss their head coach this spring, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the club has fired Igor Kokoskov.

Despite a disappointing season in Phoenix, it’s still a somewhat surprising development. After all, it was less than a year ago that the Suns hired Kokoskov, making him the NBA’s first European-born head coach last May after interviewing upwards of 10 candidates. Kokoskov and the club reportedly agreed on a three-year deal at the time.

In his first and only season at the helm in Phoenix, Kokoskov led the Suns to a 19-65 record, which placed the team dead last in the Western Conference and just two games ahead of the NBA-worst Knicks.

A playoff berth in 2018/19 always seemed like a long shot for the franchise, but after signing Trevor Ariza and drafting Deandre Ayton during the 2018 offseason, the Suns had hoped to take some positive steps forward. Instead, the club won fewer than 25 games for the fourth straight year.

The other lottery teams that have fired head coaches so far – the Lakers, Grizzlies, Cavaliers, and Kings – announced their decisions within a couple days of their regular season finales. The Suns delayed their decision, and Wojnarowski tweets that the team had initially planned on bringing Kokoskov back for a second season.

[RELATED: 2019 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Instead, he becomes the latest victim of the organization’s frequent turnover — Phoenix has employed six head coaches – including interim coaches – since the start of the 2012/13 season, and will now be on the lookout for its seventh.

It’s not clear exactly what prompted the Suns’ change of direction on Kokoskov, but it’s worth noting that the team recently finalized some front office changes, giving James Jones the permanent general manager title and adding Jeff Bower in a top management role. Perhaps the new group wanted to make its own coaching hire, as Kokoskov was Ryan McDonough‘s pick.

As for which candidates the Suns may target now that Kokoskov has been let go, Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that the club is interested in Sixers assistant Monty Williams. The Lakers have already met with Williams and plan to conduct a second interview with him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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15 thoughts on “Suns Fire Head Coach Igor Kokoskov

  1. kenleyfornia2

    Its the players and GM. Not the coach. 7 coaches since 12-13 says it all

    • Its been a bit of everything, and it starts at the top. ESPN did an article about the Suns and Robert Sarver (basically about how dysfunctional they are) that was a really good look into the organization. Sarver has no idea how to run the team and his choices at the GM spot have led to turmoil at the head coaching spot which then trickles down to the players. Imo, I think James Jones and Ryan McDonough were forced to keep changing coaches at the behest of Sarver. The organization as a whole needs a change of pace. The Suns need an owner who will give his GM a clear goal and balance the fine line of being patient and knowing when to make a change.

    • Z-A

      Roster construction in general. Dumb decisions and inability to work with players. Bledsoe is a prime example.

  2. Yep it is

    A once proud organization is now just a Circus tent with a clown for an owner. My question is where is the NBA in all of this? Same with the Knicks.

  3. yoyo137

    I wish basketball was like soccer because the Suns would’ve been relegated to a lower division years ago and fans would’ve rioted (which would be long overdue). It’s embarrassing that Devin Booker is about to have his 5th coach in 5 years.

    I get that if you really feel Igor wasn’t the right fit, firing him now is the best so that the next coach has more time to implement their system, oh dang wait I forgot we were talking about the Suns so it doesn’t matter cause they’re going to fire the next coach too. Absolute disaster of an organization.

    • x%sure

      Well said. This is also going to do the NBA no favors in the eyes of European basketball since it looks like he did not get a fair shot.

      • yoyo137

        I think most people can and do separate the Suns from other NBA teams. They do not in any way represent the rest of the league. People even acknowledge that James Dolan is a far better owner than Sarver. It is wack that Igor was the first European born head coach in the NBA and is out after 1 year, but most people will be able to see that it clearly was because of Sarver’s incompetence.

  4. I sort of wish Sarver would somehow be forced to sell the team to a group who’d move them to Seattle. Seattle gets its team back (albeit a poorly performing bunch) and there’s no need to rearrange the league for conference balance.

    Phoenix’s attendance is relatively lacking (probably more due to team performance than anything, to be fair) and the stadium is decrepit. It’s not like the team has such an illustrious history (other than the 7 seconds or less era) that would justify keeping them there.

    Please let me know if that last statement is inaccurate. If so, I apologize in advance.

    • Paulie Walnuts

      Your statement is inaccurate. Even in its down years, Suns attendance has trended better than it ever was in Seattle’s latter years.

      link to espn.com

    • Paulie Walnuts

      Other than the Suns are in a lease until 2037 and sits in the 12th largest media market.

    • x%sure

      Seattle should get a team though. It’s big enough, especially with southeastern Canada added.
      Just sayin’, the Grizzlies started there.

  5. HubcapDiamondStarHalo

    I feel like all the warnings that have been reportedly given to candidates for the Lakers head coaching position will be reiterated to anybody considering “leading” this train wreck…

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