Former Suns head coach and current Kings assistant Igor Kokoskov has been named the new head coach of the Serbian National Team, according to a press release. The move will put Kokoskov in position to coach Team Serbia next summer as the program attempts to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
Marc Stein of The New York Times, who reported the impending hiring of Kokoskov on Tuesday night, tweets that the Serbian program received permission from the Kings this week to hire the veteran assistant. Kokoskov will succeed Sasha Djordjevic, who resigned in September following the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Entering the World Cup this fall, Serbia was viewed as the most dangerous challenger to the United States, led by star center Nikola Jokic. However, Team Serbia had a disappointing showing, failing to claim a medal or a spot for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. One of the four Olympic qualifying tournaments next June will be held in Belgrade, so Kokoskov will need to lead the program to victory in that tournament to secure an Olympic berth.
A native of Serbia, Kokoskov previously coached the Slovenian National Team, leading that club to a 2017 EuroBasket victory over Serbia. He was also the head coach of the Georgian National Team from 2008-15.
More recently, Kokoskov became the NBA’s first European-born head coach when he was hired by the Suns in 2018/19. However, he lasted just a single season in Phoenix before being replaced by Monty Williams. After interviewing for the Grizzlies’ head coaching vacancy this spring, Kokoskov ultimately landed in Sacramento on Luke Walton‘s staff.