Suns Rumors

Suns To Interview Jazz Assistant Igor Kokoskov

Another potential head coaching candidate has entered the mix in Phoenix, as John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM reports (via Twitter) that the Suns will interview Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov for the open job.

Kokoskov, a member of Quin Snyder‘s staff in Utah, was recently identified by league executives as one of the top head coaching candidates among NBA assistants, and has been mentioned as a possible dark-horse candidate for the Orlando job. It’s not clear when Kokoskov will get a chance to interview with the Suns, since the Jazz remain alive and well in the postseason — presumably though, Utah has already granted Phoenix permission to meet with the veteran assistant.

Before arriving in Utah, Kokoskov worked as an assistant for several other NBA teams, including the Clippers, Pistons, Suns, Cavaliers, and Magic. While he doesn’t have any NBA head coaching experience, Kokoskov has served as the head coach for the Georgian and Serbian national teams.

The Suns are conducting an extensive head coaching search, so even though Mike Budenholzer reportedly withdrew from consideration on Thursday, there are still several names to watch for the vacancy.

Gambadoro confirms that Spurs assistant James Borrego and former Rockets head coach Kevin McHale are being considered. Ex-NBA head coaches like David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Frank Vogel, and David Blatt are also said to be in the mix, along with interim coach Jay Triano, who will interview for the permanent position.

Latest On Suns' Head Coach Search

Earlier tonight, it was reported that Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer withdrew from consideration for the Suns‘ head coach position. It’s unclear why Budenholzer made the decision, but it shrinks the Suns’ pool of candidates. Per tonight’s report, the Suns continue to consider interim coach Jay Triano, David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Kevin McHale and Frank Vogel.

Before tonight’s news, Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports examined all of the potential candidates and their strengths related to the Phoenix organization. One scout told Bordow that the Suns need a “true teacher” to fill the role.

“The Suns need a true teacher,” the scout said. “A patient coach who understands the environment and history, willing to take lumps and teach the game (through) losses … similar to what occurred recently in Philly. Things will not change overnight but through resolve and commitment, it can happen within a reasonable timeframe.”

There is still the rest of the postseason and the offseason for the Suns to decide on their next coach. After tonight, however, their list of candidates is one name shorter.

Budenholzer Withdraws From Consideration For Suns Coach Job

Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer has withdrawn from consideration for the Suns‘ head coach vacancy, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Budenholzer met with the Suns on Monday and Tuesday and was expected to reach a decision this week.

A native of Holbrook, Arizona, Budenholzer still has two years and $13MM+ left on his deal with the Hawks.

With Budenholzer off the board, the Suns are considering interim coach Jay Triano, David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Kevin McHale and Frank Vogel to fill the position, Wojnarowski adds.

Budenholzer, 48, has been the Hawks’ head coach since 2013, leading the team to a 213-197 record. He won Coach of the Year for the 2014/15 season, a year in which the Hawks went 60-22 and went to the Eastern Conference finals.

The Hawks played to an Eastern Conference-worst 24-58 this season as the organization cut payroll and gathered young assets under general manager Travis Schlenk‘s vision.

Knicks Notes: Coaching Search, O’Quinn, Noah

The Knicks aren’t afraid to take their time as they look for their next coach, according to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Today was Mark Jackson‘s turn to interview with team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry in Los Angeles, one day after Jerry Stackhouse. News broke tonight that TNT analyst Kenny Smith will be interviewed Friday. Sessions are also scheduled for David Fizdale, Mike Woodson and David Blatt, and Isola states that more candidates could emerge.

Fizdale had an interview today with the Suns and seems to have emerged as the most popular coach on the market. He has a connection with James Jones, a former Heat player who now works in the Phoenix front office and is reportedly a strong advocate for Fizdale. The Knicks are attracted to Fizdale because he has experience with a winning organization in Miami and he has a strong connection to LeBron James, whom the Knicks haven’t given up hope of someday acquiring, Isola adds.

There’s more tonight from New York:

  • Jackson’s aversion to analytics may doom his chances with the Knicks, writes Gary Peterson of The San Jose Mercury News. Jackson had a reputation as an old-school coach with the Warriors and was often dismissive of modern techniques. “The [Golden State] analytics staff encountered more resistance than they anticipated,” said Erik Malinowski, author of a book on the building of the Warriors.
  • Backup center Kyle O’Quinn isn’t ready to make a decision on his player option, relays Jordan Lauterbach of Newsday. O’Quinn, who recently changed agents, will earn $4.26MM if he decides to opt in for next season. “I came into the season, I don’t want to say without a role, but knowing that anything can happen,” he said. “Whether it be trade talks or things like that, I think I handled it well by putting myself in a solid position where I could display what I could do.”
  • The Knicks should resist the temptation to stretch Joakim Noah‘s contract over the next five seasons, advises Bobby Marks of ESPN. Marks points to Deron Williams in Brooklyn and Josh Smith in Detroit as instances where teams have regretted compromising their long-term flexibility. Marks also recommends delaying an extension for Kristaps Porzingis to create more cap room for next summer.

Latest On Suns’ Head Coaching Search

We passed along several updates on the Suns‘ search for a new head coach on Tuesday night, relaying reports on the club’s plan to interview former Magic coach Frank Vogel, along with details on an upcoming meeting with former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale. We also noted that Phoenix’s interview with Mike Budenholzer took place on Monday and Tuesday this week, as the current Hawks coach sat down with Suns GM Ryan McDonough and owner Robert Sarver over those two days.

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski writes, the Hawks and Budenholzer are open to ending their partnership, so if the Suns decide he’s their man, there could be a path to making it happen. Still, there are roadblocks that would need to be cleared, as Atlanta would likely require compensation in order to let Budenholzer out of his contract with the team, which still has two years and $13MM left on it.

Here’s more on the Suns’ head coaching search:

  • While the Suns have mostly focused on getting to know Budenholzer so far this week, they’re considering several other candidates, including Steve Clifford and David Blatt, according to Wojnarowski, who says the team has been in contact with both of those former NBA coaches.
  • Confirming the Suns’ contact with Clifford, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes that the ex-Hornets coach is expected to interview with Phoenix. A source tells Bordow that the club hasn’t yet ruled out any candidates, and expects to have “many conversations” with prospective hires.
  • Spurs assistant James Borrego has drawn interest from the Suns as a potential target, per Bordow. It’s not clear whether the team has received permission from San Antonio to meet with Borrego, or if Phoenix’s discussions about the veteran assistant remain internal for now.

David Fizdale Plans To Interview With Knicks, Suns

APRIL 17, 10:52pm: Marc Stein of The New York Times tweets that Fizdale will interview with the Suns tomorrow.

APRIL 14th, 1:00pm: Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic has confirmed that Phoenix plans to interview Fizdale sometime this week.

APRIL 14th, 10:14am: Former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale plans to interview with the Knicks and Suns next week, tweets Mark Medina of the Mercury News.

Fizdale coached the Grizzlies to a 43-39 record during the 2016/17 season but the team was eliminated in the first round of the postseason. He was relieved of his duties after just 19 games this season as Memphis struggled to win and Fizdale’s relationship with Marc Gasol reportedly deteriorated.

However, Fizdale has been a popular name for many teams with head coaching vacancies. As we relayed this week, Heat guard Dwyane Wade — who played in Miami when Fizdale was an assistant coach — advocated for him as a potential target for the Knicks.

The Suns were granted permission to interview Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, and are also set to meet with interim head coach Jay Triano and Fizdale.

Before his tenure with the Grizzlies, Fizdale served as an assistant coach with the Heat, winning two NBA championships in 2012 and 2013.

Suns Plan To Interview Frank Vogel

The Suns plan to interview former Magic head coach Frank Vogel, reports John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

Fired by Orlando last week (link), Vogel compiled a record of 54-110 (.329) during his two seasons with the Magic. The Suns obviously hope that they could recreate the success Vogel had in Indiana, where he posted a record of 250-181 (.580) with five playoff appearances during six years as head coach of the Pacers.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported earlier tonight that Hawks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer met with the Suns today and yesterday with an imminent deal possible, but Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic relays that GM Ryan McDonough was planning on interviewing multiple candidates, so it’ll be an interesting story to keep an eye on.

Mike Budenholzer Interviews With Suns

APRIL 17th, 7:45pm: Wojnarowski is now reporting that Budenholzer met with Suns management and ownership today and yesterday, and a sense is expected to emerge soon whether there is a pathway to Budenholzer becoming the Suns’ next head coach.

APRIL 14th, 9:06am: The Hawks granted Mike Budenholzer permission to interview with the Suns for their head coaching vacancy, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Budenholzer, the Hawks’ current head coach, still has two years and $13MM+ left on his contract.

A native of Holbrook, Arizona, Budenholzer plans to meet with Suns officials early next week.

Budenholzer, 48, has been Atlanta’s head coach since 2013, leading the team to a 213-197 record in that span. He won Coach of the Year for the 2014/15 season, a year in which the Hawks went 60-22 and went to the Eastern Conference finals.

This season, the Hawks entered a rebuilding stage by cutting payroll and gathering young assets under general manager Travis Schlenk. The team went just 24-58, coming in last place in the Eastern Conference.

Budenholzer is among several candidates the Suns plan to interview, Wojnarowski notes. Interim head coach Jay Triano, who took over after the dismissal of Earl Watson, will also be considered. The Suns finished in last place in the Western Conference, going 21-61, the worst record in the league.

2018 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker

After a period of virtually unprecedented stability in the NBA’s head coaching ranks, the coaching carousel started spinning again during the 2017/18 league year. Three teams made in-season coaching changes, installing interim replacements, and three more clubs have dismissed their head coaches since the regular season ended.

In the space below, we’ll provide daily updates on the head coaching searches for each club that has yet to give anyone the permanent title. Some of these searches could extend well into the spring, so be sure to check back each day for the latest updates.

Updated 4-20-18 (3:22pm CT)

Charlotte Hornets

  • Out: Steve Clifford (story)
  • To interview: Jerry Stackhouse (story), Ettore Messina (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: David Fizdale (story)
  • The Hornets also made a change in their front office, hiring Mitch Kupchak as their new president of basketball operations and general manager. Kupchak will lead the search for a new head coach, with fellow UNC alum Stackhouse among the first candidates who will interview for the job.

Memphis Grizzlies

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Out: Jason Kidd (in-season change)
  • Interim coach: Joe Prunty
  • As long as the Bucks remain alive in the playoffs, the team won’t actively move forward with its coaching search. If Prunty can get the club through the first round, he’d become a stronger candidate for the permanent job.

New York Knicks

  • Out: Jeff Hornacek (story)
  • Interviewed: Jerry Stackhouse (April 16), Mark Jackson (April 18), Mike Woodson (April 18)
  • To interview: Kenny Smith (April 20), David Fizdale (story), David Blatt (story), Mike Budenholzer (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: Jay Wright (story), Doc Rivers (story), Craig Robinson (story)
  • Not in running: Jeff Van Gundy (story)
  • The Knicks’ search has focused primarily on former head coaches so far, including Jackson, Fizdale, and Blatt. Those three candidates are considered part of the team’s “top tier” along with Stackhouse. Wright and Rivers are probably long shots, given their current employment situations, while Robinson – a former college coach who is already part of the Knicks’ front office – is considered a “dark horse.”

Orlando Magic

  • Out: Frank Vogel (story)
  • To interview: Jerry Stackhouse (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: Nick Nurse (story)
  • The Magic plan to take their time with their search, so there haven’t been a ton of rumors about their targets so far. They’ve been linked to a couple coaches in the Raptors organization, given president Jeff Weltman‘s connection to Toronto.

Phoenix Suns

Southeast Notes: Budenholzer, Scott, Clifford, Weltman

The Hawks can expect a first-round pick if coach Mike Budenholzer bolts for another team, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Budenholzer, who has two years left on his contract, was granted permission to interview for the Suns job. The Celtics received an unprotected first-round pick in the 2015 draft when the Clippers hired Doc Rivers in 2013, Cunningham notes. The Suns own extra first-round picks in the 2019 and 2021 drafts from previous trades, Cunningham adds.

In other developments around the Southeast Division:

  • Forward Mike Scott has emerged as a key member of the Wizards’ second unit in their playoff series against the top-seeded Raptors, Chase Hughes of NBCSports.com notes. Scott was the only productive bench player Washington had in Game 1, as he scored 14 of its 21 points. A productive series would help Scott land a contract this summer. He signed a one-year, $1.47MM deal with the Wizards last summer.
  • Steve Clifford, who was fired as the Hornets coach last week, believes the team didn’t play with the same attitude it showed in previous years. Clifford made the comments during a press conference posted on the team’s website. “We’ve always had spirit. We didn’t have that this year,” he said. “Some games (we did), but not nearly the togetherness and spirit we’ve had in other years. They know that.”
  • The Magic are in no rush to hire a new coach after firing Frank Vogel following the regular season, John Denton of the team’s website reports. President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman indicated that during a postseason press conference. “It is something that you’d rather do sooner than later so that we can get a guy in place and have our new staff around so that they can get their arms around our players, develop relationships and develop our young guys,’’ Weltman said. “All of that factors in. It would be better sooner, but as I always say … `we’re going to get it right before we get it fast.’ Hopefully, we can do both on this.’’