Dan Majerle

Dan Majerle Turns Down Meeting With Suns

It appears the Suns can take one name off their list of potential head coaching candidates. According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Grand Canyon head coach – and former Suns star – Dan Majerle has turned down a request from the club to meet about the head coach position.

“(Suns GM) Ryan (McDonough) reached out and asked to meet, but I told him that I was going to stay at Grand Canyon,” Majerle said, per Richard Obert of The Arizona Republic. “I’m not ruling it out in the future. But there are still things I want to do here.”

As Obert notes, Majerle has some history coaching the Suns, having served as an assistant from 2008 to 2013. He left the team on bad terms in ’13 when Lindsey Hunter was named the interim head coach in Phoenix. Majerle blasted the organization on his way out, criticizing the Suns for passing over him and Elston Turner for the job and calling the process a “charade.”

Of course, that situation played out under an old regime in Phoenix, led by then-GM Lance Blanks. According to Obert, Majerle’s messy exit from the team in 2013 has nothing to do with his decision to turn down an opportunity in 2018 — the former Suns All-Star says his relationship with the franchise was repaired by McDonough two years ago.

The Suns were said to be getting an early head start on their head coaching search in March, so Majerle certainly isn’t the only candidate to hear from the club so far. Reports have suggested that Phoenix is likely to reach out to David Fizdale, Jason Kidd, and Jay Wright, among others. Interim coach Jay Triano will also be considered for the permanent job.

Suns Notes: Bledsoe, Chandler, Watson, Okur

Although the Suns have been exploring trade options involving disgruntled point guard Eric Bledsoe, the team will likely have to lower its asking price if it hopes to get anything done, one general manager tells Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. While the Bucks, Nuggets, Knicks, and Clippers have all expressed interest in Bledsoe, according to Amico’s sources, that general manager believes Phoenix’s asking price is unrealistic.

“Right now, it’s borderline preposterous,” the GM tells Amico. “It should come down eventually. It has to.”

Bledsoe and his agent Rich Paul expressed a desire for a trade during the offseason, but the Suns have ramped up their efforts this week, with the Nuggets and Bucks among the most viable potential landing spots, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Trade scenarios are still evolving, and it’s not clear how long it will take for Phoenix to find a satisfactory deal, according to Kyler, who adds that the club appears to be looking into moving Tyson Chandler too, perhaps in the same trade.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN chimes in on Bledsoe as well, tweeting that the Suns’ goal of landing a high-upside young player in any deal has been an impediment, since Bledsoe’s value isn’t exactly at its peak.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • In the wake of the Suns’ horrible start to the season and Earl Watson‘s dismissal, Greg Moore of AZCentral.com wonders why owner Robert Sarver hasn’t made any public comments about the team’s situation.
  • In a separate piece for Basketball Insiders, Kyler wonders whether Watson was essentially set up to fail in Phoenix as the club struggles through a rebuilding process.
  • Shortly after Watson was fired, Dan Majerle became the subject of speculation as a possible target for the Suns, but the team hasn’t contacted the Grand Canyon University coach, writes Richard Obert of AZCentral.com. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic, who tweets that the Suns haven’t contacted anyone, with Jay Triano expected to run the show for the rest of the season.
  • Ken Berger of Bleacher Report takes a deep dive into the Suns’ situation and passes along a few interesting tidbits. Among them: James Jones, who joined the franchise this offseason as an executive, figures to have “significant input” when Phoenix decides on a permanent head coach.
  • Former NBA big man Mehmet Okur, who was one of multiple assistants let go along with Watson, became the second member of the organization to direct a less-than-flattering social media post at the Suns this week. Chris Cole of AZCentral.com has the details, along with a screenshot of Okur’s since-deleted Instagram post.
  • Speaking of assistants, the Suns have called up multiple coaches from their G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, to fill out their NBA coaching staff, per Chris Reichert of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). Northern Arizona head coach Ty Ellis is among the coaches headed to Phoenix.

Suns Notes: Majerle, D-League, Goodwin

Dan Majerle said the Suns haven’t contacted him about their head coaching job, in spite of a report indicating that he’s among those the team is considering, according to Richard Obert of the Arizona Republic. Majerle, who coaches upstart Grand Canyon University, added that the Sixers haven’t spoken with him either, short-circuiting any speculation connecting him to Jerry and Bryan Colangelo, Sixers executives with whom he’s close, Obert writes. Majerle’s remarks came before he attended Monday’s Suns game to hand out an award for the organization (Twitter link).

While we wait to hear whether the Suns will ultimately reach out to their former player and assistant coach, see more from Phoenix:

  • The Suns bought out the local ownership of the Bakersfield Jam, their D-League affiliate, and are moving the team to Prescott Valley, Arizona, for next season, the D-League and the Suns announced. The D-League club will henceforth be known as the Northern Arizona Suns. An option in Phoenix’s operating agreement with Bakersfield ownership allowed the NBA team to make the purchase, and Phoenix team president Jason Rowley said the organization considered moving the affiliate to locations around Phoenix and Tucson before settling on Prescott Valley, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic details. It’s unclear how much money changed hands in the deal, but Adam Johnson of D-League Digest hears the former Bakersfield owners will seek to partner with another NBA team looking for an affiliate (Twitter link).
  • Archie Goodwin has seen more minutes and an increased role in the offense the past two games for the Suns, and he’s hopeful that it’s a harbinger of what’s to come, as Coro details in a separate piece. Goodwin, the 29th pick in 2013, is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer heading into the final year on his contract, but he’s made just 15 career NBA starts. “I’ve always been confident in knowing that I work hard to where I can be a starter in this league,” Goodwin said. “I just have to remain patient, work hard and it’s going to happen for me eventually. Hopefully, it’s here. I just hope that the opportunity that I use won’t be wasted and I can go and continue to prove myself.”

Latest On Suns Coaching Search

The Suns are planning on casting a wide net this offseason in the search for their next head coach, Marc Stein of ESPN.com relays. Interim coach Earl Watson will be among the candidates in the running, Stein notes, with Phoenix also considering Sixers assistant and former Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni, former Sun and current coach at Grand Canyon University Dan Majerle and Warriors assistant Luke Walton.

Villanova coach Jay Wright is also reportedly in the mix, though there have been conflicting reports about the Suns’ level of interest in the 2016 NCAA National Championship winner. For his part, Wright indicated that he wished to remain with the Wildcats, but did leave himself some wiggle room should he have a change of heart, saying “I can say right now that, in my mind, I plan to stay at Villanova. But I also don’t want to be a liar. I want to stay. I know I want to stay, but I just say I hope I can stay because I’ve learned from the past how crazy things can be. I hope I can stay at Villanova because this is where I want to be.

GM Ryan McDonough had said that Watson would be a candidate for the job shortly after he replaced former coach Jeff Hornacek, and Watson has the support of at least some of the players. Phoenix is just 7-23 since Watson took over, though injuries have limited Brandon Knight to 10 games and Eric Bledsoe to none during that stretch. While the team hasn’t climbed in the standings under Watson, he has improved the Suns’ defense as a unit, with Phoenix notching a defensive rating that is good for 12th best in the league over its past 10 contests. Before Watson arrived, the Suns were a lowly 29th in that category.

Walton is one of the hottest names around the league when potential coaching candidates are discussed. The 36-year-old guided the Warriors to a record of 39-4 in the absence of coach Steve Kerr, who was recovering from offseason surgery and was unable to meet the physical demands of the position during the first half of the campaign. But according to Stein’s sources, Walton departing the Warriors for the Suns is an extreme long shot at the moment.

Team owner Robert Sarver was reportedly interested in hiring former MVP Steve Nash to coach the team back in February, but Nash remains uninterested in going into coaching on a full-time basis, Stein notes. Nash currently wants to focus on fatherhood, his various off-court interests, the part-time consulting role with the Warriors that he took on at the start of this season and his duties as GM of Team Canada, Stein writes. Sarver has said that McDonough will definitely continue as the team’s GM next season, but there is some speculation that the franchise may look to install Nash in a front office position in the future, Stein adds.

Pacific Notes: Bogdanovic, Looney, Majerle

With the continued struggles of the Lakers, there is a danger that the losing may have a negative long-term impact on the team’s younger players, something the coaching staff will try to stave off, Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. “I think the challenge for our young guys is to stay the course,” said coach Byron Scott. “Continue to think positive. Continue to work their butts off and good things will happen. But if we can’t figure it out from a mental standpoint at times too, then we’re going to continue to struggle. And I think we’ve all talked about the lack of experience being a factor, and sometimes the game is a little too fast for some of our guys; and they’ve just got to step that part up, and it’s going to take time.”

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The cap hold for Suns 2014 first-rounder Bogdan Bogdanovic will impact the team’s salary cap in July, notes Bobby Marks of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports in his trade deadline primer for the team. Phoenix can clear the hold, worth $963K by officially notifying the league that it doesn’t intend to sign Bogdanovic, but if the Suns did so, he would be ineligible to ink a deal with the team during the 2016/17 season, Marks notes.
  • Former Suns player Dan Majerle, who was an assistant coach with the franchise during Alvin Gentry‘s tenure, doesn’t expect to be under consideration for the team’s vacant coaching position, Richard Obert of The Arizona Republic relays. Majerle, who is the head coach at Grand Canyon University, when asked if he had a shot at the Suns’ post, said, “We’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it. I doubt that we will. But if it happens, I’ll have to sit down and think about what’s best for me. I’m extremely happy being at GCU. I’ve got no reservations or no thoughts about leaving here.
  • The Warriors have recalled Kevon Looney from their D-League affiliate, the team announced in a press release. Looney has appeared in seven games with Santa Cruz this season, notching averages of 9.4 points and 8.3 rebounds in 18.9 minutes per contest.

Pacific Notes: Suns, Majerle, Clippers, Del Negro

With the two Los Angeles teams bounced from the first round of the playoffs, the Pacific has one lone representative left in the Warriors.  While Golden State figures out how to handle the Spurs, let's take a look at the rest of the division..

  • Suns team president Lon Babby now has to hire a GM and a coach for his club after parting ways with GM Lance Blanks.    It remains to be seen what they'll do in the front office but according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, former Sun "Thunder" Dan Majerle is interested in the coaching job as well as ex-Suns assistant Elston Turner, who is interviewing for the Bobcats opening.
  • The Clippers may take more time in deciding Vinny Del Negro's future, but will "explore all options," a source tells Ken Berger of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
  • Chris Paul's uncertain future is leaving things murky for the Clippers franchise, writes Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News.  As he approaches his 28th birthday, Paul has more to think about than ever in the wake of his club's first round ouster from the playoffs.

Suns Notes: Majerle, Turner, O’Neal, Hunter

It seems as if there has been some unease in the Suns' coaching ranks since Alvin Gentry and the club parted ways last week, with three assistant coaches having been worthy candidates for the interim job. Here's the latest on that situation, along with other notes out of Phoenix:

  • Although assistant coach Dan Majerle has left the Suns, GM Lance Blanks doesn't think that relationship is in disrepair, telling Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic that he had "positive" discussions with Majerle. "Dan told [Lindsey Hunter] and me that he wanted to move on," Blanks said. "Change is hard for people, and I understand that."
  • According to Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game (via Sulia), Majerle, rather than Hunter, likely would have been the players' choice for interim coach had they been given a vote. Elston Turner, who also hoped to land the interim job, has been counseled to remain on the team's staff in hopes that "being a good soldier in this situation" will result in a chance at a head coaching job in the future.
  • While Blanks and Jermaine O'Neal both downplayed reports of an altercation between the two, Bucher says (via Sulia) O'Neal is upset that the Suns plan to diminish his role. Bucher wonders if the Suns may eventually trade or release O'Neal, speculating that the Celtics, Heat, and Sixers would have interest.
  • Hunter appeared on KTAR in Phoenix, admitting that he was surprised to be named the team's interim head coach. Chris Fedor of Sports Radio Interviews has the quotes.

Suns Name Lindsey Hunter Interim Coach

6:29pm: NBC/Comcast analyst Ric Bucher tweets that it is now a tough situation in Phoenix for Elston Turner, who he considers to have Tom Thibodeau-esque potential. After the Suns didn't allow him to follow Rick Adelman to Minnesota in 2011, Turner was passed over for the Blazers' job this summer and now has lost out to Hunter in Phoenix.  Bucher speculates that based on the "dynamic" in Phoenix, it is hard to envision Turner or Majerle staying beyond their current contract obligations should Hunter remain at the helm. 

12:55pm: Majerle isn't the only assistant coach on his way out of town, as player development coach Sean Rooks is leaving for a job overseas, Coro notes, adding that Rooks' move is unrelated to the other changes in Phoenix. Also, Elston Turner was absent from practice today, according to Coro (Twitter links).

11:08am: Majerle will likely leave the team after getting passed over for the interim job, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. A source indicates the same to Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).

10:11am: The Suns have named assistant coach Lindsey Hunter as interim head coach, the team announced on its website. Hunter replaces Alvin Gentry, who parted ways with the team on Friday. The team went with Hunter over fellow Phoenix assistants Elston Turner, Igor Kokoskov and Dan Majerle.

Hunter was a front-office favorite, though owner Robert Sarver reportedly has an affinity for Turner. Suns players made a push for Majerle yesterday as the team was considering its internal candidates. Hunter was part of the final three in the running for the Magic head coaching job over the summer. His formal title with the Suns had been player development coordinator, a position he took over this season after joining the team's scouting department last year. He spent 17 years in the league as a player, retiring in 2010 to a player development role with the Bulls. 

The Suns, in last place in the Western Conference with a 13-28 record, next play Wednesday against the Kings. The team wants to place greater focus on bringing along its young talent, so given Hunter's previous responsibilities with the club, the hiring makes sense. Phoenix brass reportedly felt Gentry wasn't the right man for its new emphasis on youth.

Suns, Alvin Gentry Part Ways

6:22pm: Mike Monroe of San Antonio Express-News (via Twitter) cites a plugged-in source who says that Hunter will be the team's interim coach. Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic tweeted that that some of the Suns players spoke to the front office earlier today and lobbied for Dan Majerle to get the position, adding that their request has also been under consideration.  

SATURDAY, 2:18pm: The Suns are conducting interviews today, but have yet to name an interim coach, tweets Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. They have a little time to deliberate, since their next game is Wednesday against the Kings, and they don't practice until tomorrow, as Coro notes. In addition to Hunter and Turner, fellow Suns assistant coach Igor Kokoskov is a candidate as well, according to Coro (Twitter link).

FRIDAY, 12:08pm: Alvin Gentry and the Suns have agreed to part ways, reports John Gambadoro of Sports 620 KTAR in Phoenix (via Twitter). According to Gambadoro, Gentry met with owner Robert Sarver and president Lon Babby this morning. The Suns' brass would like to focus on player development and the team's younger players, and didn't think Gentry was the ideal choice for that approach (Twitter links).

The top candidates to replace Gentry as the Suns' interim coach are assistants Lindsey Hunter and Elston Turner, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). Wojnarowski notes that Hunter was installed by the team's front office, and is viewed as a potential future head coach, meaning the club may have preferred to give him a clean slate to take over in the offseason. Turner, meanwhile, is a favorite of Sarver's (Twitter links).

Given the Suns' place in the standings, the decision to part ways with Gentry isn't a huge surprise — Phoenix's 13-28 mark puts them last in the Western Conference. Still, it was just last month that Sarver asserted Gentry's job was safe. Ian Thomsen of SI.com also argued earlier this week that the coach wasn't the problem in Phoenix, though even Thomsen acknowledged that Gentry was likely the next coach on the hot seat.

In three full seasons and two half seasons with the Suns, Gentry compiled a 158-144 record, including a 54-win season in 2009/10.