Frank Vogel

Pacific Notes: Booker, Vogel, Ishbia, Murray, James

Devin Booker says head coach Frank Vogel and the team’s leaders share the responsibility of turning the Suns’ fortunes around, Erin Walsh of Bleacher Report relays.

“We just have to get it together,” Booker said. “And that’s on me. That’s on Coach. That’s on KD, Eric (Gordon), all the leaders that we have in here to make sure that we’re more prepared when we come play.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported this week that Kevin Durant has grown increasingly frustrated with the team’s mediocre play.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns owner Mat Ishbia has been very proactive in making moves since acquiring the franchise toward the end of last season. However, Vogel said Ishbia has offered words of encouragement through the team’s struggles, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. “He’s been incredibly supportive,” Vogel said. “Talks through every game with me. Has a great knowledge of the game of basketball. We have a ton of discussions about the teams that we’re playing, the thing we’re doing on the floor and what the results look like. Those conversations have been very productive and supportive.”
  • Hawks guard Dejounte Murray is worth keeping an eye on as a potential trade target for the Lakers, The Athletic’s Shams Charania said on FanDuel TV’s Run It Back show (video link). Charania notes that “the Hawks’ direction, of course, it’s in flux.” Murray’s four-year, $111MM+ contract extension kicks in next season but Charania notes that contract is favorable compared to that of Zach LaVine, another player who’s been linked to the Lakers. Austin Reaves would be a target for rival GMs, but the Lakers have shown no inclination of moving their talented young guard, Charania adds.
  • LeBron James now holds the NBA scoring record. So what other major milestones could he shoot for? Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated writes that James could reach the 40,000-point mark. With three more healthy seasons, the Lakers superstar could also overtake Robert Parish for the all-time record in games played (1,611).

Pacific Notes: Green, Durant, Allen, Booker, Beal, Lakers, Westbrook, Huerter

Draymond Green won’t play in the Warriors’ opener on Tuesday, according to Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Green was sidelined prior to training camp by a left lateral ankle sprain. He was cleared for 5-on-5 action on Sunday and participated in Monday’s practice.

“He’s doing really well but we don’t feel like it would be wise to throw him out with so little scrimmage time on the floor,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “We’ll reassess as the days go.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns star forward Kevin Durant will play in Golden State on Tuesday for the first time since he left the franchise and signed with Brooklyn. Durant says he’s looking forward to it. “I’m excited to play in front of those fans,” Durant told Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. “I had some incredible moments there and we built a bond that doesn’t really have to be spoken about, me and the fans in the Bay Area. Feel like they’ve been supporting me way before I came there, actually. Then once I became a part of the Warriors, they just went even harder in support of myself and my teammates.”
  • Durant believes a recent addition to the Suns, wing Grayson Allen, will thrive with so many offensive threats around him, according to Gerald Bourguet of “When he gets the opportunity to play with myself, (Devin Booker) and (Bradley Beal), I think the floor opens up even more for him, and we could play off him a little bit more as well,” Durant said. “He’s just a guy that can fit in. You see how many teams he’s played on and how well he’s played at each stop, so we’re expecting him to have a solid year this year.”
  • Speaking of Booker and Beal, they’re listed as questionable to play on Tuesday. Booker is dealing with left big toe soreness, while Beal has experienced lower back tightness. “We’re hopeful that they both play,” coach Frank Vogel told Rankin.
  • Jarred Vanderbilt and Jalen Hood-Schifino won’t play in the Lakers’ opener, Khobi Price of the Orange County Register tweets. Vanderbilt is dealing with left heel soreness while Hood-Schifino has a right patella contusion. Hood-Schifino will be reevaluated by team doctors on Nov. 3.
  • Russell Westbrook says he’s striving to be a positive force with the Clippers and won’t mind taking criticism if it eases the pressure off of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. “When I’m playing, let me make sure I can make the game as easy as possible,” Westbrook said. “I take all the bullets for anybody. I take all the heat. I don’t really give a (darn) because I know what’s important to my teammates and to me that’s the most important part.”
  • Kings coach Mike Brown has challenged Kevin Huerter to be tougher defensively and he’s accepted the message, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee writes. “I just think it’s early,” Huerter said. “For me, I’m not worried about the offensive side of the court right now. I think, like you guys have heard throughout this preseason, for us as a team and individually, it’s (about) being better on the other side of the court. We know what we’re capable of — really with anybody on the court — offensively. We’ve just got to continue to buy in and play the right way and do the things we’re supposed to on the other side.”

Pacific Notes: McGee, Warriors, Kings, Vanderbilt, Vogel

The Kings beat out the Warriors for free agent center JaVale McGee, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, who suggests both Pacific clubs were in pursuit of the big man after he was waived by Dallas last week.

McGee’s new deal with Sacramento is only for one year and is worth the veteran’s minimum, but it’s fully guaranteed. It’s unclear whether or not Golden State was willing to offer a fully guaranteed contract to the former Warrior. According to Amick, the Kings envision McGee playing a “significant” role in 2023/24 if he shows he’s capable of handling it.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • The Stockton Kings – Sacramento’s G League affiliate – announced in a press release on Thursday that they’ve acquired Skal Labissiere‘s returning rights from the Mexico City Capitanes in a three-team trade that sent DJ Steward‘s rights to the Maine Celtics. Labissiere has agreed to sign an Exhibit 10 contract with the Kings, while Steward has reached an agreement on an Exhibit 10 deal with the Celtics. This trade will ensure both players are in line to receive their Exhibit 10 bonuses.
  • Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt became extension-eligible on Thursday, notes Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Vanderbilt, whose maximum extension would be $75MM over four years, will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024 if he doesn’t sign a new contract before then.
  • In a two-part interview with Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, new Suns head coach Frank Vogel discussed several topics, including the philosophy he’ll bring to his new job and what he’s looking for in Phoenix’s fifth starter alongside Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Deandre Ayton. “We’ll have a lot of guys that have an opportunity to be that fifth guy,” Vogel said. “The versatility of maybe being able to guard multiple positions or maybe it’s an elite shooter. Maybe it’s just another play-maker. I think we have a lot of guys with a lot of different skill sets and we’ll put a lot of different combinations throughout the year.”

Suns Officially Announce Changes To Coaching Staff

The Suns were among the teams to make a coaching change this offseason, replacing Monty Williams with Frank Vogel earlier this month. Vogel and the team have been quickly working to assemble his coaching staff, with Phoenix issuing a press release on Wednesday to make several new hires official.

The only returning assistant coach is Kevin Young, who was a finalist for Phoenix’s head coaching job and ultimately stuck with the Suns after they made him the highest-paid assistant in the league.

The new additions, some of which were previously reported, are as follows:

  • David Fizdale, the former head coach of the Grizzlies and Knicks who was an assistant under Vogel with the Lakers in 2021/22. Fizdale was an associate GM with the Jazz this past season.
  • Quinton Crawford, who was an assistant with the Mavericks this past season and spent three years under Vogel with the Lakers from 2019-22, winning a title in 2020.
  • Miles Simon, a former Arizona star who was an assistant with the Lakers for four seasons prior to becoming the head coach of the South Bay Lakers, the team’s G League affiliate, the past two seasons.
  • Greg St. Jean, another former assistant with the Lakers under Vogel who went to Dallas with Jason Kidd in ’21/22.
  • John Lucas III, a former NBA point guard who was an assistant under Vogel in ’21/22.
  • Dru Anthrop, who had been head video coordinator and a member of the Lakers’ staff since ’19/20.
  • Jon Pastorek, a former Lakers player development coach and advance scout.

The Suns enter ’23/24 with the goal of winning their first championship, having agreed to a trade that will bring Bradley Beal to Phoenix after landing Kevin Durant in February.

Coaching Notes: Jack, Pistons, Delany, Mahlalela, Raptors, Suns

Former NBA point guard Jarrett Jack is joining the Pistons‘ coaching staff under new head coach Monty Williams, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Jack, who played in the NBA from 2005-18, recently transitioned into coaching and spent the last two years in Phoenix as an assistant on Williams’ staff. According to Wojnarowski, the Pistons’ newest assistant has “established himself as a fast-rising future head coaching candidate” since his playing career ended.

Here are a few more coaching-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Pat Delany and Jama Mahlalela will be the top assistants on Darko Rajakovic‘s new staff with the Raptors, reports Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Delany is an experienced assistant who has worked for Charlotte, Orlando, and – most recently – the Wizards. Mahlalela is returning to Toronto after spending eight seasons with the Raptors from 2013-21 (six as an assistant and two as the Raptors 905 head coach). He was an assistant with the Warriors from 2021-23.
  • Michael Grange and and Eric Koreen of The Athletic shared their key takeaways from Rajakovic’s introductory press conference this week, with Grange noting that the Raptors‘ new head coach made a strong impression in his first interview with the team despite it occurring less than 24 hours after Memphis was eliminated from the postseason. Rajakovic’s belief in forming close relationships with players may have helped win him the job, Koreen writes. “I want to be very invested in them as human beings,” Rajakovic said. “… I really want to connect with those guys on a personal level. When they know how much I love them and care about them, I have a strong belief that we’re gonna come together as a group and be ready to take it to another level.”
  • Jon Pastorek is leaving the Lakers to join Frank Vogel‘s Suns coaching staff, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Pastorek worked for the Lakers from 2017-23, serving under both Luke Walton and Darvin Ham in addition to Vogel.

Pacific Notes: Ayton, VanVleet, Paul, Lakers’ Workouts

Deandre Ayton is believed to be a prime trade candidate but new Suns coach Frank Vogel feels he can get more out of the enigmatic center, he told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

“I have history with having great success with the elite rim protectors and with bigs in general. And I feel like I can take a lot of those lessons and use them to help restore Deandre to a place of prominence in this organization and in this league,” Vogel said. “He obviously has an immense amount of talent, and the talent fits the way I have played throughout my career. So I think he can be in an elite, dominant, defensive center in my system.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Fred VanVleet‘s decision to decline his player option could influence how the Suns handle the Chris Paul situation, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. The Suns could have a dynamic backcourt for years to come if they could land VanVleet in a sign-and-trade with the Raptors, but they first have to figure whether they’ll waive, retain, or trade Paul, who has a partially guaranteed contract.
  • Speaking of Paul, Gerald Bourguet of explores 10 hypothetical trades the Suns could make involving their aging future Hall of Famer. Bourguet ultimately concludes it’s more likely that teams would rather wait to see if Paul is waived and then bid for his services.
  • Big man Adama Sanogo of national champion UConn was among the draft prospects who worked out for the Lakers on Tuesday, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin tweets. Taevion Kinsey (Marshall), Taylor Funk (Utah St), Tosan Evbuomwan (Princeton) and Nathan Mensah (San Diego State) were among the other visitors.

Suns Rumors: Harden, Paul, Ayton, Vogel

With Chris Paul‘s future in Phoenix up in the air, the Suns may be in the market for a point guard this summer. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, there have whispers around the NBA in recent weeks about the possibility of the team making a run at one of the top free agents on this year’s market.

“I want you to keep your eye on James Harden,” Shelburne said during an ESPN LA Radio appearance (hat tip to HoopsHype). “I don’t want to report anything, but that was in the wind for the past month or so. Everybody thinks it’s Philly or Houston (for Harden), but I don’t know, there have been discussions in the wind.”

While the latest reporting from Shams Charania of The Athletic indicates that Harden’s decision may come down to the Sixers or Rockets, Shelburne isn’t the only reporter linking the former MVP to Phoenix. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer agrees that the Suns will be “trying to do something big” this offseason, suggesting during an appearance on FanDuel TV (Twitter video link) that Harden and Kyrie Irving may both be on the club’s radar.

As for Paul, O’Connor hears from sources that the Clippers, Lakers, and Spurs would be the teams to monitor as potential destinations for the veteran point guard if he’s waived. Although the Sixers aren’t one of the teams mentioned by O’Connor’s sources, he views Philadelphia as a possible fit for Paul too, and wonders if there’s a scenario where the Suns and 76ers essentially swap point guards.

Of course, it’s worth reiterating that Paul hasn’t been waived yet, and even if he is, he could still return to Phoenix as long as the Suns don’t stretch his remaining guaranteed money across multiple seasons. NBA analyst Isiah Thomas, who is close with Suns owner Mat Ishbia, said this week during a TV appearance not to “close the door” on the possibility of CP3 remaining in Phoenix.

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • In a podcast with ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst (YouTube link), Zach Lowe said he believes the Suns’ hiring of Frank Vogel as head coach increases the odds of Deandre Ayton remaining with the team by “a non-trivial amount.” Lowe adds that he has heard Ishbia is a fan of Ayton. “I think part of the reason why Frank Vogel got the job was because when he came in he had an idea of what to do with Deandre Ayton,” Windhorst said. “It does not mean it’s going to work. They obviously, as an organization, have a complicated relationship there, they did not want to pay him the max. But for the last year, he was in an adversarial relationship with his coach.”
  • For his part, Vogel told reporters this week that he’s looking forward to working with the former No. 1 overall pick, as Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports relays (via Twitter). “There’s still areas that he can grow offensively, but I’m intent on really connecting with him and restoring him to an All-Star level player,” Vogel said of Ayton.
  • Speaking to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, Suns general manager James Jones outlined his vision for what he wants the 2023/24 Suns to look like. “A team that shoots it, off-ball movement,” Jones said. “A team that can rebound well and put pressure on the rim. I know that seems very generic, but those are the areas of the game that if you’re effective in those areas, you give yourself a chance really good chance at winning with just good players. If you can do that with great players like we have… you increase your odds and that’s all you want to do. You want to tilt the odds in your favor.”
  • Vogel has the support of Suns stars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant and has spoken to both of them since being hired by the team, Rankin writes for The Arizona Republic. Vogel said he’s looking forward to seeing what Booker and Durant will bring defensively in addition to their elite play on offense. “I really love how Kevin and Devin compete on the defensive end,” he said. “KD even hit me when we were talking, he said, ‘I can’t wait to guard in your system.’ He wants to get after it on both sides of the ball and feels like that’s something that really gets him going on the other end and I love that.”

Suns Notes: Ayton, Vogel, Young, Paul

Suns center Deandre Ayton enjoyed yet another promising regular season run in 2022/23, followed by a second consecutive disappointing playoff performance. Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic unpacks three reasons Phoenix should retain Ayton for 2023/24, along with three reasons to trade him.

Ayton signed a four-year, $133M offer sheet from the Pacers last summer, which the Suns promptly matched. Rankin believes that Ayton’s scoring versatility and his solid work as a screen-setter make him a good fit alongside stars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, adding that working with a new head coach could be good for him.

The 6’11” big man averaged 18.0 PPG and 10.0 RPG across 67 contests with the Suns during the regular season, but took a step back as a scorer and defender in the playoffs. He averaged 13.4 PPG and 9.7 RPG overall in Phoenix’s 10 postseason contests this year.

There’s more out of Phoenix:

  • New Suns head coach Frank Vogel made an instant impression on new majority owner Mat Ishbia, per Doug Haller of The Athletic. “Right away, he puts you at ease,” Ishbia told Haller. Haller details how Vogel, who won a title with the Lakers in 2020, got the gig, and how he’ll help the team take the next steps in its championship chase. Haller reveals that Ishbia and team president James Jones kept Booker and Durant looped into their coaching search as they narrowed down their candidates. “Sometimes you need an injection of something, a different message, a different focus, a different perspective,’’ Jones told Haller. “You just need a different message and someone to carry the message differently. That’s sports.” Haller notes that Vogel’s previous experiences winning it all, managing star players, and being able to adjust his defensive schemes to accommodate different rosters particularly stood out.
  • Jones viewed the retention of assistant coach Kevin Young, a finalist for the head coaching position, as imperative to the team. Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports unpacks Jones’ comments and more from the introductory press conference of Vogel. “Throughout the entire process, we’ve had frank discussions with Kevin around his desire to be in Phoenix,” Jones said. “He wanted to be here, we wanted him to be here, because he’s a great coach and he wants to win. So given the opportunity to stay here and continue to build with us, it was an easy decision for him, and it was an easy decision for us.”
  • As the Suns continue to consider whether they will waive veteran starting point guard Chris Paul, stretch and waive him, or trade him, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports weighs the various positives and negatives surrounding each potential decision.

Suns Hire Frank Vogel As Head Coach

June 6: Vogel is officially head coach of the Suns, the team announced in a press release.

We are thrilled to welcome Frank Vogel to the Phoenix Suns as our new head coach,” said owner Mat Ishbia. “This is an important day for our organization as we continue to build a championship culture on and off the floor.

“Frank is an accomplished coach who understands how to win an NBA championship, which is our priority. Frank brings incredible character and work ethic, making him the ideal leader to continue to build one of the best organizations in all of sports.”

June 2: The Suns intend to hire Frank Vogel as their new head coach, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Vogel will replace Monty Williams, who was dismissed this spring after four years on the job.

Vogel and the Suns are currently working on finalizing a long-term deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Charania says it’s expected to be worth $31MM over five years (Twitter link).

This will be Vogel’s fourth NBA head coaching job. He coached the Pacers for five-and-a-half seasons from 2011-16, moved to Orlando from 2016-18, and was the Lakers’ leader for three years from 2019-22.

While his two years with the Magic (54-110) were forgettable, Vogel posted winning records in Indiana (250-181) and Los Angeles (127-98) and led the Lakers to a championship in 2020. Vogel, who took this past season off, was an assistant for the Celtics, Sixers, and Pacers before earning a mid-season promotion in Indiana in 2011.

Vogel was initially reported as one of five finalists for Phoenix’s coaching job, alongside Kevin Young, Doc Rivers, Jordi Fernandez, and Nick Nurse. Nurse accepted a position in Philadelphia, while a subsequent report indicated that Fernandez was no longer in the running, narrowing the Suns’ remaining candidates to Vogel, Young, and Rivers.

Just before word broke that Vogel was Phoenix’s choice, Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link) reported that Rivers had withdrawn from consideration, though it’s unclear whether that’s because he decided he didn’t want the job or because he got the sense the Suns were going in another direction.

Young, who served as Williams’ associate head coach in Phoenix over the last few seasons, was considered a legitimate candidate who had some support within the organization, including an endorsement from star guard Devin Booker.

However, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link), the Suns liked the fact that Vogel has championship experience and a reputation as a defensive guru. Gambadoro adds that there’s a real chance Young could remain with the Suns as the top assistant on Vogel’s staff.

In Phoenix, Vogel will get the opportunity to coach a team led by Booker and Kevin Durant. The rest of the roster is in flux entering this offseason, with Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul viewed as trade candidates and only two other players – Landry Shamet and Cameron Payne – under contract.

[RELATED: 2023 NBA Offseason Preview: Phoenix Suns]

The Suns are the latest team to complete a head coaching search this spring, joining the Rockets, Sixers, Bucks, and Pistons. As our tracker shows, the Raptors are the only team that still has a coaching vacancy.

Coaching Notes: Vogel, Rockets, Nets, Pacers

The Suns didn’t fill their coaching vacancy until after the Sixers hired Nick Nurse, but sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic that Frank Vogel was the first choice in Phoenix all along. Nurse had an interview with the Suns and was among five finalists for the job, along with Vogel, Suns associate head coach Kevin Young, Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez and former Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers.

After dismissing Monty Williams following a second-round playoff ouster, Phoenix was interested in finding someone with championship experience, according to Rankin, which is why Vogel, Nurse and Rivers were all contacted. Vogel benefited from his reputation as a strong defensive coach, as the Suns are determined to improve on that end of the court. The final five candidates met with team owner Mat Ishbia and president of basketball operations and general manager James Jones, Rankin adds.

Vogel became the frontrunner for the job after an impressive interview, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. Reports that Devin Booker pushed for Young to get the head coaching job are “overexaggerated,” Gambadoro adds (Twitter link). Young opted to remain with the team as an assistant coach. Gambadoro also disputes a report that Phoenix offered the job to Nurse (Twitter link).

There’s more coaching news to pass along:

  • Three members of Ime Udoka‘s coaching staff with the Celtics will join him in Houston, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The Rockets are hiring Ben Sullivan, Mike Moser and Garrett Jackson, and Scotto states that they’re considering Boston assistant Aaron Miles, who has also received interest from other teams. Scotto adds that teams have also reached out to Celtics assistant Jarrell Christian, as head coach Joe Mazzulla is expected to rebuild his staff this summer.
  • Ronnie Burrell, who was named G League Coach of the Year with the Long Island Nets, will join Jacque Vaughn’s coaching staff in Brooklyn, Scotto tweets. Burrell has been with the G League team since 2019.
  • Former Pacers player Shayne Whittington has joined Indiana’s coaching staff, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.