Kevin Young

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.

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.

Kevin Young To Remain With Suns; Will Be Highest-Paid Assistant

Associate head coach Kevin Young plans to remain with the Suns under new head coach Frank Vogel, and he will be getting a new contract that will make him the highest-paid assistant in the league, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Young will earn more than $2MM per year in the role, according to Wojnarowski, who notes that Phoenix was determined to keep the veteran assistant rather than having him join Monty Williams in Detroit.

Young had been a finalist for the head coaching job along with Vogel and Doc Rivers, with the position ultimately going to Vogel.

Young also interviewed for the vacancies in Houston, Toronto and Milwaukee this spring. The Raptors’ coaching search is still ongoing, but it seems Young is no longer a candidate.

The 41-year-old has been with Phoenix since 2020 as an assistant under Williams, who was fired after a second consecutive second-round playoff ouster. Young was also an assistant with Philadelphia from 2016-20.

Suns Down To Three Head Coaching Finalists

The Suns have narrowed their head coaching search to three finalists, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7, who reports that Doc Rivers, Frank Vogel, and Kevin Young are still in contention.

Reporting a week ago indicated that Phoenix was advancing to the final stage of its process with five candidates still in play. Since then, one of those candidates – Nick Nurse – has reportedly accepted another job, having agreed to coach the Sixers.

Based on Gambadoro’s reporting, it appears the fifth candidate, Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez, is no longer receiving consideration from the Suns. Fernandez is still believed to be in the running for the Raptors’ head coaching vacancy, but Phoenix will apparently decide between Rivers, Vogel, and Young.

An assistant coach on Monty Williams‘ staff since 2020, Young reportedly has some support within the organization to receive a promotion to replace Williams, including an endorsement from star guard Devin Booker. However, he’s the only one of Phoenix’s three remaining finalists without any previous head coaching experience.

Rivers has won a total of 1,860 regular season games and 111 playoff contests with four NBA franchises since 1999, while Vogel has coached three teams since 2010, compiling 820 regular season victories and 49 more in the postseason.

According to Gambadoro, the Suns could finalize a head coaching hire later this week.

Coaching Rumors: Nurse, Bucks, Lue, Young, Stackhouse

Nick Nurse has been busy interviewing this offseason after being dismissed from the Raptors, and is reportedly a finalist for a couple different coaching vacancies, including Milwaukee’s.

While Nurse has “strong support” within the Bucks, Ian Begley of hears from sources who say that support isn’t unanimous among the “key stakeholders” in the organization.

Nurse, who won a championship with Toronto in 2018/19, is also a finalist in Phoenix and interviewed with Philadelphia. The other two reported finalists for the Bucks are Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin.

Here are a few more coaching rumors from Begley:

  • Begley is the latest to report that Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, who is still under contract, is expected to stay with L.A. and not be made available for any openings this spring. The Suns were among the teams rumored to be interested in Lue, which Begley confirms.
  • Assistant coach Kevin Young is considered a strong candidate for the the Suns‘ coaching vacancy after an impressive interview, per Begley. Marc Stein previously reported that Young had a legitimate chance to be promoted, with an endorsement from star guard Devin Booker. Aside from Nurse and Young, Jordi Fernandez, Frank Vogel and Doc Rivers are considered by some reporters to be finalists for the Suns.
  • According to Begley’s sources, the Pistons did background research on Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse, but Begley doesn’t specify whether or not he actually interviewed. Stackhouse was rumored to be a coaching candidate for the Raptors and was mentioned as possible candidate for Detroit. A longtime former NBA player and assistant coach, Stackhouse has been with Vanderbilt since 2019. Kevin Ollie, Charles Lee and Jarron Collins are reportedly the finalists for the Pistons’ coaching job.

Coaching Rumors: Williams, Pistons, Young, Bucks, Griffin, Mazzulla

After reporting last week that the Pistons had planned to pursue Monty Williams for their head coaching job if they’d won the draft lottery, Marc Stein writes at Substack that Detroit apparently went ahead with that plan even after slipping to No. 5 on lottery night.

League sources tell Stein that the Pistons made Williams a “big-money” offer to become the team’s new head coach. However, it appears that effort was unsuccessful. As we noted on Tuesday in response to a report that Williams might take the 2023/24 season off, he’s still reportedly owed about $21MM from Phoenix, so it’s not as if he needs another job anytime soon for financial reasons.

With Williams apparently not in play, the Pistons continue to decide between Kevin Ollie, Charles Lee, and Jarron Collins, who are reportedly meeting with team owner Tom Gores for a second time. As Stein writes, the “consistent buzz” in coaching circles is that general manager Troy Weaver prefers Ollie for the position.

Here’s more from Stein on the head coaching vacancies around the NBA:

  • While he lacks the head coaching experience that some of the Sunsother finalists possess, assistant coach Kevin Young has a legitimate chance to be promoted to succeed Williams, according to Stein, who hears that Young has received a “strong endorsement” from All-Star guard Devin Booker.
  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is expected to talk to the team’s head coaching finalists, is said to be “intrigued” by Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, Stein writes. Griffin is one of three candidates believed to be in the running for the job.
  • Even before the Celtics won Game 4 of their series vs. Miami on Tuesday, there was push-back against the idea that Joe Mazzulla‘s job as head coach was in real jeopardy, says Stein. While Stein isn’t entirely ruling out the idea that Mazzulla could be replaced this spring, he suggests it would conflict with what we know about president of basketball operations Brad Stevens and how he operates.

Latest On Suns’ Head Coaching Search

There are conflicting accounts on exactly where things stand in the Suns‘ head coaching search.

On Tuesday evening, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN both reported that Phoenix was advancing a handful of candidates to the final stage of the process, but the names the two reporters identified didn’t match up.

Charania and Wojnarowski agreed that Nick Nurse, Doc Rivers, Kevin Young, and Jordi Fernandez are among the Suns’ finalists, but Charania added Frank Vogel to that list, while Woj said there were only four remaining candidates.

In a story published late on Tuesday, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic came down on Charania’s side, citing sources who say that the Suns have five finalists, with Vogel still in the mix.

However, Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report has pushed back on that entire series of reports, tweeting overnight that Phoenix has actually yet to reach the final stage of its interview process. According to Haynes, the team is still expected to meet with Bucks associate head coach Charles Lee and Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson.

[RELATED: 2023 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

It’s odd that the NBA’s top two news-breakers and a plugged-in local beat writer would each separately report that the Suns are entering the final stage of their head coaching search process if the club still has interviews on tap with additional candidates. Perhaps Phoenix could expand its list of finalists to include Lee and/or Atkinson — based on the reports from Charania, Wojnarowski, and Rankin, I wouldn’t consider either of them a frontrunner at this point, but it sounds like they shouldn’t be entirely ruled out either.

The Suns are seeking a replacement for Monty Williams, who was let go after four seasons with the franchise despite compiling a 194-115 regular season record, leading Phoenix to the 2021 NBA Finals, and earning Coach of the Year honors in 2022.

Initial reporting following Williams’ dismissal indicated that Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue may be atop Phoenix’s wish list. Lue’s name hasn’t come up at all in recent days, which likely suggests that the Suns are resigned to the fact that he’ll be staying in Los Angeles.

Nurse, Vogel, Rivers Among Finalists For Suns’ Job

The Suns have narrowed their list of head coaching candidates to five — Nick Nurse, Frank Vogel, Doc Rivers, Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez and Suns assistant Kevin Young, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The five finalists will meet with new owner Mat Ishbia, team president James Jones and other team executives in Michigan this week, according to Charania (Twitter link). Ishbia is a Michigan native and played basketball for Michigan State. His mortgage lending company, United Wholesale Mortgage, is also based in Michigan.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that there are four finalists, omitting Vogel.

Phoenix dismissed Monty Williams after its second-round playoff exit.

Nurse has seemingly positioned himself to get another coaching job quickly after parting ways with the Raptors after the season. He’s also a finalist for the Bucks’ head coaching job and a candidate for the Sixers’ head coaching vacancy.

Vogel, who coached the Lakers to a championship in 2020, interviewed for the Sixers’ job on Tuesday. Vogel was also linked to the Bucks’ job but isn’t among the reported finalists.

Rivers was fired just a week ago by the Sixers but was said to be open to coaching again next season if the right opportunity arose.

Fernandez, who served as Mike Brown‘s top assistant with Sacramento this season, is also a candidate for Nurse’s former job. Young was a candidate for the Bucks’ job, but didn’t make the final cut.

One prominent name not included on the Suns’ list of finalists is former Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported earlier today that Budenholzer wasn’t considered a leading candidate in Phoenix.