The Phoenix Suns have fired head coach Jeff Hornacek. The news came down late last night after the team returned from a double-digit loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The Suns are 14-35 on the season and have lost 18 of their last 20 games.
As head coach of the Suns, Hornacek had a record of 101 wins and 112 losses. His best season was his first as head coach when he led the Suns to a 48-34 record. Phoenix barely missed the playoffs that season, finishing ninth in the Western Conference.
After that season, Hornacek would see his squad decline. After almost making the playoffs in 2013-14, the front office tried to add some pieces that didn’t quite fit. Isaiah Thomas was signed, which gave the Suns three point guards who all wanted the bulk of the playing time. As a result, Goran Dragic became frustrated with the organization and demanded a trade. After a whirlwind of deals, both Dragic and Thomas were traded away.
Then during this past offseason, in an attempt to land star free agent LaMarcus Aldridge, the Suns traded away Marcus Morris and others to clear cap space. This led to Markieff Morris to express his frustration and say that he didn’t want to be on the team and wanted to be traded. The fact that Morris is still a part of this team and Hornacek is not, is somewhat laughable.
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These were both distractions that the front office created, leaving Hornacek with an almost impossible task of coaching players who didn’t want to be on the team he was attempting to lead. This causes players to not pay much attention to the game plans for each game and thus, Hornacek seemed to have lost the locker room.
In an unorthodox fashion, the Suns fired Hornacek before conducting any interviews for his replacement. There have been a lot of rumors and speculation as to who will be the next head coach of the Suns. There has even been a report that the front office has reached out to former Suns great, Steve Nash.
If Nash is unwilling to take the job, there are other coaches out there who the Suns can interview. A few who come to mind are Tom Thibodeau, Scott Brooks and David Blatt, who was just recently fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers who are leading the Eastern Conference.
But for now, a more likely situation is that the Suns will look in-house for an interim coach. The most likely of that group would be assistant coaches Earl Watson or Corey Gaines. Watson has coached in the D-Leagues and Gaines has head coaching experience in the WNBA when he was with the Phoenix Mercury.
Hornacek’s firing was not all his fault. Yes, it is the coach’s job to get his players ready for every game, but the majority of the blame for the last two disappointing seasons has to be placed on the front office.
They made the wrong moves that cost Hornacek the opportunity to coach a consistent group of players; players who actually want to be in Phoenix. One thing is for sure, the Suns organization will have some major decisions to make.