We told you this was coming over the weekend, but Tuesday it became official — Jeff Hornacek is the new head coach of the Phoenix Suns.
He takes over for Lindsey Hunter, who took over for Alvin Gentry, both of whom were let go (Gentry 41 games into the season). This is a hire that should go over well with the fan base — Hornacek was an All-Star Suns player who was very popular in Phoenix, and he still lives in the city in the off-season.
This is a job all about player development — the Suns are not going to be good next season, but they can start to put in a foundation of energy and style of play to build on as they acquire talent. That is Hornacek’s job — more teacher than just coach. But look for the Suns to be an up-tempo team.
This was the first big move for new Suns GM Ryan McDonough (who was hired just weeks ago out of the Celtics organization).
“I knew he was working with Utah, at first working with players on their shooting, and then his role expanded over the past few years, to the point where he is an assistant coach on the bench,” McDonough said in an interview on the Suns official Web site. “He helped with all aspects of their operation, including scouting and drawing up plays. For a guy who has not yet been a head coach in the NBA, he has a very diverse skillset, and a lot of experience that he brings to the Suns, so I am thrilled that he is going to be our next head coach…
“Another thing that we were really looking for, was a big-time development guy, who could make our players better, both those players that we have on our roster now and the players that we’re going to bring in in the future. Jeff got rave reviews with his on-court work with players in Utah.”
Hornacek reportedly got a three-year, $6 million deal with the third year at the team’s option.