Report: Suns’ coach Jeff Hornacek’s job in jeopardy after slide

Getty Images
4 Comments

UPDATE 4:31 ET: When the owner and GM are talking to players to see what the problems are, that rarely bodes well for the coach. Welcome to Jeff Hornacek’s world. From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and general manager Ryan McDonough held individual meetings with Suns players on Sunday, trying to gain a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding the team’s spiral, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

We will see where this leads over the next 48 hours. But a coaching change is not going to change the fortunes of this banged-up, mismatched roster in the short term.

3:04 ET: Phoenix Suns’ owner Robert Sarver doesn’t believe in tanking, in being bad to get good, he expects a rebuild on the fly and the Suns to be a playoff team. Which the Suns haven’t been for five seasons, tying a franchise-record drought (dating back to the 1970s when this was a young franchise).

Now with the Suns have lost four in a row, have players throwing towels at their coach, won just 3-of-10, and are sliding out of playoff contention. With all that coach Jeff Hornacek finds himself on the hot seat, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

The Phoenix Suns’ 5-15 nosedive, which included a home loss Saturday night to the Philadelphia 76ers, has put the job of coach Jeff Hornacek under immediate threat, league sources told ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Suns have been forced to contemplate a coaching change far sooner than they hoped to because of a slide that has dropped them to 12-20 and 11th in the Western Conference, with fears growing within the organization that the team is no longer responding to Hornacek.

Players throwing towels at their coach is a sign of a lost locker room, although said player is not exactly the easiest guy to deal with around the league. Rumors about Hornacek’s stability had been circulating since the Suns chose not to pick up his option for the 2016-17 season this summer, making him a lame duck coach in his final guaranteed year.

Any coach who takes over for Hornacek right now will struggle to turn anything around this season. The key reason is the Suns likely will be without leading scorer Eric Bledsoe for an extended period after he suffered a non-contact knee injury Saturday (there is no official report yet of how long he will be out, but reports are it will be a while). Combine that with the fact Tyson Chandler isn’t the player they thought they were getting, Markeiff Morris isn’t playing as well as expected, and the trade rumors swirling around this team. That said, in a down bottom of the Western Conference the Suns remain just a couple games out of the playoffs.

Hornacek surprised everyone by winning 48 games his first season in Phoenix, doing it with a team most expected to be near the bottom of the league (that season 48 wins was not enough to make the playoffs in the West). However, that season may have set expectations too high that this team was farther along the rebuilding path than it was, and the past two seasons have shown that. Since the strong season, the Suns have switched the guard combo to Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, made a big move for Chandler on the back end of his career, and seen other free agent moves not pan out. Rather than a slow rebuild, this has been a push to playoffs not worrying about the ceiling.

Pelican’s Green says Zion ‘dominated the scrimmage pretty much’

0 Comments

The Zion hype train keeps right on rolling. First were the reports he was in the best shape of his life, then he walked into media day and it looked like he is.

Now Zion has his own hype man in Pelicans coach Willie Green, who said he dominated the first day of team scrimmages. Via Andre Lopez of ESPN.

“Z looked amazing,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said on Wednesday afternoon. “His strength, his speed. He dominated the scrimmage pretty much.”

“What stood out was his force more than anything,” Green said. “He got down the floor quickly. When he caught the ball, he made quick decisions. Whether it was scoring, finding a teammate. It was really impressive to see.”

Reach for the salt shaker to take all this with — it’s training camp scrimmages. Maybe Zion is playing that well right now — he’s fully capable, he was almost an All-NBA player in 2020-21 (eighth in forward voting) before his foot injury — but we need to see it against other teams. In games that matter. Then we’ll need to see it over a stretch of time.

If Zion can stay healthy this season, if his conditioning is where everyone says it is, he could be in for a monster season. Combine that with CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and a strong supporting cast in New Orleans, and the Pelicans could surprise a lot of people — and be fun to watch.

 

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Celtics, Suns? Should NBA end one-and-done?

0 Comments

NBA training camps just opened and teams have yet to play a preseason game, but already two contenders are dealing with problems.

The Celtics have the suspension of coach Ime Udoka as a distraction, plus defensive anchor center Robert Williams will miss at least the start of the season following another knee surgery.

The Suns have the distraction of a suspended owner who is selling the team, plus Jae Crowder is out and demanding a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not seem happy.

Corey Robinson of NBC Sports and myself go through all the training camp news, including the wilder ones with the Lakers and Nets, breaking down what to take away from all that — plus how good Zion Williamson and James Harden look physically.

Then the pair discusses the potential of the NBA doing away with the one-and-done role and letting 18-year-olds back in the game — is that good for the NBA?

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Report: Price tag on Phoenix Suns could be more than $3 billion

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six
Harry How/Getty Images
0 Comments

In 2004, Robert Sarver bought the Phoenix Suns for a then-record $401 million.

When Sarver sells the team now — pushed to do so following the backlash prompted by an NBA report that found an 18-year pattern of bigotry, misogyny, and a toxic workplace — he is going to make a massive profit.

The value of the Suns now is at $3 billion or higher, reports Ramona Shelburne and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

There will be no shortage of bidders for the team, with league sources predicting a franchise valuation of more than $3 billion now that revenue has rebounded following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a new television rights deal and CBA on the horizon. Sarver purchased the team for just over $400 million in 2004.

Saver currently owns 35% of the Suns (the largest share), but reports say his role as managing partner allows him to sell the entire team (the minority owners have to comply, although they would make a healthy profit, too). Sarver also decides who to sell the team to, not the NBA or other owners.

Early rumors of buyers have included Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), Bob Iger (former Disney CEO), Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, she has a 20% share of the Washington Wizards), and others. There have been no reports of talks yet, and Sarver does not need to be on a rushed timeline.

Meanwhile, a contending Suns team tries to focus on the season despite the owner selling the team, Jae Crowder not being in training camp and pushing for a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not sound happy to be back with the Suns.

Steve Nash on his relationship with Kevin Durant: ‘We’re good’

0 Comments

In an effort to gain leverage for a trade this offseason, Kevin Durant threw down a “either the coach and GM are gone or I am” ultimatum.

Now coach Steve Nash (and GM Sean Marks) are back in Brooklyn, on the same team and trying to build a contender together. Awkward? Not if you ask Nash, which is what Nick Friedell of ESPN did.

“We’re fine,” Nash said after the Nets’ first official practice of the season on Tuesday. “We’re good. Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.

“We all were hurting, seething, to go through what we went through last year, not being able to overcome all that adversity. Sometimes you lose perspective because you expect to win, but the reality is we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year. And also keep perspective. We went through a ton of stuff.”

First off, what else was Nash going to say? He knows the power dynamic in the NBA, and Durant has far more leverage than he does — not enough to get Nash fired this summer, but still more than the coach.

Second, Nash could be telling the truth from his perspective. NBA players and coaches understand better than anyone this is a business and things are rarely personal. Grudges are not held like fans think they are (most of the time). Nash saw Durant’s move for what it was — an effort to create pressure — and can intellectually shrug it off, reach out to KD and talk about the future.

What this brings into question was one of the Nets’ biggest issues last season — mental toughness and togetherness. Do the Nets have the will to fight through adversity and win as a team? Individually Durant, Kyrie Irving, Nash and others have shown that toughness in the past, but as a team it was not that hard to break the will of the Nets last season. Are their relationships strong enough, is their will strong enough this season?

It feels like we will find out early. If the wheels come off the Nets’ season, it feels like it will happen early and by Christmas things could be a full-on dumpster fire. Or maybe Nash is right and they are stronger than we think.