Jeff Hornacek kept his job as the coach of the Phoenix Suns — for now. There is a certain “dead man walking” quality to his tenure after owner Robert Saver met with players and staff then fired Hornacek’s two top assistant coaches. Add to that the fact Hornacek is in the final year of his contract (Sarver wouldn’t extend his contract). The Suns are 12-20, just lost to the Sixers, and are about to lose more — their next three games are the Cavaliers, Spurs, Thunder, and they fact that without Eric Bledsoe, who out six weeks due to a meniscus injury.
So no matter what the GM says publicly, the smart money is on there being a coaching opening next summer in Phoenix. If not sooner. And Zach Lowe of ESPN reiterated what Howard Beck of Bleacher Report already said — Luke Walton of the Golden State Warriors could be the guy the Suns turn to if/when they make a move. From Lowe on the coaching carousel:
Hornacek is a good coach. If the Suns fire him, he will draw interest in what figures to be a frothy head-coaching market this summer. Brooklyn, Sacramento, Washington, Phoenix, Memphis, Houston, Minnesota, Portland, and the Lakers all could have open jobs, and the pool of candidates will be loaded with big names: Jeff Van Gundy (quietly a candidate for the Washington job), Scott Brooks, Thibodeau, Monty Williams, and potentially Dave Joerger, Mike D’Antoni, Hornacek, Luke Walton, and others. As Howard Beck of Bleacher Report noted Sunday, there have already been rumors of Phoenix chasing Walton if they dump Hornacek.
If a team wants to play small and fast — as I guess the Suns do with their Bledsoe/Brandon Knight backcourt, although those two struggle together (the Suns are -2.6 per 1oo possessions when they are on the court together) and the other pieces do not fit — Walton makes sense as a guy to consider. He’s played under great coaches (Phil Jackson) and been at the epicenter in Golden State. He’s going to get looks after his interim job this season, but he is going to stick with the Warriors the rest of this season.
But the Suns may want to think about if they are getting someone better than Hornacek.
If the Suns’ front office wants to blame someone for the start to this season, they should find a mirror. They put the Bledsoe/Knight combo together even though both want the ball in their hands, they paid they aging Tyson Chandler who has looked old, and it was the front office that ticked off Markeiff Morris by trading his brother. Hornacek hasn’t been able to clean up the front office’s mistakes this season, but is that on him?