Just a couple of seasons after a surprise 48-win campaign in 2013014 — and in part because the team couldn’t live up to the expectations that came following that season — the Phoenix Suns have fired coach Jeff Hornacek. The Suns are 14-35 on the season.
Multiple reports now confirm this, but Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports was first.
General manager Ryan McDonough informed Hornacek of the decision upon the Suns’ return to Phoenix after a 91-78 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night. The loss was the franchise’s 14th straight on the road with a roster decimated with injuries. The Suns have lost 19 of 21.
The interim coach is expected to be one of two assistants, either Corey Gaines or Earl Watson.
Rumors have the Suns chasing Luke Walton and Mike D’Antoni as potential long-term replacements.
Just after Christmas, the Suns fired Hornacek’s two top assistants, Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting, and from that point on it was a question of when, not if, Hornacek would be next.
However, the Suns’ problem stem from decisions by owner Robert Sarver and GM Ryan McDonough far more than Hornacek — and it’s not the fault of millennials. The season the Suns won 48 games, a season the Suns were predicted to be one of the league’s worst teams, caused them to abandon a slower, patient growth model and to try to jump-start the process. They weren’t ready. It was the front office that kept attempting to replicate the two-guard success they had with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe (which was a bit of a fluke) by bringing in Isaiah Thomas then trading for Brandon Knight, neither of which worked. It was the front office that brought in Tyson Chandler, who has been injured and not the same player. It was the front office that traded Marcus Morris (in a play for LaMarcus Aldridge), angering his twin brother Markeiff and taking him from valuable contributor to malcontent the Suns are struggling to trade. It was nobody’s fault that Eric Bledsoe went down injured, and that Knight has missed nearly half the games since the start of 2016 due to injuries.
What kind of team do the Phoenix Suns want to be? Answer that question, hire a coach to execute it, then start building a roster to fit that. And for once, be patient with the process.