The Suns are losing – and miserable.
Devin Booker said, “We’re not on the same page. It’s the worst I’ve seen it since I’ve been here, and that’s saying a lot.” Rookie Deandre Ayton said his patience has run out and he’s ready to take over.
Phoenix just ended a 17-game losing streak with a win over the Heat last night, but before that victory, Suns coach Igor Kokoskov had his seat warming.
I do think that this could be it for Igor. I do believe that this could be the last game. They’ve been humiliated. They’re defeated.
But I’m not certain Kokoskov is a bad coach. Phoenix’s roster is extremely lacking. It’s difficult to isolate coaching ability from team performance.
Kokoskov is also in his first season as an NBA head coach. Even if he’s a bad coach right now, I expect him to improve.
That said, the Suns don’t owe him anything. Kokoskov hasn’t impressed enough to earn this job long-term. On one level, it’d be sad for him if he didn’t get more of an opportunity in Phoenix. But he hasn’t proven he deserves it. The absence of indisputably poor coaching is not enough reason to keep a coach.
The general manager who hired Kokoskov, Ryan McDonough, has since been fired. Replacement James Jones might want to hire his own coach.
The Suns don’t play again until Friday. This could be the window to make a change, as Gambadoro noted. Gambadoro didn’t specifically say why he believed last night’s game could have been Kokoskov’s last, and there can be a thin line between speculation and reporting. But Gambadoro is well-connected in Phoenix. I’d be surprised if his assessment isn’t at least partially based on the feeling within the organization.
If the Suns plan to fire Kokoskov after the season, they might as well do it now. With 20 games left, there’s still ample opportunity to improve player mood and development, especially with Ayton and Booker.
There’s also value in continuing to evaluate Kokoskov. Again, he’s a first-time NBA head coach who should be improving as he goes.
But with this noise already emerging, Kokoskov’s seat will likely be extremely hot this offseason – if he makes it that far.