Report: Hornacek favorite for Suns' coaching job
MAY 25, 2013 11:01p ET
According to Yahoo! Sports, former Suns guard Jeff Hornacek has emerged as the frontrunner for the head coaching job.
Hornacek, an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz, reportedly also is in the running for the head coaching vacancies in Philadelphia and Charlotte, where he interviewed last week.
During a recent press conference to publicly announce the firing of general manager Lance Blanks, president of basketball operations Lon Babby said one of the current administration’s shortcomings was the failure to pay proper respect to the franchise’s past. Hiring Hornacek would register as a big step in reducing whatever problems that failure created.
Hornacek, who spent the first six years of his 14-year NBA playing career in Phoenix, has been an assistant in Utah under coach Tyrone Corbin for the past two seasons. Before that, he worked with the Jazz in a part-time role as a shooting coach.
The 50-year-old Hornacek reportedly met with Babby and new general manager Ryan McDonough this past week.
Yahoo! cited sources as saying that a hire could be finalized within the week, but in a draft-lottery-related meeting with reporters at US Airways Center last week, McDonough was more vague in referencing a time frame for bringing in a coach.
“I feel like (the list) narrows and expands at the same time,” McDonough said.
With pre-draft workouts on another front burner, McDonough wouldn’t mind having the new coach around to assist in the evaluations leading to the Suns' picks at Nos. 5 and 30 in the first round.
But that’s not an overriding variable.
“I’m not going to rush the process just to have a guy for the draft workouts,” McDonough said.
While Hornacek is touted as the favorite, the Yahoo! report also states that the Suns have interviewed Houston Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff and have requested permission to meet with Lakers assistant Steve Clifford.
Kelvin Sampson, another Rockets assistant, was identified as a candidate earlier in the process, as was Quin Snyder. Snyder, who was the head coach at Missouri before becoming an NBA assistant, currently is working as an assistant for CSKA Moscow.
But another NBA assistant coach who’s interested in the Suns job and has the same agent said Phoenix hasn’t contacted Snyder, so his candidacy seems tenuous.
It also has been posited that longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer and Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw are in the mix.
Budenholzer, who was a candidate for the Suns' job before the hiring of Terry Porter, is involved in the Western Conference finals and has a limited window for job interviews. The Pacers, who are busy with the Eastern Conference finals, have not allowed teams to contact Shaw.
It should be noted that several of the aforementioned names have also come up in connection with other NBA coaching vacancies.
Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey, speaking about Hornacek, told the Salt Lake Tribune earlier this month, "He’ll have some choices, either this year or in the coming years about where he wants to be in his career as a potential head coach. He’s very capable ... obviously a great basketball mind, a natural."
The Suns have not publicly identified any candidates other than interim coach Lindsey Hunter, who interviewed for the permanent job about two weeks ago. Hunter went 12-29 in his 41-game audition after taking over for Alvin Gentry at midseason.