Suns announce additions to coaching staff

Nate Bjorkgren coached Bakersfield to a 34-16 record last season in the NBA D League.

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns announced several changes to their coaching staff, promoting Corey Gaines to assistant coach and adding Nate Bjorkgren as assistant coach/player development coordinator, Earl Watson as assistant coach and Jason Fraser as player development assistant.

Mark West will return to the front office as vice president of player relations. The team also promoted Bubba Burrage to director of player personnel, which he will serve in addition to being general manager of the Bakersfield Jam and added Courtney Witte as director of scouting and Antonio Williams as scout.

Gaines moves up to a full-time coaching position following five seasons as player development coach for the Suns. He also spent eight seasons with the Phoenix Mercury, including six as head coach.

Bjorkgren served as coach of the Suns team at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, with Watson and Fraser on his staff. The Suns went 5-2 and advanced to the league championship game.

Bjorkgren, former head coach of Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek, was head coach of the Suns D-League affiliate in Bakersfield last year, leading the Jam to a 34-16 record. He previously coached the Dakota Wizards, Santa Cruz Warriors and Iowa Energy in the D League, compiling at overall record of 126-74.

Watson had a 13-year playing career before making the moving into coaching a year ago as an assistant for the D-League’s Austin Spurs. Fraser also served as an assistant coach for Austin last year.

West has spent 22 years in the Suns organization — eight as a player, followed by 12 in the front office before taking an assistant coaching job two years ago. He will return to the front office as vice president of player relations, a new position in charge of life skills development.

Burrage and Witte both have more than 20 years scouting experience. Burrage spent the past four season as the Suns’ head pro personnel scout. Witte was a scout for the Los Angeles Clippers last year after serving 11 seasons as the director of player personnel for the Philadelphia 76ers.