Phoenix Suns’ disastrous season results in the firing of Head Coach Jeff Hornacek
An official release by the Phoenix Suns has confirmed that the team has fired their Head Coach Jeff Hornacek on Sunday. Hornacek was informed of the team management’s decision by General Manager Ryan McDonough upon the team’s return to Phoenix after a 91-78 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Despite their fondness for Hornacek, the Suns management was seriously contemplating his fate with the team in early December. There were fears among many in the front office that the team was not responding to the Coach anymore. Although the franchise stuck with him, the lack of wins wasn’t helping Hornacek’s case.
Before being fired as the Head Coach, Hornacek’s Suns had a record of 14-35. They have lost 19 of their lost 21 games, including losses to the lowly Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers (2). Not to mention the team’s current 14 game road losing streak.
Hornacek’s first season with the Suns (2013-14) brought hope with a 48-34 record and just finishing outside the Western Conference Playoff bracket. However the season after that the team’s wins fell to 39 and in the ongoing season with a record of 14-35, the franchise is on track to register its worst record since it entered the league as an expansion team back in 1968-69.
Hornacek’s firing not completely his fault
Hornacek’s ends his tenure in Phoenix, where he played for six seasons from 1986-1992, with a coaching record of 101-112. The firing might be more circumstantial than a case of the Head Coach being deemed as unfit to Coach the team. Hornacek was coaching the Suns in conditions that were impossible to register a win.
A month back his two closest coaching assistants (Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting) were relieved of their duties in order to provide Hornacek and his team with some motivation to better. Add to that Eric Bledsoe’s season ending knee injury and an unhappy Markieff Morris, who was upset that his brother was traded to the Detroit Pistons in the past off-season.
The Suns were missing four players (three top scorers) in their last game against the Mavericks, with only Brandon Knight expected to return before the All-Star break.
Who will be Hornacek’s replacement?
Sources have told ESPN‘s Chris Broussard that the current Suns’ assistants Corey Gaines, Earl Watson and Nate Bjorkgren will be interviewed on Monday. The sources were spot on, as the Suns’ released an official statement regarding their Head Coaching vacancy. Watson was named the team’s interim Head Coach.
Watson is a 13 year NBA veteran having played for teams like the Seattle Supersonics, Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trailblazers, Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers. Watson was selected 40th overall in the 2001 NBA Draft and retired after the 2013-14 season with the Trailblazers.
Over the span of his career, he has played under four Coach of the Year Head Coaches in George Karl, Jerry Sloan, Scott Brooks and Hubie Brown. He spent the 2014-15 season as an assitant with the D-League team the Austin Spurs and was hired as an assistant with Phoenix this past off-season.
Post the firing, the internet has been abuzz with the possibility of Mike D’Antonio returning to Phoenix, where he coached the team for five years from 2003-08 and led the team one Conference Finals trip. Watson has been officially been named the interim Coach, giving the internet the freedom to imagine and propose more prospects for the team.
Jeff Hornacek was a shooting guard in the league for 14 years, playing for teams like the Suns, Utah Jazz and the Philadelphia 76ers. He was drafted 46th overall by the Suns in the NBA Draft of 1986 and was an All-Star in 1992. He made it to two NBA Finals with the Jazz in 1997 and 1998, both times going down to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. His #14 jersey is retired by the Jazz.