Phoenix Suns hire Jeff Hornacek as new head coach
"We are thrilled to introduce Jeff Hornacek as the new head coach of the Phoenix Suns," general manager Ryan McDonough said in a statement released by the team. "Jeff has all of the qualities we were looking for in a head coach -- he is a leader, a teacher and a student of the game. Jeff's name has been high on our list ever since my first interview with the Suns. His successes as a player and as an assistant coach, along with his deep ties to this franchise and this community, give us confidence that he will do great things as the next head coach of the Phoenix Suns."
Hornacek, 50, was selected by Phoenix in the second round of the 1986 NBA Draft and spent his first six seasons with the Suns, averaging 13.7 points and 5.4 assists per game and making the NBA All-Star Game in 1992 before being traded to Philadelphia after the 1992-93 season as part of the deal for Charles Barkley.
He has limited NBA coaching experience - getting his first full-time gig as an assistant with the Jazz in February 2011 after Jerry Sloan and Phil Johnson left the organization - but said he would draw on coaches he played for and had a clear vision of what the Suns were looking for.
"When I met with these guys last week, the direction that Ryan (McDonough) and Lon (Babby) and Robert (Sarver) wanted for this organization, they laid it out there for me," Hornacek said at his introductory press conference. "It was a setup that I can compare to when I was here way back in the day in 1988, when we brought some guys in named Kevin Johnson, Mark West and Tyrone Corbin. We were able to take a team that was struggling a little bit and get back to winning ways. I'm honored and excited to be here."
Hornacek replaces the duo of Alvin Gentry and Lindsey Hunter, who led the team to a 25-57 record, the team's worst since it went 16-66 in their debut season of 1968-69; Gentry, who coached the team for four-plus years, was fired in mid-January after a 13-28 start, and Hunter went 12-29 as the interim coach.Follow us on Twitter @LouDiPietroYES and @YESNetwork for more.