Update: Per Paul Coro, it's definitely happening: Jeff Hornacek is returning to the Valley to coach the Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns President of Basketball Operations said that the Suns had lost their way recently, and had not properly respected their rich history in recent years. They may be correcting that mistake in a big way.
Effort had been made to turn a new corner after Amare Stoudemire left in 2010. Steve Nash got a two-year tribute tour with a ragtag Suns team that failed to make the playoffs in his last two years in the Valley. Then after Nash left, the Suns hit rock bottom, all while divesting themselves of many great names and personalities that made the franchise one of the models of the NBA.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Phoenix Suns may be on the verge of taking a huge feel-good step back into the past by following Suns tradition and hiring a former player to lead the troops into the future. Dick Van Arsdale did it in 1987 for 26 games. Paul Westphal did it from 1992-1996. Then Danny Ainge for parts of three seasons, after only 13 games on the bench. Then Frank Johnson.
And now maybe Jeff Hornacek, who was drafted by the Suns at the dawn of the other blackest period of their history, will lead the Suns into the dawn once again.
One of the Phoenix Suns' popular former players - Jeff Hornacek - has emerged as the frontrunner for the franchise's head coaching job, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Jazz assistant Jeff Hornacek is the leading candidate to become the Suns' new head coach. (USA Today Sports)An assistant coach with the Utah Jazz, Hornacek met with new Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and president Lon Babby in the past week in Phoenix.
No offer has yet been extended to Hornacek, but the Suns' search process could be completed within the next week, league sources said.
He was an unheralded second-round pick who made himself into a player, and then an All-Star, and was traded to acquire one of the brightest Suns of all time: Charles Barkley. Hornacek went on to play many great years with the Utah Jazz.
I do admit some surprise here. I thought the Suns would wait until more coaches became available as the playoffs wound down. Brian Shaw, Mike Budenholzer, Dave Joerger, Lionel Hollins. All good candidates with much longer pedigrees as coaches in the NBA.
Hornacek has only two years as a full-time NBA assistant after consulting for a few years before that. The Suns dallied in hiring Hornacek as far back as 2004, but at the time he had no experience and wanted to watch his kids graduate high school before committing to a full time coaching gig.
Now maybe one of the most popular Suns of all time will come home to shepherd a new/old era.
Update from Gambo, who has the Suns in his back pocket: