With the Houston Rockets' commitment to hire Mike D'Antoni yesterday as their head coach, current and former Phoenix Suns coaches and GMs will be in top positions of eight of the league's 30 teams in 2016-17.
Nearly every coach in the last twenty years and every GM in the last forty years of the Suns franchise are in top decision-making positions at this moment.
Sure there's a couple of exceptions, but the totality of this reality is quite impressive. There's 30 NBA franchises out there. Can any of them say that their former employees control eight different franchises today?
Current NBA head coaches
Former Suns GM Steve Kerr is the current NBA Coach of the Year for the defending champ Golden State Warriors. Kerr was the Suns' GM and President from 2007-2010, resulting in two playoff appearances in 4 seasons before returning to the broadcast booth. Then he took over the Warriors and turned them into one of the league's all-time best teams. That's a pretty good success story, and goes to show that maybe Kerr was better as a coach than GM all along.
Mike D'Antoni won 65% of his games as coach of the Suns from 2003-2008 and led the Suns to the playoffs in all four full seasons he was at the helm. You might remember him here.
But he has won only 43% of his games since, including just one playoff series in six seasons. He coached the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers from 2008-2014, including some of the NBA's best players in Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire in NY, and Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in LA. While those rosters were flawed, little was delivered.
Now, he takes over a dysfunctional Rockets team that was supposed to contend but
missed the playoffs barely made the playoffs but embarrassed themselves in the process this past season. Maybe Mike D'Antoni's time with Houston will be successful, since he's got one of the best offensive players in the game in James Harden and a cast of multi-positional players on the roster to run his wide open offense.
After a failed dalliance with Terry Porter to instill defensive mindset on the Suns, the Suns then turned to Alvin Gentry.
Alvin Gentry coached the Suns over 5 different seasons (2009-2013), compiling a 52% winning percentage. Unfortunately, he only led the Suns to one playoff appearance in those seasons. But that one playoff run was magical, wasn't it?
Before running the Suns, Gentry coached Miami, Detroit and the Clippers over seven seasons with just one playoff appearance and an under.500 composite record.
Last year, Gentry took over a New Orleans Pelicans team that was supposed to the new darling of the NBA behind All-Everything Anthony Davis and a playoff appearance under Monty Williams. But everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Pellies, and they stumbled their way to the league's sixth worst record, winning only 36% of their games, and now the GM is reportedly on the hot seat.
Not a great outside-Phoenix track record for D'Antoni and Gentry, huh?
Maybe Jeff Hornacek will have a great time in New York, running his offense through Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, though since the news leaked of Hornacek's hiring we haven't seen hide nor hair of him in the Big Apple. But with no other head coach openings out there, don't expect Hornacek to leave the Knicks hanging.
That's four of the 30 coaching jobs belonging to former Suns coach/GMs.
It was almost five, but Scott Skiles (Suns coach from 2000-02) up and quit the Magic after one frustrating season.
Over the last thirteen years, the Suns have had six head coaches. Four of those, including current coach Earl Watson, will be head coaches in the 2016-17 season.
Terry Porter is a college head coach now. Lindsey Hunter is... well, who cares. All he is to me is the one guy the Suns put in a head coach position that had no business being a head coach.
Current NBA General Managers
Former Suns also dot the league's front offices. Every Suns GM in the past 40 years, with one glaring exception, is now running an NBA team or USA Olympic team, either from the sidelines as head coach or from the front office as GM.
Like we reached for Steve Kerr connections in the earlier section, let's reach for Danny Ainge now. Ainge was the Suns head coach from 1997-2000, and now runs a very successful Celtics franchise as their GM and President. He's now built his second unique playoff-caliber team in the last eight years, the first one being a championhip team.
Cavaliers GM Dave Griffin spent nearly two decades in the Suns front office, topping out as Assistant GM to D'Antoni and Kerr, before leaving with Kerr in the summer of 2010 when the working relationship with managing partner Robert Sarver soured.
Griffin has since ascended to the top spot in Cleveland and was lucky enough to have the greatest player of this generation show up on his doorstep. He's built a really good team around LeBron James, and is one win away from his second NBA Finals appearance in a row as GM.
With Bryan Colangelo's hiring to run the Sixers, if you add in Kerr and D'Antoni in the coaching ranks, Ryan McDonough in Phoenix and father Jerry running Team USA, that's every Suns GM in the past forty years currently the head man of an NBA team in 2016-17.
There's one glaring exception, of course. Lance Blanks. From 2010-13. Blanks had no business being a GM but was given the job anyway on the recommendation of R.C. Buford among others. Blanks was a disaster, ridiculed behind his back by his staffers and finally was canned in April 2013 after ruining the franchise.
I recently shared with you that the Suns make a habit of promoting newbies into top spots, and by extension have paid them less than the league average to perform their services for the Suns.
But with the exceptions of Lindsey Hunter and Lance Blanks, every head honcho has been legit and continues to get important positions in the league largely on the back of their resume with the Suns.
So while Robert Sarver doesn't know how to keep people around, he at least knows (for the most part) how to hire them.
Let's hope Ryan McDonough and Earl Watson carry on the legacy.