The Phoenix Suns have lost 23 of their last 26 games, which included a franchise-record 17-game losing streak, but first-year head coach Igor Kokoskov won’t be fired anytime soon.
Appearing on 98.7 FM’s Burns & Gambo on Wednesday, Co-Interim GM James Jones was asked about Kokoskov and didn’t hesitate to stand by his side, at least through the remainder of this season.
It sounds like the Suns have expectations to play consistently competitive basketball over the final six weeks of the 2018-19 campaign. So, it still could be possible the seat gets warm once again if Phoenix is unable to pick up some gimme wins against tanking teams down the stretch like New Orleans, New York, Chicago, Washington, Memphis and Cleveland.
“We’re committed to Igor, and we’re committed to finishing the season out on a high note,” Jones said. “We have room for improvement. That’s the challenge across the organization for us to improve upstairs as well as downstairs, on the court, off the court. So we’re going to push it. But Igor, it’s a tough job but he’s up to the challenge.”
Jones also mentioned that the Suns haven’t had any discussions of firing Kokoskov mid-season. And based off quick research, it looks like a rookie head coach hasn’t been fired during his first go-around — at least in-season without any other organizational changes surrounding him — since Jerry Tarkanian with the Spurs in 1992.
The Suns’ front office will continue to evaluate Kokoskov during their final 20 games before making any sort of decisions on the coaching staff.
“No, our stance is we need to evaluate what we do periodically, but more importantly to finish the season strong,” Jones said. “We support Igor and the staff and we’ll continue to work together to try to push this forward.”
We’ll see if that support stays for Kokoskov if the Suns spiral back out of control, but, in the meantime, no firings will be happening.
Over the last 10 years, the Suns have had seven different head coaches (Terry Porter, Alvin Gentry, Lindsey Hunter, Jeff Hornacek, Earl Watson, Jay Triano and Kokoskov). That’s a lot of turnover within a single decade.