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‘Serious candidates’ from Portland given permission to interview for Suns coaching job

Nate Tibbets and David Vanterpool are the latest assistants to join the pool of candidates to replace Igor Kokoskov in Phoenix.

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Riding high from an incredible first-round series victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Portland Trail Blazers are opening their doors to interviews for assistants David Vanterpool and Nate Tibbets, with the Suns the latest on the list of interested parties.

According to ESPN, Portland this morning granted the Suns permission to interview both assistants.

Tibbets, 41, is the more prolific of the two in terms of recent job opportunities. After leaving the Cavaliers’ staff in 2013, Tibbets has not only been given heaps of credit for helping build this iteration of Portland but become one of the top candidates for head-coaching positions around the NBA.

Vanterpool, 46, strikes me as more in line with what the Suns might want in a coach, having spent some time in the NBA before playing professionally in Europe with CSKA Moscow. After retiring as a player, Vanterpool began his coaching career with CSKA Moscow and has been with Portland since 2012.

He is also on the staff of our good friend Jay Triano with the Canadian men’s national team and interviewed last year for the Magic’s head coach opening.

If this all sounds familiar, that’s because Triano himself was supposed to bring some stability to the Suns’ locker room and scheme by bringing expertise from the Trail Blazers when he was hired to Watson’s staff. These candidates also seems frustratingly similar to Igor Kokoskov.

Hiring Vanterpool or Tibbets may well work out better than Kokoksov, but the formula is the same — young, first-time coaches with a background in player development.

Both Portland assistants are behind Monty Williams in the “race” to become the next coach of the Suns, according to ESPN.