Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver has never intentionally hired an experienced NBA head coach to roam the sidelines for his beloved franchise.
Alvin Gentry was promoted mid-season in the wake of Terry Porter’s firing, and fired as soon as the going got tough. Jay Triano was promoted mid-season in the wake of Earl Watson’s firing, and was fired as soon as the season ended.
In fact, he’s more often hired head coaches who have barely even coached at all at the NBA level. None of Lindsey Hunter, Earl Watson or Jeff Hornacek had even been promoted to ‘front row’ during games coached for other franchises (where the head coach and his top 2-3 assistants sit) before taking the head coaching job for the Suns.
As a result, the Suns have the fewest wins of any franchise in the entire NBA since 2012.
Now the Suns are looking again.
And they are focused, once again, on a single (possibly, token) experienced candidate before turning their eyes to the assistant coach ranks.
Why would the Suns not focus on experienced head coaches? Because those guys know it’s supremely difficult to coach at all, let alone coach for an owner who won’t let the coach just coach or his GM just GM, and fires people in fits of rage regardless of the timing.
So here we are, with the Suns looking at the assistant ranks, knowing those assistants might be so desperate to grab one of the mere 30 of these jobs in the world that they’ll overlook the potential of a dumpster-fire.
After a head coaching interview with Sixers assistant Monty Williams tonight in Toronto, Suns officials are flying to Portland to meet Blazers assistants David Vanterpool and Nate Tibbetts on Saturday, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 27, 2019
Hey, at least Tibbetts and Vanterpool sit on the front row during games, next to head coach Terry Stotts!!!!
David Vanterpool has seven years of assistant coaching experience, all in Portland, and is being interviewed by Cleveland as well as the Suns these days while Portland awaits its opponent in the second round of the playoffs.
Nate Tibbetts has eight years experience as an NBA assistant coach, the last six in Portland.
The Suns recently lifted Jay Triano off the Portland coaching staff to be Earl Watson’s top assistant in 2016 before taking over on an interim basis in 2017-18 and being fired after the season without ever having of a training camp as the Suns head man.
Now they’re looking at more Portland coaches.
Both Tibbetts and Vanterpool would follow in recent Suns hiring footsteps — probably willing to take minimum salary in exchange for a three-year salary guarantee no matter how quickly Sarver moves on to his next victim.
We’ll keep you posted on more developments as they come.