Let’s go ahead and pick up the breadcrumbs being left across the internet regarding the Suns’ new coaching staff, which looks to be nearing completion.
We wrote yesterday about the level-headedness and strategic aptitude Willie Green might bring from the Warriors’ bench to the Suns’ young roster, but several other coaches have accepted positions in Phoenix as well.
From the start, Randy Ayers, Mark Bryant and Steve Blake were on the Suns’ radar, and according to longtime NBA reporters Peter Vecsey and Marc Stein, all three will join the Suns next season.
Steve Blake was hired by Monty Williams to assist him in Phoenix, per source. Randy Ayers, too...— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) June 3, 2019
Williams brought a wealth of experience to Phoenix when he took the Suns’ head coaching job, and he is pulling from everywhere to build his staff.
Bryant, 54, has been with the Thunder since the 2007-08 season, back when they were still the Seattle Supersonics. In fact, he was an assistant when former Suns head coach Earl Watson was still with Seattle. The relationship with Williams likely strengthened during Williams’ time with the Thunder and was apparently enough to convince Bryant to leave the comfort of Oklahoma City.
Valley fans may remember Bryant from his time in Phoenix as a player, from 1996-1998.
Ayers, 63, is another longtime coach who will bring experience and maturity to the Suns’ bench. He last coached in New Orleans, where he’s seen many different types of rosters with wildly different expectations over the past several years. He was a scout for the Nets last season.
One NBA assistant told Bright Side of the Sun that he could see Ayers being particularly valuable to help keep Williams measured and patient with a young team.
Now, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the bench will likely be finished with the addition of Oklahoma City’s Darko Rajakovic.
The Suns are closing in on the hiring of OKC assistant Darko Rajakovic to join new coach Monty Williams' staff, league sources say. Williams has also pursued Golden State's Willie Green (currently working The Finals) to join previous hires Mark Bryant, Randy Ayers and Steve Blake— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 4, 2019
The Serbian Rajakovic, 40, has coached for the Thunder since the 2014-15 season, under each of Scott Brooks and Billy Donovan. Before that, he began his career in Serbia, a job which eventually led him to a head coaching opportunity for the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA D League.
Along with Green, who will likely be hired after the Finals, this assistant staff appears to be quite diverse. This group is a combination of former players, and brings together people who have coached overseas and across the NBA.
Adding Riccardo Fois, Matt Massimino, David Nurse and Steve Blake, who will likely be in player development roles for the franchise, the basketball operations staff we expected to see grow this summer is indeed getting bigger and will offer Williams and general manager James Jones more perspectives throughout their first season running the Suns.