Suns may reportedly pursue Mike D’Antoni for head coaching position
Seven Seconds or Less enthusiasts unite.
According to a report by ESPN’s Marc Stein on Monday, there is “active buzz” in NBA coaching circles that the Phoenix Suns may pursue former head coach Mike D’Antoni to return to the position should it become available.
Fresh 2016 NBA bench rumble: There is active buzz in coaching circles that Mike D'Antoni will be on Suns' list if/when that job comes open
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 4, 2016
D’Antoni is currently employed by the Philadelphia 76ers in an associate head coaching capacity. He served as head coach of the Suns from 2003 to 2008 as his fast-paced, high-octane offense took the league by storm and helped transform the NBA into the small-ball, pace-and-space juggernaut it is today.
The 64-year-old head coach’s reputation has taken a hit in recent years, however, thanks to disastrous subsequent head coaching tenures with the Knicks and the Lakers. In those later gigs, D’Antoni stubbornly refused to adapt to a rapidly-evolving NBA, choosing instead to stick to what had worked for him in the mid-2000s, despite the fact that most of the league had already caught up.
D’Antoni is still highly regarded in the greater basketball community though with the likes of Steve Kerr and Alvin Gentry crediting him for the offensive principles that helped the Warriors win the title last summer.
As for the Suns, they’re a hot mess right now at 12-25 in what’s looking more and more like a lost season. Star guard Eric Bledsoe is done for the year with a torn meniscus, forward Markieff Morris is still unhappy, and head coach Jeff Hornacek appears to be in grave danger of losing his job. The team has already axed assistants Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting, and now owner Robert Sarver is making inflammatory comments about the team to the media. Not to mention that they gave up 142 points to the Kings on Saturday night before an embarrassing 97-77 loss to the woeful Lakers on Sunday in which they had just 22 points at the end of the first half.
While there is no guarantee at the moment that the position even becomes available, perhaps a reunion with D’Antoni is the breath of fresh (albeit, familiar) air the Suns need. There are only a handful of jobs left in today’s NBA where D’Antoni could still find success, but a young, run-and-gun Phoenix team might be one of them. Hornacek himself even found success with this group in 2013-14, his rookie season as head coach. That year, Hornacek won 48 games and finished runner-up in Coach of the Year voting after instituting an up-tempo system that the team ran to near perfection.
D’Antoni already has his foot back in the NBA coaching door, and it only seems like a matter of time before he finds a head coaching job again in a league that has now become revolutionized by offensive ideals he largely helped initiate. Perhaps his old stomping grounds in Phoenix will be that job.