Suns not looking internally for next coach - East Valley Tribune: News

Suns not looking internally for next coach

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Posted: Monday, May 12, 2008 9:39 pm | Updated: 10:06 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

For those pushing for Tom Chambers, Eddie Johnson, Dan Majerle or Vinny Del Negro to be the next coach of the Suns, their horses didn't make it through day one of the Suns' first full-fledged search in decades.

Bordow: Byron Scott should be atop Suns' list

During an appearance on KTAR (620 AM) Monday afternoon, Suns managing partner Robert Sarver was asked if any current member of the Suns' staff or anyone involved with the organization could be ruled out as the successor to Mike D'Antoni, who is leaving to coach the New York Knicks.

"I think that's safe to say," Sarver said.

That doesn't mean any of them couldn't find a place on the staff as an assistant next season, or that someone couldn't overwhelm general manager Steve Kerr with his vision and aptitude during what promises to be a meticulous search that could last weeks.

But that likely means D'Antoni's top assistant, Alvin Gentry, is free to follow him to New York.

Kerr said he made or took 25-30 phone calls in his first day and didn't set up any interviews with prospective candidates, adding that meeting face to face with anyone is likely a week away.

One person Kerr does want to talk with is longtime NBA point guard and current broadcaster Mark Jackson, who was believed to be the front-runner for the New York Knicks job until D'Antoni swooped in and agreed to a four-year, $24 million deal on Saturday.

Jackson told the Tribune on Monday that the Phoenix job would interest anyone, including himself.

"It's a great job. That team is ready to win right now," Jackson said. "It's very intriguing. Anyone who got that job would consider themselves lucky."

Asked if he made contact with anyone from the Suns, Jackson said: "I haven't talked to anyone. I don't want to say anything else."

Kerr said he was leaning toward someone who has "been on that bench" as a head coach, and that hiring someone from the college ranks is highly unlikely.

"I think NBA experience is critical, whether as a player, head coach, assistant coach or all of the above," Kerr said. "Preferably, it's someone who's been with a great organization, someone who has played with championship-caliber teams or coached championship-caliber teams.

"We want someone who communicates well with our players, our staff, the media and our fans. It takes a special person to not only handle the job but flourish in it."

And that person will come from a pool that Kerr "wouldn't call a short list, but it's not a long list.

"You can't have a short list until you meet people face to face and really home in on them."

The list won't include Scottsdale resident and former NBA coach Doug Collins, who is staying as a broadcaster with TNT. Jeff Van Gundy also ruled himself out Monday, telling KTAR that while he would like to return to coaching at some point, he will continue broadcasting for at least one more year.

Sarver also said that he doesn't expect the team to do "a total 180" and become a defense-first team, which would appear to push the likes of Boston assistant coach Tom Thibodeau from consideration. Sarver said that the Suns' top six or seven players likely wouldn't change a lot and that the "championship window" is open only for the next two years.

"We're at the goal line; we just need to get over the goal line," Sarver said. "We don't need to become, all of a sudden, the best defensive team in the league. We just need to be a better defensive team."

BONUS SHOTS: Sarver told KTAR that if D'Antoni hadn't found a job last week, there was no way he would have fired him with two years and $8.5 million left on his contract, and that he would have expected D'Antoni to resign.

"This whole thing where you quit and all of a sudden you get paid for two or three years, I find it repulsive," he said. "You get paid for working. I wasn't going to fire someone to pay them $9 million to go sit on the beach. There's no way.

"And the first thing Mike said to me (after stating his decision) was, 'I don't want to take your money ... that's not right, it's not fair to you or to the organization.' "

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