Suns Rumors

Jay Wright Won’t Meet With NBA Teams

NBA teams with head coaching openings and aspirations of luring Jay Wright away from Villanova this offseason can probably give up that dream, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. According to Berman, Wright’s longtime agent Carl Hirsch has confirmed that the Wildcats coach won’t speak to NBA teams at this time, and will return to Villanova to defend the team’s championship.

“He’s under contract with Villanova and he’s very, very happy there,” Hirsch told Berman. “There’s no plans to leave.”

The stance doesn’t come as a surprise, since Wright made similar comments about a week after Villanova won this year’s championship game. Speaking to Dana O’Neil of The Athletic at the time, the veteran head coach admitted that he was “intrigued” by the NBA, but said he couldn’t see himself leaving his current position. While Wright’s comments left the door to the NBA slightly ajar, Hirsch essentially closed that door for now, per Berman.

[RELATED: 2018 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

A source tells Berman that at least two teams reached out to Wright’s representatives this month. One of those teams is believed to be the Knicks, whose desire to inquire on Wright was reported earlier in April. The identity of the second club isn’t known, but the Suns were believed to have Wright on their radar too. Neither team will get a chance to interview him.

With Wright set to return to Villanova, he’ll have a challenge ahead of him as he looks to lead the Wildcats to their third title in four years. Standout contributors Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson are going pro, and Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman – who have each entered the draft without hiring an agent – may join them.

Budenholzer's Withdrawal Raises Questions

  • It’s unclear why Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the Suns he was no longer interested in their head coaching job, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic writes. He was either underwhelmed by what he heard from the Suns’ brass, didn’t get a sufficient financial offer or found a better opportunity somewhere else, Bordow adds. Ex-Grizzlies coach David Fizdale appears to be the favorite for the job but he’s also being pursued by the Knicks, Hornets and perhaps the Bucks, Bordow continues. Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov also appears to be a prime candidate but if the Trail Blazers fire Terry Stotts, he would likely become the frontrunner, Bordow adds.

2018 Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Phoenix Suns

The NBA’s worst team in 2017/18, the Suns won fewer than 25 games for a third straight season and posted their worst record since 1968/69, the franchise’s first year of existence. As dismal as that sounds, Devin Booker continues to look like a franchise cornerstone, and young players like Josh Jackson showed promise. With a pair of first-round picks in hand – including a top-four selection – and some salary cap flexibility, the Suns are optimistic they can make a splash this summer and finally take a step toward contention in 2018/19.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Suns financially, as we kick off our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2018:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

  • Elfrid Payton ($4,749,591 qualifying offer / $9,997,020 cap hold)
  • Total: $9,997,020

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

  • No. 1 overall pick ($8,095,680)4
  • Alex Len ($7,956,438): Bird rights
  • No. 16 overall pick ($2,589,480)
  • Total: $18,641,598

Projected Salary Cap: $101,000,000

Projected Cap Room: $18,958,484

  • While the Suns only have about $70MM in guaranteed money on their books, they may have to account for more than $10MM in cap holds for their two first-round picks, which significantly cuts into their potential cap room. Our projection assumes that Phoenix retains its nine guaranteed contracts, plus Reed and its two first-rounders, totaling $82,041,516. In that scenario, the Suns would renounce Payton and Len, and waive their non-guaranteed players. The team could create more room via trades or cuts, and would also open up a little more space with bad draft lottery luck — the cap hold for the No. 4 overall pick would only be $5,864,640.

Footnotes:

  1. Reed’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after June 30.
  2. Williams can reportedly trigger a $1MM partial guarantee by meeting certain weight, body fat, and minute requirements. His salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 6.
  3. Harrison’s exact contract details aren’t yet known.
  4. The Suns are first in the draft lottery standings, giving them a 25% chance at the No. 1 overall pick. They also could end up at No. 2 ($7,243,440), No. 3 ($6,504,600), or No. 4 ($5,864,640).

Note: Rookie scale cap holds are estimates based on salary cap projections and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kokoskov Gets Jared Dudley's Endorsement

Lakers power forward Julius Randle could wind up in his hometown of Dallas next season, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype speculates. Randle would be a nice fit alongside guard Dennis Smith Jr. and the Mavericks have plenty of cap space to sign him. He played very well against them this season, averaging 21.8 PPG, 11.5 RPG and 5.6 APG on 66% shooting, Urbina notes. Randle would also slot in well with the Suns and Pacers, Urbina adds, though it’s more likely he winds up staying with the Lakers. Randle will be a restricted free agent if, as expected, the Lakers extend a $5.564MM qualifying offer by the June 29th deadline.

  • Igor Kokoskov has Jared Dudley‘s endorsement as the Suns search for a new head coach, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Kokoskov, 46, was instrumental in drawing up plays when Lindsey Hunter was Phoenix’s interim coach in 2013, according to Dudley. Kokoskov, who has interviewed for the Suns job, is currently a Jazz assistant. “It’s not like Igor is young,” Dudley said. “He’s had plenty of experience. It’s like Brett Brown in Philadelphia and Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta. They put the right staff around them. That’s the critical part. I think he’s shown he deserves the opportunity.”

Suns Speak To Kidd, Del Negro About HC Job

The Suns continue to conduct a wide-ranging search for their new head coach, with Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic reporting that the team has spoken to Jason Kidd and Vinny Del Negro about the job.

Kidd, who was fired by the Bucks earlier this year, was linked to the Suns earlier this month, and Bordow suggests that the former Brooklyn and Milwaukee coach has “openly campaigned” for the job. Kidd’s coaching résumé is a mixed bag — he led the Nets and Bucks to three playoff appearances in four years, but had a 183-190 overall record and didn’t always see eye-to-eye with management.

As for Del Negro, this is the first time we’ve heard his name connected to any coaching openings this spring. His history with the Suns likely contributed to the team’s decision to talk to him about the position — Del Negro played for the Suns in 2001, and was part of the team’s front office before he transitioned to coaching. In five seasons coaching the Bulls and Clippers, Del Negro compiled a 210-184 record, with a 10-19 postseason mark.

It’s not clear how seriously the Suns are considering Kidd or Del Negro, but the two former NBA head coaches join a group of candidates that includes David Fizdale, Igor Kokoskov, Frank Vogel, Steve Clifford, David Blatt, James Borrego, and Kevin McHale, per our tracker.

Urbina: Suns A Possible Suitor For Barton?

  • Jazz head coach Quin Snyder is happy to see assistant Igor Kokoskov receive consideration for the Suns‘ coaching job, per Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. “I’ve told him for a number of years that I think he’s a head coach in the NBA,” Snyder said. “It’s taken him some time to see himself that way because he’s just been focused on doing his job.”
  • Frank Urbina of HoopsHype offers up four potential destinations for Will Barton in free agency. Barton has spent the last three and a half seasons with the Nuggets and has expressed interest in sticking with the team, but Urbina also views the Suns, Pacers, and Sixers as viable suitors for the veteran swingman.

Suns Interview Igor Kokoskov For Head Coach Job

The Suns have interviewed Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov for their vacant head coach job, league sources tell Tony Jones of The Salt Lake City Tribune (Twitter link). We noted yesterday that Phoenix planned to interview Kokoskov as they continue their search.

Kokoskov has served an assistant for Utah since 2015 as part of Quin Snyder‘s staff. Before joining the Jazz, Kokoskov was an assistant coach for several teams, including the Clippers, Pistons, Suns, Cavaliers, and Magic. While Kokoskov has never been a head coach in the NBA, he does have experience coaching the Georgian and Serbian national teams.

Phoenix’s pool of candidates shrunk this week when Mike Budenholzer reportedly withdrew from consideration on Thursday. However, the Suns are still considering several names for the job. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (via Twitter) confirmed yesterday that Spurs assistant James Borrego and former Rockets head coach Kevin McHale are in consideration.

Several former NBA coaches are also reportedly in the mix, including David FizdaleSteve CliffordFrank Vogel, and David Blatt. Interim coach Jay Triano, who took over after the firing of Earl Watson this season, will also interview for the job.

Suns To Interview Jazz Assistant Igor Kokoskov

Another potential head coaching candidate has entered the mix in Phoenix, as John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM reports (via Twitter) that the Suns will interview Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov for the open job.

Kokoskov, a member of Quin Snyder‘s staff in Utah, was recently identified by league executives as one of the top head coaching candidates among NBA assistants, and has been mentioned as a possible dark-horse candidate for the Orlando job. It’s not clear when Kokoskov will get a chance to interview with the Suns, since the Jazz remain alive and well in the postseason — presumably though, Utah has already granted Phoenix permission to meet with the veteran assistant.

Before arriving in Utah, Kokoskov worked as an assistant for several other NBA teams, including the Clippers, Pistons, Suns, Cavaliers, and Magic. While he doesn’t have any NBA head coaching experience, Kokoskov has served as the head coach for the Georgian and Serbian national teams.

The Suns are conducting an extensive head coaching search, so even though Mike Budenholzer reportedly withdrew from consideration on Thursday, there are still several names to watch for the vacancy.

Gambadoro confirms that Spurs assistant James Borrego and former Rockets head coach Kevin McHale are being considered. Ex-NBA head coaches like David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Frank Vogel, and David Blatt are also said to be in the mix, along with interim coach Jay Triano, who will interview for the permanent position.

Latest On Suns' Head Coach Search

Earlier tonight, it was reported that Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer withdrew from consideration for the Suns‘ head coach position. It’s unclear why Budenholzer made the decision, but it shrinks the Suns’ pool of candidates. Per tonight’s report, the Suns continue to consider interim coach Jay Triano, David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Kevin McHale and Frank Vogel.

Before tonight’s news, Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports examined all of the potential candidates and their strengths related to the Phoenix organization. One scout told Bordow that the Suns need a “true teacher” to fill the role.

“The Suns need a true teacher,” the scout said. “A patient coach who understands the environment and history, willing to take lumps and teach the game (through) losses … similar to what occurred recently in Philly. Things will not change overnight but through resolve and commitment, it can happen within a reasonable timeframe.”

There is still the rest of the postseason and the offseason for the Suns to decide on their next coach. After tonight, however, their list of candidates is one name shorter.

Budenholzer Withdraws From Consideration For Suns Coach Job

Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer has withdrawn from consideration for the Suns‘ head coach vacancy, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Budenholzer met with the Suns on Monday and Tuesday and was expected to reach a decision this week.

A native of Holbrook, Arizona, Budenholzer still has two years and $13MM+ left on his deal with the Hawks.

With Budenholzer off the board, the Suns are considering interim coach Jay Triano, David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Kevin McHale and Frank Vogel to fill the position, Wojnarowski adds.

Budenholzer, 48, has been the Hawks’ head coach since 2013, leading the team to a 213-197 record. He won Coach of the Year for the 2014/15 season, a year in which the Hawks went 60-22 and went to the Eastern Conference finals.

The Hawks played to an Eastern Conference-worst 24-58 this season as the organization cut payroll and gathered young assets under general manager Travis Schlenk‘s vision.