Suns fire Hornacek in wake of 2-19 skid

From staff reports

The Suns have fired head coach Jeff Hornacek following Sunday’s 91-78 loss to Dallas. The news was first broken by Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski and was confirmed by the team Monday morning.

The Suns issued a statement Monday that read: “The Phoenix Suns have relieved Jeff Hornacek of his duties as head coach following his two-plus seasons in the position, the club announced today.

The Suns plan to have an interim head coach in place by Tuesday.

Hornacek was named the 16th head coach in franchise history on May 28, 2013, returning to the team with whom he spent his first six professional seasons as a player. In two-plus seasons as head coach of the Suns, Hornacek’s teams compiled a 101-112 (.474) record, including a 14-35 (.286) mark this season. In Hornacek’s inaugural season of 2013-14 the Suns went 48-34 followed by a 39-43 record last season.”

Suns GM Ryan McDonough will address the move to the media following Monday morning’s shootaround.

Sunday’s loss, however, was Phoenix’s 19th defeat in 21 games, a nosedive that cost two assistant coaches their jobs shortly after Christmas.

Here’s more from Wojnarowski on the Suns’ late-night decision to change coaches:

General manager Ryan McDonough informed Hornacek of the decision upon the Suns’ return to Phoenix after a 91-78 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night.

For the 14-35 Suns, the situation turned into an impossible task for Hornacek. A month ago, ownership fired Hornacek’s top two assistant coaches, leaving him with an inexperienced staff. The team also lost Eric Bledsoe to a season-ending knee injury and has been dealing with an unhappy Markieff Morris the entire season since his twin brother, Marcus, was traded in the offseason.

The Suns were missing four players, including their three top scorers in Hornacek’s final game as coach.

“We’re going to try to get things changed around,” Hornaceck said at the time. “We’re not quitting on anything. We’re just going to continue to work and try to implement a couple of different things and see if we can get it going. Whatever happens after that, you can’t get concerned about that.”

But Hornacek lasted little more than a month after the assistants’ dismissals, ending his Suns tenure at 101-112 in two-plus seasons.

Hornacek’s stint with the Suns, for whom he played from 1986 to 1992, started well enough with a 48-34 season in 2013-14. But they fell to 39 victories last season, and at 14-35 are on pace to finish with their worst record since they joined the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1968-69.

They have the NBA’s worst record since Dec. 20, ranking last in offensive rating (96.3 points per 100 possessions), defensive rating (111.0/100) and point differential (minus 14.7/100) over that span. The swoon was compounded by the loss of leading scorer Bledsoe, who is out for the season with a torn meniscus.

Wojnarowski reports that the interim coach is expected to be one of their two current assistant coaches: longtime NBA guard Earl Watson and former Developmental League coach Nate Bjorkgren, both of whom were elevated on the staff after the December shake-up.

Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic has more on what’s next for the team, both on the coaching front and overall:

The Suns will interview assistant coaches today before choosing an interim head coach. Corey Gaines, a former Phoenix Mercury head coach, was promoted from player devlopment assistant to assistant coach before this season. Earl Watson and Nate Bjorkgren, a former D-League head coach, were promoted to front-row assistants on Dec. 28 following the firings of assistant coaches Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting.

The Suns were expected to contend for a playoff spot this season but are headed for a sixth consecutive non-playoff season, the longest postseason drought in franchise history. The Suns have lost 14 consecutive road games, tying for the franchise’s second-longest streak, but have been a difficult situation for Hornacek since the offseason, when his contract’s team option year for 2016-17 was not exercised and the Markieff Morris saga began with a trade request following his twin’s trade to Detroit.

The Suns returned seven players from last season’s 39-43 team, which lost 10 of its last 11 games after injuries and three deadline trades took it out of playoff contention. Five players remain from Hornacek’s rookie head coaching season, when the Suns were a surprise success at 48-34.

Hornacek, 52, was 101-112 in his three seasons as Suns head coach. He is the NBA’s fourth head coach to be fired, joining Houston’s Kevin McHale, Brooklyn’s Lionel Hollins and Cleveland’s David Blatt.

VIDEO: Suns fall apart down stretch in Dallas



  1. michael doliner says:

    Sarver has to go. Dragic and Morris both expressed the opinion that promises had not been kept. The thomas deals were stupid. This organization has the reputation of not keeping their word. Deadly

  2. Dave says:

    Jeff Hornacek wasn’t the problem with the Suns. The management messed around way too much. Instead of building upon a solid core of players, which they had had, they kept trading.

  3. HONKYSAUCE says:

    Phoenix should consider coaxing Steve Nash to become a head coach. I know players would follow him. He just has that kind of charisma and leadership ability. Horncek was a solid SG in the NBA, but that doesn’t always translate to a great head coach.

  4. Justsayin says:

    Good for him. Now they can’t ruin his coaching win % anymore.

  5. beachesq says:

    DOLLARS to DONUTS you get a black coach. The black players want black coaches, plain and simple. They dont want white American players on their teasm and are having a hard enough time with the foreign white players.

    You think I am kidding? I am not making racial statements here. This a repeat of the late 80’s and 90’s when the black players became outrage about all the european white players being brought in. You forget they were all being quoted as “This Is Our Game!’ The meaning was clear. Then the NBA had to remind them that in the 70’s into the 80’s the league was predominantly black and revenues were very low with many teams bankrupt.

    Still think I am kidding? You dont remember that the NY Daily News had a headline when Bill Bradley was drafted by the Knicks. Guess how it read: “GREAT WHITE HOPE!” The players must learn not to kill the golden goose. That was the lesson when the NBA front office told them not to injure Jordan for he had turned the league around. They didnt like that but finally got the message.

  6. Hormacek had a thing going…his players were just stubborn

  7. John says:

    All I want to know.. How does Byron Scott and Eric Spo still have headcoaching jobs??

  8. Mr. Miller says:

    And here comes Mike D’Antoni. I’ve seen rumors already speculating and he said he is open for a return. Not to mention STAT was on that list of returnees. Idk about everyone else but please make this happen, I’d actually enjoy watching my favorite team play again.

  9. Daniel V. says:

    I think it’s the owners, gm and the coaches fault. They all had a part in the Suns collapse. I was always told that the players take on the personality of the coach. Well as a long time fan, I NEVER saw the coach get fires up on the sideline, he was always calm or annoyed and just pacing. As far as the gm and owner, they just made idiotic moves and need to be gone. Ever since Collangello (both father snd then son), the Suns have not been the same. With as great a history as the Suns have, they deserve an owner and gm much better than what they have now.

  10. bodjee says:

    If you were an head coach with lots of ups, would you ever think of working for the Phoenix Suns?

  11. Nick Burton says:

    That’s messed up. I can’t believe they fired Jeff Hornaceck and didn’t get rid of the players that were being a poison to the team.

  12. Pete says:

    The Gm and the OWNER don’t have a clue what they are doing. They need to Fire these Incomptent people. These guys have gone through 5 coaches in 8 years. What does that tell you? It can’t be all the coaches that are defective. It’s management and the Owner. No longer a fan

  13. Jimi Storie says:

    You trade away 1 of 3 best players. Your best player goes down from injuries. INJURIES ARE THE ONE THING NO ONE CAN CHOACH!

  14. markiss says:

    FIRE THE GM! TRADE PJ! GO for Rudy Gay! PHX needs a talented 3!

  15. Valerie says:

    Wrong person being held held accountable. The GM and above don’t know what they are doing. Jeff and Steven Kerr are exceptional talents and the Suns have failed to see that.
    What a joke.

    • Mr. Miller says:

      Steve Kerr was absolute garbage for us as a GM. He brought in Shaq and let STAT and Matrix go for absolutely nothing. Garbage.

  16. RICHARD says:

    They need to the GM he’s the one who pu these players on the floor ! also IF Robert Sarver would sell the team there would be a VICTORY PARADE ! HE IS THE WORST OWNER IN THE NBA , BY FAR !

  17. Nick says:

    Scott Brooks?????????

  18. Minermac says:

    Good place for David Blatt the Suns need to tear it apart and start over and Blatt would be the right coach to rebuild.

  19. Stephen says:

    The weakness of the Suns is not the fault of Jeff Hornacek, but the team. The team is lack of a kind of player who can be the soul of the team, i.e. the leader. Jeff already did his best on manipulating those players to get as many wins as they can. Therefore, the weakness of the Suns in this season is not related to the coach, but the team players.

  20. Jeff says:

    The blame should be on the GM and owner. If you look around the league, a half-dozen of the players that the Suns had last year are starters for other teams this year. But the Suns got virtually nothing in return. They decimated their roster and expected to make the playoffs? I have been a Suns fan for 30 years, but a poor owner and incompetent front office has me looking for a different team to root for.

  21. terry swann says:

    It all starts with Sarver. Every decision he has made has brought this franchise lower and lower. Get rid of him!

  22. vmvigil says:

    wrong person held accountable. The GM and above don’t know what they are doing. Jeff and is Steven Kerr are exception and the Suns have failed to see that and hold on to both. What a joke.

  23. karatekid1019 says:

    So when does McDonough take responsibility for the poor job he’s done, breaking up an exciting team? He should resign and be a man, but looks like he’s yet another GM who screws up and blames the coaching (Trent Baalke firing Jim Harbaugh is another good example).

  24. Dave says:

    Bring in David Blatt. No doubt about it.

  25. Ray says:

    The Lakers SHOULD FIRE coach B. Scott, why they haven’t is be on me and MANY Laker fans. I in the past had been a Laker follower but lately have changed my thoughts on them, maybe when Jack Nicholson Quit going to the games maybe he Knew something we didn’t….

    • dd def says:

      what confuses me is what compelled you to share this opinion in an article about the Suns and Hornaceck

  26. stoney burke says:

    Just another mistake, by ownership.

  27. Luke says:

    In Honacek’s first season the Suns overachieved compared to what was expected for the bunch that he had, almost garnering a playoff berth. The mess with the PHX Suns goes straight to the ineptitude of Ownership and Management with their horrendous decisions the past year

  28. pej says:

    Any for phoenix any coach will fail, short of talents.

  29. Ron says:

    I think that Robert Sarver should sell the team to someone that wants to win, since Jerry Colangelo left we have gone down hill in wanting to be a top team.

  30. Tee says:

    Well, as the old saying goes: players win games; coaches lost games.

  31. Szabi says:

    Not surprised – It is all started with the nonsense decisions to have 3 quality point guards – it killed the chamistry – the rest is history

  32. Ping says:

    I Hope LAKERS Fired Byron Scott.. !!!!!

  33. jimbo says:

    …bring Kevin Mchale to Phoenix! he is good!

  34. Nathan says:

    I knew it…

  35. Sam says:

    Not many coaches can get 100 points out of this group of rookies and leftovers. Suns needs 2 real centers, 2 real forwards and 1 more shooting guard to replace Chandler, Len, Morris, Goodwin, Weems even Teletovic who has nothing beyond 3-pointers.