Suns aren't rushing head coaching search

UPDATE: Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Suns have been granted permission to interview Houston Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Steve Clifford. They will also look into Jeff Hornacek and CSKA Moscow coach Quin Snyder.

PHOENIX — The head coaching search for the Phoenix Suns is mightily complicated, moreso than expected. Newly-appointed general manager Ryan McDonough’s chops in the NBA world will truly need to be on display in the next month or so, when he’ll continue to sort out the many NBA coaching candidates that could become leaders of the rebuilding Suns.

“I feel like (the list) narrows and expands at the same time,” McDonough said Tuesday, after the Suns learned they would select fifth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.

He said that it’s been difficult to shuffle his list — once he prioritizes his favorites, others have reached out. Still, McDonough remained confident that the Suns can get the coach they want once the research is done.

Asked if he was any closer to finding the next coach, McDonough could only say that “closer is a relative term.” There are several reasons why the Suns aren’t in a rush.

The timing while continuing to work the draft

The Suns must also juggle draft duties with finding a head coach. This also goes back to talking with candidates currently working for other NBA teams, as they could be deep into the process of evaluating prospects for June. Teams might not want to let them go — after all, they’ve spent years evaluating prospects and to lose that knowledge to another team could be hurtful.

Then comes the issue of having a coach in time for the Suns’ own draft preparations.

“I’m not going to rush the process just to have a guy for the draft workouts,” McDonough said, adding that it would, however, be ideal.

McDonough said he and the rest of the front office staff can help to conduct draft workouts if the head coach isn’t selected in the near future. In addition, some of the assistant coaching staff is still around despite the unclear status of interim head coach Lindsey Hunter. Most notably, assistant Ralph Sampson was present for the Suns’ draft lottery watching event on Tuesday (as an aside, the highlight of the event was Sampson turning up the volume on the highly-mounted flatscreens). Corey Gaines is also in U.S. Airways while running the Phoenix Mercury — though he’s probably a tad busy teaching first overall pick Brittney Griner.

McDonough added that he could still talk to president of basketball operations Lon Babby about adding to his scouting staff.

“Lon and I have to talk a little bit more about that,” McDonough said, who said his list of possible additions are with other teams. “Understandably, their current teams are hesitant to let them go.”

All that said, the good news is that McDonough knows the draft prospects already. He said that the Chicago combine didn’t do much to change his opinions of the players, and that the Suns’ front office staff in place before he earned the GM job has done its diligence in the background research on the potential draft picks.

Number of openings

The list of NBA teams looking for new coaches is only getting longer, and it’s probably the biggest reason a hire might not be made anytime soon. While the Suns suddenly jumped into the fray by getting their GM position settled, it’s only gotten more muddled for McDonough in determining who he sees as first-class candidates. And vice versa, he also must understand who is interested in the Suns.

Atlanta, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit, Brooklyn, Charlotte and the Los Angeles Clippers are all with Phoenix in figuring this mess out. Toronto, whose Dwane Casey might not be safe now that Bryan Colangelo isn’t in charge of the basketball operations, could be added to the mix. Memphis, as crazy as it might seem, could later be shopping for a new coach because it didn’t sign an extension with coach Lionel Hollins and won’t begin negotiations under the playoff run is over.

The Suns will need to fend off other teams to get their man. And they must sell themselves to do so.

“It’s a competition,” McDonough said.

Teams still in the playoffs

Though there are now four NBA teams in the playoffs, a number of very good candidates remain busy. San Antonio Spurs coach Mike Budenholzer, who is from Holbrook, Ariz., is one name that could be appealing to the Suns. The Indiana Pacers have Brian Shaw on their staff, a longtime candidate to become an NBA head coach. And the Miami Heat have assistant David Fizdale still coaching under Erik Spoelstra.

Part of the issue is being considerate of the teams still in the playoffs.

McDonough said most NBA teams have been kind enough to grant Phoenix permission in speaking with coaching candidates, but it’s always a chore to avoid stepping on toes with coaches currently under contracts elsewhere.

And 1

Last night, Michael Schwartz and I discussed the fifth overall pick, and though we have no idea what the Suns will do, we do think that Victor Oladipo would fit the bill.

Others apparently agree. Jeff Goodman and Matt Moore of CBS have the Suns picking the Indiana shooting guard with the fifth pick in their updated mock drafts (they have the Suns taking North Texas forward Tony Mitchell and Kansas center Jeff Withey with the 30th overall pick). So does ESPN’s Chad Ford in his 3.0 mock draft (Insider required) for 2013. Ford has North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock going 30th to the Suns.

Draft Express has Otto Porter falling to Phoenix at fifth and Kentucky shooting guard Archie Goodwin going 30th.

  • Ty-Sun

    Of all the mock draft predictions that I’ve seen that were made after the lottery (and there are a lot out there!), the only thing that all of them agree on is that Cleveland will take Noel with the 1st pick. The one thing I’m certain of is that none of them have it right past the first few picks. I’m not hopeful that the Suns get any specific player with the 5th pick, only that whoever they do select turns out to be a valuable contributor to the team. An unexpected all-star would be great but it’s unlikely… unless McD turns out to be better than we thought and sees something in one of this year’s draft class that no one else does.

    I’m glad the Suns aren’t rushing to get a new head coach. Sampson and the existing crew should be able to handle the draft workouts.

  • Scott

    I don’t mind Oladipo coming to the Suns. He loves to play – that’s what fuels his motor – and it sounds like if coaches challenge him to develop some part of his game, he’ll take up the challenge. So that’s a great, coachable attitude and work ethic.

    Now that the Combine is done and the draft order has been determined, next up is who is coming to the Phoenix for tryouts?

  • bill.thomas

    It seems pretty clear that, assuming no trades, we’ll get either Porter or Oladipo at the 5th only if Orlando takes Burke with its pick. Orlando’s need is at PG, and its hard to see them taking Oladipo with Afflalo, a very similar player, already there.

    However, a few mock drafts have Orlando taking McLemore or Oladipo with its pick, which would mean in all likelihood, Noel, Porter, Oladipo and McLemore will all be off the board at 5. This leaves us in a quandary, as Burke clearly addresses our sole area of lack of need, and at this time (pre-workouts), there is almost nothing to choose from to decide amongst several somewhat lesser players who would still be on the board.

    I do not envy McDonough’s position if Orlando chooses to pass on an obvious area of need to take the “best player available.”

  • Ty-Sun

    Best possible scenario for the Suns…

    Because Orlando wants and needs a point guard, they actually trade down to get the #5 pick from Phoenix to get Burke and the Suns get the #2 pick this year. The Suns surely will have to sweeten the pot to make that deal happen but if the cost isn’t to high then the Suns should consider it.

    New Orleans is projected to take Burke with the #6 pick in many mock drafts if he’s still on the board so Orlando can’t trade down farther than the Suns and be sure to get Burke.

    If Orlando doesn’t call the Suns with an offer then the Suns should call them with an offer.

  • Scott

    BTW, perhaps to no one’s surprise, Cleveland has indicated they’re open to trading the #1 pick.

    Where I’d most like to see the Suns get extra picks, if possible, would be in the 10-18 range.

    Players I expect to go there include: Zeller, MCW, Schroeder, Adams, Franklin, Dieng, Adetokunbo and Saric, and possibly Goodwin.

  • bill.thomas

    Does MCW have any relation to MWP?

  • Scott

    Let me put Snell in that list instead of Franklin.

    @bill. -

    If the Suns take MCW, let’s hope he’s more closely related to MVP. ;)

  • Scott

    I’d like to nominate DJ Stephens for the Suns Summer League team. I’m sure he’ll be invited to someone’s SL team, so I doubt the Suns will get him, but he’s basically a more athletic Tucker without a jump shot, and someone to keep an eye on.

    Projecting as a defensive wing in the NBA (he played PF in college), he’s about 6′ 6″ and 194 lbs. with a wingspan of 7′, and he’s got the highest verticals on record (40″ standing, 46″ max). Accordingly, his lone offensive move is to catch and stuff, and as DX says, his offensive repertoire redefines the word “raw.”

  • A-Game

    A bit out of context, but GM McDonough came right out and had a press conference with the media, right after the lottery!!! Wow!!! If lance blanks was still here, we’d be all waiting a few days, if not, weeks, for him to come out and speak…shoot, and maybe then lon babby would be the one doing the presser not he.

    Definitely a fresh of breath air IMO!!

  • bill.thomas

    @Ty-Sun: That’s an elegant solution for the draft issue, but I wonder who the Magic might want from our roster.

    If Blanks were still under contract, maybe we could ship him there to help their front office, along with our 30th.

  • Daniel

    CJ McCollum would be ideal for the Suns. We should just trade down to get him and a few other assets that come along with trading down. He is basically at the same level as McLemore and Oladipo (if not better) and fits with the Suns need of scoring consistently.

  • bill.thomas

    Why don’t we get Hillary Clinton, she will fight her way over ANY screen !!!!

  • THEDRAGON!!!!!

    Daniel, I agree. McCollum has big potential. He has a higher points per game average than mclemore and Oladipo. He averages 23 points per game, shoots 49 percent from the field, and 53 percent from 3 point range, now that is what I call potential. He would be great next to Dragic.

  • BCrayZ

    Will Alvin consider coming back?

    After all, the guy who fired him is now gone.

    This move would not only potentially reduce Sarver’s cost, but be a huge boost to the chemistry of the team, especially with Gogi, Dud & Frye.

    MUST reunite that former bench unit. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • http://none Keith

    Stay pat. Take Oladipo if he’s there or Porter/Mcelmore if either fall. If none of those three, take McCollum. Boll.

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