Jeff Hornacek has 'agreed to terms' with Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns and Jeff Hornacek have “agreed to terms” on a contract that will make the former Sun the franchise’s next head coach, according to multiple media reports.

Hornacek will sign a three-year deal worth slightly less than $6 million with a fourth-year team option, per CBSSports’ Ken Berger. The deal is expected to be finalized by Tuesday and potentially earlier.

The hiring will be a step toward the Suns embracing their past, which PBO Lon Babby said would be a point of emphasis for the franchise going forward after some were unhappy they chose Lindsey Hunter over favorite Sun Dan Majerle to be the interim head coach after Alvin Gentry was fired. Hornacek was drafted by the Suns and played six seasons with the franchise before being packaged in the famed Charles Barkley trade before the 1992-93 campaign.

Hornacek  has been taught by some of the best in the business as he played six and a half seasons under Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan in Utah and spent time with Suns Ring of Honor members Cotton Fitzsimmons and John MacLeod in Phoenix.

In what can be seen as both a good and bad thing, even at 50 years old Hornacek arguably will become the best shooter in the Suns’ organization before the ink dries on his contract. That tutelage should prove to be invaluable for a Suns team that lost its way as an elite shooting club last season.

The Arizona Republic’s Dan Bickley writes that this is “a comfortable hire” that “checks a lot of boxes,” but he’s worried about whether this “patron saint of walk-on athletes” can be the tough guy as well as an extremely smart and nice guy.

Hornacek’s former Suns teammate and current Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has no such qualms.

A video of Hornacek’s career highlights is below:

Tags: Jeff Hornacek

  • Matt

    While this hire didn’t blow me away, I don’t think there was a candidate out there that would. I am optimistic though. At least they didn’t bring back Hunter. Excited to see what this new GM/Coach tandem wants to do with the draft and free agency.

  • Scott

    Nice highlights. Probably had enough material to go on for a bit. :)

  • Forever is2long

    On paper it seems like an ok hire. Whether he has the leadership skills where players want to run through a wall for you remains to be seen. The newest kid on the leadership block is Mark Jackson. San Antonio’s Pop is the veteran leader. Pat Riley was a great leader. Only time will tell. However with a new head coach I hope McD makes things a little easier on Horny by ridding the team of Beasley and Gortat. let him start with a bunch of fresh pieces like Scott Brooks did with OKC.

  • Scott

    Coaches realize the Suns are going to stink next year and maybe longer. The new GM is unproven, and there have been GM / owner problems with the team since the team was bought. Even the guys who had never held a head coaching job before probably were not so interested in getting this … “opportunity.”

    I think Hornacek is the best the Suns could get, all things considered. He’s an unknown quantity as a coach, but he could easily turn out to be exactly what’s needed. I hope he and McD can put their heads together and get some good players who will mesh correctly on the floor.

    For a while now I’ve been worried that the Suns under Sarver were going to turn into something completely unrecognizable as a Suns franchise. Picking Hornacek helps prevent this from happening.

  • Tony

    I’ve always been a fan of Hornacek…, though I’m not sold on whether he has head-coaching potential or not. However, I’m happy to see the FO showing some respect to former Suns. Besides their ineptitude and arrogance, Sarver and Babby’s poor treatment of longtime Suns players and coaches over the past several years has really pissed me off. It not only illustrated how arrogant they were, but also showed a total lack of respect and class.

    With that said, with the Suns current lousy roster, it really doesn’t matter that the Suns hired Hornacek. They could hire Popovich or P.J., and it would make very little difference. Expect the Suns to be just as bad next season, if not worse.

  • Ty-Sun

    Hornacek was a 2nd round pick that had a great career in the NBA including one All-Star year. Although he never won and NBA championship, he made it to the finals twice with Utah. Everyone on this team should start out with some respect for him but it’s up to him to keep it.

    A lot of the current roster just needs to go. The Suns need a near clean slate to start the Hornacek “era”. Beasley especially needs to go. If the Suns can’t find someone dumb enough to at least offer a third round pick for him (and yes, I KNOW that there is no 3rd round in the NBA draft… but Beasley sucks so badly that trading him for a non-existent 3rd round pick would STILL be a plus), then they should just wave him and use the stretch provision on his salary to keep it from eating up too much cap space.

    McD and Hornacek don’t have to make a big splash next season to be successful. If they only win 5 more games than the Suns won this season then almost everyone will see it as positive, especially if McD cleans house and starts a youth movement.

  • suns fan in portland

    I think Horny is a great hire, probably the best we could have done. For the first time in my over 30 years as a Suns fan, I HOPE we’re just as bad next season, so we can enter the Wiggins sweepstakes. It shouldn’t be too hard to have a bad record but still be making progress, by playing our rookies and prospects…

  • DBreezy

    Looks like they’ve also added to the front office staff, hiring Wizards Dir of Player Personnel Pat Connelly and ex-Lakers asst Gm Ronnie Lester as some of the master evaluators that McD wanted. Don’t know anything about Connelly, will have to try and look him up, but Lester was previously up for the GM job here and has a good rep from what I remember.

    As for Horny I don’t have a problem with the hire. I think there is some level of fan trepidation because we individually don’t know a ton about Horny personally. He hasn’t been a commentator, blog contributor, etc and he was never the kind of guy that wore his emotions on his face as a player like a Majerle/Mark Jackson/Doc Rivers. It probably won’t change until we get to hear a lot of what he says going forward. So a little at his press conference, maybe a little over the summer and preseason, but mostly throughout the course of interviews during next season.

  • Scott

    @suns fan in portland -

    Orlando won the “worst team” derby this last season by playing primarily their talented young guys. This gives me hope the Suns could do the same if the can successfully deal away their vets.

    @DBreezy -

    I imagine Hornacek as being a lot like a cross between Jerry Sloan and Cotton in his style, but we’ll see.

  • Scott

    BTW … NBA draft 2013 workouts have commenced …

    Boston Celtics coach raves about Steven Adams of Pittsburgh after workout

    “He competed, and he showed a high basketball IQ. I think through these workouts, he’s shown maybe more skill than people realized he had during his year at Pittsburgh.”

  • hawki

    Good Luck “Horny”….yer gonna need it….not to mention lots of patience….as will us Suns fans. Always liked Hornacek.

    Pat Connelly’s older brother Tim is assistant GM for New Orleans….think he has a younger brother who also works for the Wizards….guess it runs in the family.

  • Azbballfan

    I agree, starting totally over with a new GM, new Coach and new roster is what we need

    There is a big difference between a 25 win year when you were expected to compete for the playoffs, and a 25 win year where you were expected to develop young players and look at other guys down the line

    panic rebuilding and high expectations doomed last years team.

    I think that coaches need to be given coachable players to be able to make a difference, the way you get people to run through a wall for you is to develop trust with them

    Develop a bond

    Obviously there are times where you got a hard nosed, tough guy coach machted with sensitive players

    Hopefully we can find some quiet, high character guys who Hornacek can bond with

    Not every superstar in the NBA is a loud, agressive player either

    Kevin Durant, Joe Johnson, Steve Nash, Yao Ming

    All were high character guys who led by example and never caused problems in the locker room (that i know of, anyway)

    If Hornacek cant bond with Beasley, this may be the end for him

    Someone in Memphis bonded with Zach Randolph and look how he turned out

    People thought Randolph was a lost cause before he want to Memphis.

    If i was Beasley, i would be spending every day in the gym trying to prove to the team that i belong in the NBA

    I dont think that very many players will be here come opening night 2013, it just looks to much like a fire sale is going to happen over the summer

    If the Suns were happy with last season, they wouldnt be getting rid of staff, getting a young GM and a new Coach with no previous head coaching experience in the NBA

    i would be shocked if we didnt see atleast 5 or 6 people moved

  • Elviro (Italy)

    Hi, news on the draft? In particular, our choice?
    Meanwhile, on this side of the ocean there is much talk of the possible landing of a fourth player in the NBA Italian: Luigi (“Gigi”) Datome of Virtus Roma!
    I reported the player had already long ago … in the meantime was named MVP of the Italian Championship and it seems to be sealed upon him the eyes of the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Bucks!
    Is now engaged in the semifinals of the playoffs and is dragging a team that was supposed to fail the final for the title!
    These are his statistics this season:
    On youtube you can find several of his videos especially one of his terrifying wafers made with the Italian national team against Turkey!
    Italian is my favorite player and I’d like to have your opinion about his chances in the NBA and its quality ….
    I think the Suns could use also ….

  • Elviro (Italy)

    here’s a video of Datome:

  • DBreezy


    I wouldn’t compare Z-Bo and Beas because despite his issues, Z-Bo has produced everywhere he’s gone whereas Beas has been wildly inconsistent everywhere he’s gone. Yes the staff in MEM got Z-Bo to change his game for the team and it’s been great, but as big as that was that’s a smaller task than getting Beas to change his game for the team and get his game together period. Beas still doesn’t even know who he is as a basketball player, let alone the rest.

  • john

    I trust Hornacek far more than Majerle. I, for one, am happy the Suns didn’t give Majerle the reins after Gentry lost them. It would have been an awkward move to go from Majerle to anyone else, let alone another former Sun. Moving from Hunter to Horny, no one will think twice.

    Hornacek comes from a line of coaching, he was coached well as a player (Cotton, Sloan), he was a smart player (very good production over many years despite obviously inferior physical characteristics), he was gritty, and he was successful. He has the winning formula. Time will tell if he has the ingredients in the correct proportions.

  • DBreezy

    The Majerle thing is somewhat the elephant in the room on this hire. No matter ones opinion, however you slice it the Suns ultimately hired an unproven (head coaching wise) assistant who has strong ties to the organization’s past. The hire is a direct reflection of Babby’s recent comments about mistakes being made in respecting the teams’ past and their intention to correct that.

    Resume wise, Majerle has more time as an assistant and has also done a lot of developmental work with players and run the summer leagues a few times. Horny played/worked under Cotton, Doug Moe,Fred Carter,Corbin, and of course Sloan. Majerle was under Cotton, Westphal, Fratello, Riley, Skiles, Porter, and Gentry. Pretty comparable and possibly an edge for Majerle in terms of breadth and overall quality.

    Horny went to two finals as a player, Majerle one and both were part of some big time playoff battles over the years. The Jazz and Suns each only made the postseason once during Horny and Majerle’s tenures as assistants, but the Suns got a lot further making it to the WCF and losing to the eventual champs. Also, while it’s not their call, you can’t ignore the reports that the players wanted Majerle- something Goran reiterated to a Slovenian paper last week.

    Does any of this clearly indicate which one of the two would be the best for the job? No. But it does illustrate why it will be inevitably talked about once the honeymoon on Horny’s intro fades. Especially when it’s so close on the heels of Majerle’s resignation, with Majerle still being a large sports presence in town, and the likelihood that the team will continue to struggle for awhile. Not saying it’s fair or right, but it will be there.

  • john

    I know not everyone will be with me on this and will take the stance of “you have to separate a man’s personal life from his professional life,” but the biggest thing that separates Majerle and Hornacek in my mind (without intimate knowledge of their coaching skills) is that Hornacek seems to be a man of much higher integrity and honor. Majerle is somewhat of a sleazebag (and I don’t even believe I need to throw in the qualifier “somewhat” in there).

    If he tears it up at GCU and finds his way to be a successful NBA coach some day, you all can say “I told you so,” but I don’t think Majerle is top notch head coaching material.

    And can we all drop the experience issue? Since when did experience mean anything? Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Red Auerbach, Coach K, etc etc etc, *ALL* had to be hired at some point when there were plenty of other candidates with more experience and better qualifications. Experience does not equate to greatness. Qualifications does not equate to success. Let’s drop it.

  • Ty-Sun

    While I like Majerle, I still think that he was passed over for interim HC in part because he was too closely tied to Gentry. Making Majerle the IHC would have led to expectations that he would become the HC at the end of the season and a lot of fans would have been very pissed off if he hadn’t been given the job. I don’t know whether it was Blanks’ idea to try to “clean house” in the coaching staff or not but if it was it could be one of his few good decisions. I’m just not sure if Majerle would have tried to change the style of play of the Suns or would have just tried to be Gentry 2.0. I do doubt that he would have made many changes in the coaching staff. Hornacek will probably make changes there too and bring in people he wants as his assistants.

    The Suns now have a new GM and a new head coach with NO ties to Gentry or Blanks or the old way of doing things that led to this past horrific season. If Sarver and Babby step back and don’t try to interfere with them, there is the potential for great change in the Suns’ future.

  • Azbballfan

    I am not saying that Beasley is going to become the next Zach Randolph, and yes you are right Z-Bo has produced on every team, the clippers, the blazers, the Knicks.

    I was giving an example of a player that was picked high, was thought of to be a knucklehead, and has turned it around

    I dont expect Beasley to do that, but i also thought the Suns would have released him right away too after the season ended

    I am still in favor of Beasley being cut, traded, or whatever.

    I would love for Beasley to turn it around but theres like a 99 percent chance that he blew it last season and he is out of the NBA for good

    Hopefully, Honracek can bond with our young players and incoming rookies and really get them to play hard and trust him