Jeff Hornacek: The Iowa State Speculation Can Stop For Now

Jun. 3, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek addresses the media at a pre-draft workout. Mandatory Credit: Gerald Bourguet-Valley of the Suns
Jun. 3, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek addresses the media at a pre-draft workout. Mandatory Credit: Gerald Bourguet-Valley of the Suns /

When it became inevitable that the Chicago Bulls would fire Tom Thibodeau after their second round playoff defeat, many believed Fred Hoiberg from Iowa State would be his replacement.

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Even though the only head coach to fall in the domino effect to that point had been Monty Williams of the New Orleans Pelicans, Ken Berger of CBS Sports revealed that many believed the Cyclones would target Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek as Hoiberg’s potential replacement.

So when Thibodeau got fired last week, many wondered if Hornacek would be tempted to jump ship for his alma mater. Even after Hornacek stated his commitment to the Suns, the questions kept coming once Hoiberg officially accepted the Chicago job. Once again, Hornacek denied any plans of leaving Phoenix for Ames, Iowa.

Thanks to a report from Chris Williams of, we have even more evidence to support what Hornacek had been saying all along.

According to Williams, Hornacek turned down a meeting with the Cyclones following Hoiberg’s departure for the NBA:

"Hornacek’s camp declined, as according to a source, he has no interest in the job."

However, that’s when things got interesting. In the comments section, someone claiming to be Hornacek’s agent Steve Kauffman wrote:

"We represent Jeff Hornacek. Rarely do I post but I will simply say this story is inaccurate. Jeff loves his alma mater and the facts are simply wrong here."

That Kauffman account responded to another comment in the same thread, writing, “Under contract is key. School knew they had to request permission in a certain manner from the Phoenix Suns. I do not wish to allocate the blame as to the parties at fault here. But it’s a shame.”

On an update to the article, Williams informed his readers that after two follow-up calls with his source, he stands by his report that Hornacek turned down the meeting. Kauffman has not responded to Williams’ attempts to reach him.

Perhaps the “no interest” phrasing in the report is what got Kauffman riled up. That part of the report does seem inaccurate, since Hornacek even stated, “It would be an honor and it’d be fun to coach your alma mater” last Friday before refuting the rumors that he’d be leaving the Suns. The interest was clear; Hornacek was simply more interested in staying in Phoenix.

On Tuesday, Hornacek once reaffirmed his desire to help the Suns with their current rebuilding process, saying, “Ryan [McDonough] and I came here for a purpose. We’ve got a good young crew that we can build with. We’ll work on getting some more veteran guys to help them but we’ve got a job to do here and that’s our plan.”

No matter the particulars of Hornacek’s level of interest in the Cyclones job, if Williams’ report is to be believed, he turned it down anyway. Just as importantly, the Cyclones are getting close to finding Hoiberg’s replacement, according to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix:

This means one of two things. First, the overwhelming evidence suggests that Hornacek will not be coaching his alma mater for the 2015-16 season. On the other hand, the Suns still need to address Hornacek’s contract situation before anyone can say with complete certainty that Iowa State isn’t in his future down the road.

It wouldn’t be the first time Hornacek replaced Lindsey Hunter as a better long-term fit for the team’s head coach.

Entering the final year of his three-year contract with the team, Hornacek’s lame duck situation creates some tension heading into the 2015-16 season. The Suns are coming off a very disappointing year, but it was only a year prior that Hornacek finished second in Coach of the Year voting.

For the time being, we can finally rule out the possibility of Hornacek coaching his alma mater next season. But until the Suns give Hornacek an extension, or at the very least pick up the fourth-year option on his deal, we can’t completely rule it out later on down the road either.

Next: Jerian Grant: Phoenix Suns 2015 Draft Profile

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