Igor Kokoskov needs to be the next Phoenix Suns head coach

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - SEPTEMBER 17: Head Coach of Slovenia Igor Kokoskov gestures during the FIBA Eurobasket 2017 final basketball match between Slovenia and Serbia at the Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul, Turkey on September 17, 2017. (Photo by Ahmet Dumanli/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - SEPTEMBER 17: Head Coach of Slovenia Igor Kokoskov gestures during the FIBA Eurobasket 2017 final basketball match between Slovenia and Serbia at the Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul, Turkey on September 17, 2017. (Photo by Ahmet Dumanli/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) /

When all is said and done, when the dust has settled and the Phoenix Suns have finished all (100? 200?) interviews, Igor Kokoskov must be the franchise’s next Head Coach.

The big name would have been Dan Majerle. The big splash would have been Mike Budenholzer. The big reunion would have been Jason Kidd. The big former star would have been Kevin McHale. The big reach would have been David Fizdale. The big unknown would have been James Burrego.

The big hire needs to be Igor Kokoskov.

For too long the Phoenix Suns have hired head coaches from their comfort zone – a seat or two to the right of the former head coach. They have rarely searched for a star head coach from outside the confines of the franchise, a guy who is not a get-along head coach, or a bridge to the next head coach, but someone who management can look to and not only believe that he will get the team over the top right away, but will also be the head coach when Phoenix finally wins it’s first championship.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

Of all the candidates still available – and potentially even of all the candidates that Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough has interviewed throughout this process – the name that now makes the absolute most sense, and much like a jingle that is a little annoying at first but soon gets stuck in your head, is Igor Kokoskov. A young (only 46), up-and-coming (never been a head coach in the NBA) current lead assistant with the Utah Jazz, a man with both playoff and championship experience in the NBA (with the Detroit Pistons from 2003-2008, the Phoenix Suns from 2008-2013, the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013-14, and now the Utah Jazz), with international head coaching experience (Slovenia won the 2017 EuroBasket gold medal), and a head coach who has been credited with developing players in the NBA such as Goran Dragic and Donovan Mitchell, there is no other coaching candidate remaining with such an up-and-coming status as well as coaching pedigree (I’m sorry, but David Fizdale’s coaching record is not quite as impressive as Kokoskov’s), which must lead the Suns to selecting him as their next head coach.

One thing that cannot be overlooked too is the fact that Kokoskov has spent time with the Phoenix Suns already, spending more time in Phoenix than any other team, save for the Detroit Pistons where he spent an equal five seasons.

That time with Phoenix is invaluable. Sure, in a way the Suns would be choosing from a couple of seats to the right of the head coach, but that would have been so if this was five years ago. He has been with the Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, and Jazz since. His time away from Phoenix does shoot down the moniker of “hiring from within.”

Not to mention, that period with the Suns is a positive one for one very particular and important reason: he has already worked for owner Robert Sarver, at a time when Sarver was at his most influential and meddling day-by-day, and is obviously not only well-enough respected by Sarver to allow him to get into the finals of the hiring process, but Kokoskov wants  to come back and would be willing  to work for Sarver once again – working with Sarver being an issue that many people believe is the central reason why neither Majerle, Budenholzer, nor Fizdale will be manning the sidelines next season.

With the Suns about to take part in arguably the most important draft in the franchise’s history, many people believe that McDonough should not only draft Luka Doncic, but target  him wherever they select. If they hire Kokoskov, then the Suns will have a legitimate insider’s opinion on Luka and will know more about the Slovenian star than anyone else in the league. Why? Well, because Kokoskov is the only coach in the NBA who has actually coached  Luka Doncic and knows the player’s game and as a man on an intimate level. Doncic will too be very young when he makes his way to Phoenix, and having his Slovenian head coach and mentor as his new NBA head coach would help create the easiest and most natural transition possible.

Working with point guards such as Dragic, Steve Nash, and George Hill, Kokoskov has a reputation of being a point guard-whisperer, so to speak, something that he has taken to Slovenia as he has helped to develop Luka’s game. Granted, the Suns should not hire Kokoskov with the intention of drafting Doncic simply because they have no idea if they will draft Luka and whoever they hire as head coach must be the best man to lead whatever roster is laid before him whether or not Luka Doncic is on it, but if they do  draft Luka, then there may not be any better head coach who can not only take him under a wing, but develop him into a superstar, potentially right away.

But putting his work with point guards and preferring the Phoenix Suns’ long-time offensive style of run-and-gun aside, Kokoskov is also a defensive whiz, not only helping to mastermind the Detroit Pistons’ defensive-minded championship in 2004, but now with the Utah Jazz, the best defense in the league today. In fact it was Slovenia’s defense that was most credited for the EuroBasket victory, even though their offense, led by Dragic and Doncic, was at an unbeatable potency.

Next: Valley of the Suns Live! the Igor Kokoskov Edition!

For 50 years  and counting, the Phoenix Suns have hoped to have a head coach who could not only keep the franchise’s run-and-gun style intact but also institute a defensive system that would allow the team to be something of a two-way franchise. Of all the coaches still available, Igor Kokoskov looks to be the best man the franchise may ever hire to perform at such a level.

It is in this one writer’s opinion that Igor Kokoskov is the right man for the job.

Igor Kokoskov must be the next head coach of the Phoenix Suns.

*Hiring Igor is something that is permiating throughout the entire Valley of the Suns, and has been the number one choice on the mind of one of the site’s most prolific opinion artists. For more opinions on why the Suns should hire Kokoskov, check out this recent post by Khaleel Abdullah.