May 25, 2023 - Sports

Phoenix Suns interviewing head coach candidates

A smiling man in a shirt and tie grabs the arm another smiling man in a suit.

Former NBA head coaches Doc Rivers, left, and Frank Vogel in 2017. Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Former NBA champions and up-and-coming assistants are on the list of candidates to become the Phoenix Suns' next head coach.

State of play: Multiple media outlets named five finalists for the job:

  • Former Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse
  • Former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers
  • Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel
  • Suns associate head coach Kevin Young
  • Sacramento Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez

Why it matters: The Suns have spent the past two years trying to get back to the NBA Finals after losing to Mulwaukee in 2021 but have collapsed in the second round of the playoffs in each of the two seasons since then.

  • Point guard Chris Paul just turned 38 and recently acquired superstar Kevin Durant is 34, so the Suns are in "win now" mode.

What's next: ESPN reported the Suns will interview four candidates — Fernandez, Nurse, Rivers and Young — while The Athletic's Shams Charania tweeted Vogel will also meet with team owner Mat Ishbia and general manager James Jones.

  • The Suns will meet with Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee and Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson as well, according to Bleacher Report.

Zoom in: Three of the candidates — Rivers, Vogel and Nurse — have experience leading a team to an NBA championship.

  • Nurse won it all with the Raptors in 2019 when he defeated Durant's Warriors team.
  • Rivers' Boston Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals in 2008, and he made it back two years later, losing the rematch to L.A.
  • Vogel won a championship with LeBron James' Lakers in 2020.

Between the lines: Fernandez and Young have never been NBA head coaches, but both have solid resumes and were head coaches in the G League.

  • Young joined the team in 2020 and has been Phoenix's associate head coach for the past two seasons.
  • The Arizona Republic writes that Young "has the respect" of Suns star Devin Booker, who said he's "been a big boost" to his career, and he's been a candidate for other NBA head coaching jobs.
  • Before joining Sacramento, Fernandez spent six seasons under Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone.

The intrigue: The Suns have competition to hire top coaching talent. The Bucks, Raptors, 76ers and Detroit Pistons are looking for new head coaches as well.


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