The Phoenix Suns have leaned into the chaos, firing head coach Igor Kokoskov after just one season.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Phoenix Suns have decided to fire head Igor Kokoskov, who lead the team to a 19-63 record in his first season. Before joining Phoenix, Kokoskov spent 18 years as an assistant with the Clippers, Pistons, Cavaliers, Magic and the Suns, from 2008-2013. Kokoskov also previously served as head coach for the Georgian and Slovenian men’s national teams.
One could certainly look at the Suns’ record this season and deem it a failure but it seems worth mentioning that Phoenix’s two best players are 22- and 20-years-old and that, due to a combination of injuries and trades, Phoenix had 24 different players appear in a game for them this season. They began the season with veterans like Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza and Tyson Chandler in the rotation, before pivoting hard towards the youth on their team.
The Suns were bad but it’s hard to separate how much of that badness was youth, inexperience, a lack of talent, a lack of familiarity with each other or consistently shifting targets. None of those things can really be laid at the feet of Kokoskov and whatever other shortcomings he had yet to work through, again, in his first season, he would have certainly looked more successful if they weren’t working against him.
Kokoskov was a creative, outside-the-box hire, but one that was very well regarded at the time. Perhaps there are other, as-yet-reported factors here but if he’s being judged solely on the performance and growth of the team this would seem to be another woefully short-sighted move by Robert Sarver and the Suns.
The question, of course, is who the Suns think they can replace Kokoskov with that will do a better job. Reports are that they’re looking at Mony Williams but, given how the team’s recent history has played out, they’ll likely be forced to go even further outside the box.