One of the most popular Phoenix Suns players from the franchise’s past will guide the team to an uncertain future.
At the news conference on Tuesday announcing his hiring as Suns coach, Jeff Hornacek spoke at length about his readiness for the job and the influences that will guide him.
“I’ve always felt that I’ve been a coach,” he said. “My dad was a coach, so I’ve been around basketball since I was 5 years old.”
Hornacek played the first six of his 14 NBA seasons with the Suns. He was traded to Philadelphia in the Charles Barkley deal, then went to Utah, where he found great success as the backcourt teammate of John Stockton. Hornacek retired from playing to spend more time with his family, then eased into coaching, first as a shooting instructor in Utah, then since 2011 as a full-time assistant with the Jazz.
He said his coaching style would be heavily influenced by his days playing for Cotton Fitzsimmons in Phoenix and Jerry Sloan in Utah.
“Hopefully, I can take Jerry’s toughness, Cotton’s enthusiasm and confidence-building and blend them together,” Hornacek said, “and become a great coach like some of the great coaches that have been here in the past.
“There’s been great success here over the years.”
Hawks pick Budenholzer
The Atlanta Hawks named longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer as head coach.
General manager Danny Ferry called on his past experience with the Spurs to select Budenholzer to replace Larry Drew as coach. Drew’s contract expires in June following three seasons as coach.
Budenholzer spent the last 17 seasons as an assistant with the Spurs, including the last six years as the top assistant for coach Gregg Popovich.
The Hawks said Budenholzer will continue serving as the Spurs’ top assistant until the end of the NBA Finals. The Spurs capped a four-game sweep of Memphis in the Western Conference finals on Monday night.
Ferry came to the Hawks last year after two years as vice president of basketball operations for the Spurs.