Lindsey Hunter became the first head coaching candidate to formally meet with new Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, as the two men discussed the job on Wednesday in Chicago, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
McDonough took the GM job in Phoenix last week, and he is currently busy attending at the 2013 NBA Draft Combine (May 15-19) with the team's scouting staff. The franchise finished with the fourth-worst record in the NBA and has an 11.9 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery on May 21.
Hunter served as an interim head coach for the Suns after Alvin Gentry was dismissed in the middle of the season, and he finished the year with a 12-29 (.293) record. He received permission from the Suns to interview with the Detroit Pistons in April.
McDonough has yet to set up any formal interviews with other candidates, but he been putting out feelers for coaches including Jazz assistant Jeff Hornacek, Rockets assistants J.B. Bickerstaff and Kelvin Sampson, Los Angeles Lakers assistant Steve Clifford and CSKA Moscow assistant Quin Snyder, according to Wojnarowski.
Hunter served as a player development coordinator with the Suns prior to taking the interim head coaching job, and his selection raised a few eyebrows back in January. Dan Majerle ripped former GM Lance Blanks at the time and argued that he skipped over more qualified candidates (including himself) to put Hunter in place as the interim head coach.
Nobody really expects Hunter to return now that the franchise will be shifting to a more analytics-based approach in the front office. Dave King of Suns blog Bright Side of the Sun recently posited that Hunter doesn't fit what the new GM is looking for:
"Whether that's adjusted plus/minus, emphasizing corner threes, the value of two-for-ones," McDonough said about a future coach. "Those are just a few of the things we're going to ask our head coaching candidates about during the coaching search and I'm positive that the next coach of the Suns will understand the value of all those things."
Anyone who listened to Lindsey Hunter last spring, which I did a LOT, knows that Lindsey and analytics are not lifelong buddies.
While Hunter potentially has the leadership qualities that McDonough wants, the hard-working qualities, the toughness, Hunter just doesn't have the appreciation for analytics and the communication skills to fit McDonough's perfect profile.
When the Draft Combine ends, expect the Suns' search to intensify.