The Phoenix Suns have apparently turned once again to a former player to be their head coach, as they've asked Jeff Hornacek to come back to fill the team's opening, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Wojnarowski reports the team is just working out the details with Hornacek, and that they're already beginning to assemble a coaching staff with their presumptive head coach. The 50-year-old who played the first six seasons of his career with the Suns has kept a home in Phoenix when not working with the Jazz as an assistant coach.
As SB Nation's Bright Side of the Sun writes, hiring Hornacek would follow a tradition of hiring ex-Suns players to guide the team at particularly dark times in franchise history. After the second-lowest winning percentage in franchise history -- and lowest since the club's initial season in 1968-69 -- this certainly qualifies as a dark time. The team went 12-29 under interim coach Lindsey Hunter, who was not expected to be retained after the firing of GM Lance Blanks.
But there's hope of rebuilding through the draft, and with a first-time head coach and 33-year-old analytics-and-tape star Ryan McDonough in as the team's new general manager, the team appears to have settled on a pair of untested options with plenty of potential at the two positions in charge of setting the tone for the franchise.
The 1991 NBA All-Star has been a hot commodity at each of his former NBA stops. He's been an assistant on the Utah Jazz since 2007, where as a player he helped get them to two NBA Finals appearances. As a coach in Utah he served first as a special assistant and since 2011 has been a full-time assistant coach. And this offseason, he interviewed with the Philadelphia 76ers, where he played two seasons, for their head coaching job.
Hornacek began his basketball career as a walk-on at Iowa State, but became the team's starting point guard, setting a school record for assists and guiding the team to the Sweet 16 his senior year. He'd once again be doubted at the NBA level, selected with the second-to-last pick in the second round of the 1986 NBA Draft. But he'd prove his worth, eventually leading the Suns in scoring in the 1990-91 season. He'd be included in the trade that brought Charles Barkley to Phoenix, and spent a pair of seasons with the Sixers. He'd go to the Jazz, where he was the star shooter alongside John Stockton and Karl Malone, staying with the club through their most successful seasons before retiring in 2000. His number has been retired by both Iowa State and Utah.
Hornacek had also interviewed with the Bobcats, per Wojnarowski, while the team had looked at Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff and Lakers assistant Steve Clifford.