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Rapid Reaction: Earl Watson out as Suns head coach

Phoenix Suns coach Earl Watson watches during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The Phoenix Suns fired head coach Earl Watson Sunday.

The team has yet to win a game and has been blown out in two of their first three matchups.

Here’s some quick reaction from the recent move from the staff of 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station and

Of course, you can get more reaction Monday starting at 6 a.m. with Doug and Wolf and continuing with The Blitz with Bertrand Berry & Mike Jurecki and Bickley & Marotta. Then, Burns & Gambo will wrap up the day’s analysis on your drive home from 2-6 p.m.

Vince Marotta, Co-host of Bickley & Marotta

The Suns had lost only four games by more than 40 points in their history before last Wednesday. Through three games, they’ve been blown out by more than 40 twice, so I guess some changes were necessary.

Earl Watson gets the axe three games into his second year. But ask yourself, should he ever have been given the opportunity in the first place. The idea of a roster core made up of players not yet old enough to buy a beer coached by someone with zero experience made little sense when Watson was handed the interim keys.

One of the inherent problems in a massive, lengthy rebuild around youth is that everyone needs to be on the same page. It’s hard to stay on the same page when you’re getting your teeth kicked in every night and can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Billionaire owners aren’t patient people — and I’m not saying that as a negative. Robert Sarver made his choice, and I respect that. I just wonder what this means for the roster philosophy moving forward.

Dave Burns, Co-host of Burns & Gambo

On Friday I said that if things continued to look bleak there was no question that Earl Watson was the most replaceable part of “The Timeline.” Little did I know that 48 hours later he’d be gone. No one was (realistically) expecting a huge jump in wins this year and so in that regard firing Watson is unfair. Earl is a hypnotizing personality who got a raw deal last year when management forced him to sit Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler. It seems borderline hypocritical to encourage losing last year only to demand a completely different mindset after three games.

But there was a very fair expectation of competitiveness. Two of their first three games were two of the worst losses in franchise history. With a young team in their formative years, the bad habits developed in those moments cannot become permanent.

Most importantly, it seems perfectly clear now they never should have hired Watson in the first place and this is where the organization made it’s biggest mistake. They hired Watson without interviewing anybody else, a cursory and careless process. I certainly hope management puts more thought and consideration into who is best suited to make these young players as good as they need to be. Management needs to make sure they are talking to and paying the best coach possible. Often the Suns have skimped on coaches and head coaches in general. If you’re serious about your young pupils it’s time to get serious about who you hire to teach them.

John Gambadoro, Co-host of Burns and Gambo

So the Phoenix Suns will be on their 5th head coach since 2013.


I don’t believe that any coach can win with this team, not at this point. They are too young and lack enough talent to win. But what a new coach can do is get this team to compete, hold people accountable and develop the younger players. Earl Watson is a nice man – he wasn’t ready to be a head coach. He attempted to create an us vs them mentality​ and his message was not getting through to the players and some of his messages were just not true.

The organization starting at the top also deserves blame for having to fire another head coach. There have been a lot of bad hirings like Lindsey Hunter, Lance Blanks, Lon Babby, Earl Watson and others. Eventually you run out of people to throw under the bus. The Suns need to recognize what they are and not put unrealistic predictions out there for this team.

I embraced the timeline and building around Booker, Jackson and the first-round pick next year. Using draft picks and cap space in a year or two to build a contender. But you have to know what you are and the scary part is that some in this organization actually believed this team would be good. That is scary and a cause for divide.

Earl was over his head. He was philosophical and preached loyalty, unity, family to the players. He talked about his brother, his upbringing and that life was bigger than basketball after a recent loss. The players don’t care – they want to win. They want guidance, leadership, adjustments. They weren’t getting that. Earl preached no panic and stick together. He wanted to embrace and love but what this team needs is to fight and that is something they weren’t doing.

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