At the very least, the Phoenix Suns should hire a new head coach this offseason. Finding a new general manager may not be a bad idea either.
There’s a chance Phil Jackson will be available, and if he is, Robert Sarver should be all over it.
According to our good friends at ESPN, the Zen Master is “itching” to return from his latest hiatus. The Suns probably wouldn’t be an option if he wants to find his way back to the bench considering he’s always coached teams with more talent in two-fifths of his starting lineups than the Suns have on their entire roster right now.
But if Phil wants to follow in the footsteps of Pat Riley and Larry Bird and take the reins of a struggling franchise as is reported to be the case, Sarver should offer him the chance to do here what Riley and Bird have done for the Heat and Pacers, respectively.
Some may argue that just like great players don’t always made good coaches, what if a legendary coach doesn’t translate to the front office? That’s a fair point. But what do the Suns have to lose? Regardless of how the organization tries to spin it, there’s not a lot to get excited about moving forward, so good luck selling the Morris twins and Kendall Marshall to your fan base and season ticket holders. Getting excited about all the “assets” (aka draft picks) rings hollow too, especially if the Lakers make the playoffs. I mean, who in this class has “franchise cornerstone” written all over them?
I imagine Jackson with some sort of executive title in charge of personnel (and whatever else he wants to control) and Brian Shaw as the new head coach. Unlike Lindsey Hunter (when he took over for Alvin Gentry), Shaw has plenty of experience on the bench and the success to go with it. Plus, there’s no pressure to win now, only develop young players and convince free agents they can be successful here.
Shaw is currently Frank Vogel’s right hand man for a really good Pacers team, but was also on Jackson’s Los Angeles coaching staff when they won championships in 2009 and 2010. Shaw also won three rings playing for Jackson’s Lakers during the Shaq and Kobe era. Two years ago, the Lakers passed up on making Shaw their head coach in favor of Mike Brown, then passed on bringing back Jackson last November after firing Brown for Mike D’Antoni. Shaw recently turned down the Bobcats coaching job because, well, they’re the Bobcats.
While the Suns haven’t hit Bobcats status yet, another season or two like this and they’ll become the kind of team that gets rejected by guys like Shaw.
Draft picks aren’t the Suns’ biggest asset right now; Sarver is. He’s the one who holds the power to decide if the Suns turn to greatness to get things turned around, or continue on the path they’re on. Hopefully in the coming days and weeks, Sarver will give Jackson the chance to do for the Suns what he’s already done for the Bulls and Lakers.