When it comes to the Phoenix Suns’ coaching search, Tom Chambers doesn’t have a horse in the race. But as a former player who spent five years with the organization and currently works as a Fox Sports Arizona analyst, the four-time All-Star definitely has an idea of who he’d like to see on the bench next season.
Chambers was a guest of Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Friday and was asked to give the names of a few candidates he thought would make for a great hire.
“A guy who has played in the NBA, a guy who has been on the bench and had some experience, so obviously a Brian Shaw comes to mind,” Chambers said. “He’s been out there for a long time and should’ve gotten the job in Los Angeles instead of Mike Brown. Obviously with Mike D’Antoni coming in late, he would have done a tremendous job there.”
Shaw, a first-round draft pick of the Boston Celtics in 1988, played 14 seasons in the league and won three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers (2000-02). Following his retirement in 2003, Shaw made the move to the Lakers’ bench, where he served as an assistant under Phil Jackson and Rudy Tomjanovich from 2004-11. During his tenure in Los Angeles, the team won two titles.
As Chambers mentioned, Shaw was considered the favorite to fill the Lakers’ head coaching vacancy when Jackson retired at the end of the 2011 Playoffs, but the team elected to hire Mike Brown instead.
For the past two seasons, Shaw has served as the Indiana Pacers’ associate head coach.
While Shaw has been a popular name in NBA circles of late — interviewed with Charlotte, Orlando and Portland last summer — Chambers said he knows another candidate the Suns should consider for the position.
“One name that always comes to my mind who was a coach of mine even though he wasn’t a coach on the court was Jeff Hornacek,” said Chambers. “He was spectacular, played in the league and was an All-Star in the league.
“I believe firmly that if you’ve done it and you’re asking these kids today to do something you’ve already done, it’s an easier task. Jeff came from a coaching family, he’s always been a coach, he had to always work to hone his game…He knows what hard work is all about.”
Hornacek has strong ties to the Valley, having been drafted by the Suns in the second round of the 1986 draft. The sharp-shooting guard played six seasons in Phoenix before being shipped to the Philadelphia 76ers in the trade that sent Charles Barkley to the Suns before the 1992-93 season.
The former Iowa State standout played 14 years in the league and made two appearances in the NBA Finals with the Utah Jazz in 1997 and 1998. The two-time All-Star retired in 2000 but was hired by the organization as a special assistant in 2007-08. He became a full-time assistant on Tyrone Corbin’s staff beginning in February 2011.
On Wednesday, Arizona Sports 620’s John Gambadoro wrote that he thought new general manager Ryan McDonough’s short list of candidates included Shaw along with experienced assistants Mike Budenholzer, Kelvin Sampson and Quin Snyder.
When asked about it on Burns and Gambo Thursday, McDonough wouldn’t confirm or deny who he had interest in.
“Those [four coaches] are all good names,” said McDonough. “The short answer is yes [we’re looking at a framework based on guys like that], but the longer answer is we are looking at other guys as well.
“We’re open to all kinds of coaches, guys who have had success whether it be at the head coaching level, the assistant coaching level. We’re really just trying to evaluate all of them and prioritize that now.”
While McDonough said the hiring process started during his initial interview for the GM job, Chambers had one piece of advice for the 33-year-old exec: focus on those who have had success as a coach and as a player.
“When you can interview a Brian Shaw who was with Phil Jackson for all those years or a Jeff Hornacek who was with Jerry Sloan for all those years and also played the game at a high level, I start with people like that.”