The Phoenix Suns are one day away from a new era.
Jeff Hornacek will make his debut as an NBA head coach Wednesday night as the Suns host the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2013-14 season opener for both teams at US Airways Center.
The first-year head coach will take the court with one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams in the league — especially at the center spot.
After last week’s trade of Marcin Gortat to the Washington Wizards, the Suns are left with three post players — Miles Plumlee, Alex Len and Viacheslav Kravtsov — who have a combined 279 minutes of NBA playing experience.
Hornacek, obviously, has some concerns about the position heading into the 82-game campaign.
“I think the biggest thing for us, with our bigs especially, because we don’t have that many of them, is foul trouble,” he told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 620 Tuesday. “When you’re a young guy in this league, you tend to not get many calls. I think the NBA has done a better job of that recently, but it’s going to be tough.
“These guys, they’re not as experienced as some of the veteran players in the league and hopefully they stick to our defensive principles and on offense, that they just run it and try to execute the best they can, and it will give us a chance.”
Hornacek admitted he expected to have Gortat at center for at least a portion of the season, which obviously changes things moving forward in terms of assigning minutes.
“We didn’t expect it to happen this early, if at all,” he said. “We went through training camp just like Gortat was going to be our starting center. He showed it, he earned it in preseason.”
One thing it doesn’t change is the learning curve for the Suns’ big men.
“With Emeka (Okafor) being hurt, we don’t have to all of a sudden re-teach everything,” Hornacek said. “The guys that are here are the same guys that went through the stuff through training camp and the preseason, so we don’t feel we had to step backward in terms of the teaching.”
Okafor, a 10-year veteran, was acquired in the Washington trade, but is out indefinitely with a neck injury.