Earl Watson fired as Suns head coach three games into 2017-18
Oct 22, 2017, 2:54 PM | Updated: 10:13 pm
(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Earl Watson is out as the Phoenix Suns’ head coach just three games into the 2017-18 season, the team announced Sunday.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the change, and John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station confirmed it.
Gambadoro reported earlier Sunday that owner Robert Sarver met with Watson on Sunday afternoon, though it was not clear what that meeting entailed.
Just got a text from @Earl_Watson he says “I wish them nothing short of greatness.” https://t.co/CL8up8xq3d
— doug franz (@doug987FM) October 22, 2017
The Suns have already found their interim coach as Gambadoro reported that assistant Jay Triano will take over coaching duties.
The team has since confirmed the move.
Phoenix also parted ways with several of Watson’s assistant coaches.
Sources: Suns dismissed three assistants w/ Earl Watson – Nate Bjorkgren, Mehmet Okur and Jason Fraser. Okur/Fraser were player development.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 23, 2017
Suns had 8 coaches now down to 4 after the house cleaning.
— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) October 23, 2017
Triano, 59, was the Toronto Raptors’ interim head coach in December 2008 and was hired full-time for the next season. He went 87-142 over nearly three full seasons there. Most of Triano’s experience has come with the Canadian National Team, which he’s led from 1998-2004 and from 2012 to present.
He was hired by the Suns before last season after spending 2012-2016 as an assistant with the Trail Blazers.
Phoenix entered the year expecting to take its fair share of losses and committed to the development of the young core, but a three-game losing streak to begin the season included a franchise-record 48-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on opening night.
The Suns fell, 132-130, to the Lakers on Friday and loss Saturday, 130-88, to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Watson went 9-24 as interim coach in 2015-16 after taking over for fired coach Jeff Hornacek. Last year, he led the Suns to a 24-58 record, partially taking the hit as the Phoenix front office decided to shut down Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight in favor of playing its young talent following the All-Star break.
The 2001 second-round pick played in the NBA from 2001-2014 before taking on an assistant coaching job with the Austin Spurs of the San Antonio Spurs’ D-League team.
He was hired on as a Suns assistant in the summer of 2015, joining Hornacek’s staff to develop its point guards, specifically Eric Bledsoe.
Before the news broke of Watson’s parting with the team, Bledsoe tweeted “I Dont wanna be here.”
I Dont wanna be here
— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) October 22, 2017