PHOENIX SUNS

Suns GM: Triano helping himself; McDonough makes up with Dragic

Jan 10, 2018, 5:06 PM | Updated: 7:44 pm
Phoenix Suns head coach Jay Triano and guard Devin Booker smile during the second half of an NBA ba...
Phoenix Suns head coach Jay Triano and guard Devin Booker smile during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)
LISTEN: Ryan McDonough, Suns GM

After the Phoenix Suns fired coach Earl Watson three games into the 2017-18 season, general manager Ryan McDonough made two things clear.

Among them:

1. He would install Jay Triano as interim coach until the end of the year.

2. He regretted the previous decision to remove the interim tag from Watson and, without interviewing other candidates, hiring him as head coach before the 2016-17 season.

To assume those two facts could make McDonough wary about retaining an interim coach for the second time in a row might be, well, presumptuous.

Asked on the Burns & Gambo show Wednesday about whether he will conduct a coaching search after the season, McDonough said it’s “to-be-determined.”

“We like Jay. We think he’s doing a phenomenal job. He’s put in systems in place on both ends of the floor that have allowed our group to be successful and has really changed the way we play in a short period of time, which is not easy to do when you’re not the head coach of the team for training camp and the preseason,” the general manager said on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Triano has ushered accountability and improvement from his young players Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and even Devin Booker. With the Suns’ best player, Booker, healthy and playing, Phoenix has gone 13-16 this year after starting off 0-3 with Watson as coach.

Make no mistake: Triano’s resume of coaching in the NBA since 2002 and his role leading the Canadian National Team is far different than Watson’s single season of coaching experience in the D League before joining the Suns. Watson was only an NBA assistant for half a season before he replaced head coach Jeff Hornacek as interim.

Watson went 9-24 to finish out 2015-16 before taking the head coaching job as Phoenix won 24 games the next year.

After the Suns lost two of their first three games this season by more than 40 points, Watson was fired, putting them back on the market for a head coach.

Could Triano keep developing the Suns through the end of the year and be handed the job outright?

“I think toward the end of the season, we’ll have worked with Coach Triano for almost the whole year,” McDonough said of the coaching search ahead. “How we’ll feel, how I’ll feel in early to mid-April, I don’t know. A lot could happen between now and then. He certainly was a candidate coming into this. He’s helped himself.”

BURYING THE HATCHET

Nearly three years after Goran Dragic surprised the Phoenix Suns by asking out of the Valley, the 2015 Most Improved Player has made up with the man who traded him.

Dragic revealed on Zach Lowe’s The Lowe Post podcast that he spoke with his former boss in November when his Miami Heat visited Phoenix.

“First of all, it was never my intention to leave Phoenix like I did. It happens,” Dragic said. “I’m always going to be grateful for this organization. They are the first one that gave me an opportunity in the NBA. Ryan is right. In the end of the day it is only business. This year when we play over there, I really had a good, long conversation with Ryan and I was pleased that this is finally — you know, it’s finally over. You know what I mean? I wished them the best. I think Ryan is a good GM. I was happy we had a good conversation.”

McDonough also said he was happy to move on.

“I think what is important to realize is 95 percent of the time or 99 percent of the time he was here, we did have a good relationship,” the Suns general manager said. “The end wasn’t good and it got too public and he admits he regrets some of that, and so do I.”

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, drives as Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson defen...
Associated Press

Reports: LeBron James signs 2-year extension with L.A. Lakers

LeBron James has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension through the 2024-25 season with the L.A. Lakers,
1 day ago
Jae Crowder #99, Chris Paul #3, Mikal Bridges #25 and Cameron Payne #15 of the Phoenix Suns react d...
Kellan Olson

Initial impressions, observations from Phoenix Suns’ 2022-23 schedule

A few areas of the Phoenix Suns' 82-game schedule we can spotlight to keep an eye on throughout the regular season.
1 day ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns celebrates with Deandre Ayton #22 during the first half of Game...
Arizona Sports

Phoenix Suns’ 2022-23 schedule includes 22 national TV games

The Phoenix Suns' 2022-23 regular season schedule dropped on Wednesday highlighted by 22 games on ABC, ESPN or TNT, plus 12 more on NBATV.
1 day ago
(Screenshot/Bally Sports)...
Arizona Sports

Bally Sports+ streaming service announces launch date in September

Bally Sports announced the launch of a new streaming service for the Suns, Coyotes and regional college sports coming Sept. 26.
1 day ago
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at the start of the the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23...
Associated Press

2022-23 NBA schedule clears Election Day of games

The NBA's schedule for the coming season will have all 30 teams playing on Nov. 7, the night before the midterm elections.
2 days ago
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns and Dwight Powell #7 of the Dallas Mavericks jump for the ope...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns get rematch vs. Mavericks on opening night, per report

The Phoenix Suns' regular season will begin at home against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 19, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
3 days ago
Suns GM: Triano helping himself; McDonough makes up with Dragic