Suns make staffing additions, changes after Summer League performance
The Phoenix Suns added five and promoted three Thursday to complete their basketball operations staff.
Corey Gaines was promoted to assistant coach after five years as a player development assistant, and Nate Bjorkgren and Earl Watson were brought on, also as assistant coaches. Taking Gaines’ place at player development assistant will be Jason Fraser.
Bjorkgren served as head coach during NBA Summer League after a season as head coach of the Suns’ D-League affiliate, the Bakersfield Jam. Gaines, Watson and Fraser were his assistants in Vegas and under them, the Summer Suns went 5-2 and finished runner-up to the Summer League Champion San Antonio Spurs.
Bjorkgren has Arizona ties as well – he led the Cave Creek Cactus Shadows Falcons to the 4A state tournament in each of three seasons as head coach from 2004-07. He was the Arizona state high school coach of the year for the 2005-06 season and regional coach of the year for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.
Watson played under three NBA Coaches of the Year throughout his career – George Karl, Scott Brooks and Hubie Brown. He also played for the Utah Jazz teams current Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek was an assistant and shooting coach for.
Last season, he coached the D-League’s Austin Spurs with Fraser, who played with the Harlem Globetrotters and previously served as a student-athlete development director for his alma-mater, Villanova.
In the front office, Mark West will become vice president of player relations after two years as an assistant coach. In all, West has spent 22 years with the Suns organization. Bubba Burrage will become director of player personnel as well as general manager of the Jam, a role he held last season along with being a pro personnel scout for four years with the Suns.
Over in Scouting, Courtney Witte, with 26 seasons of NBA front office experience, was brought on as director along with new scout Antonio Williams, who has been a field representative for Nike and an analyst for ESPN.