Report: Suns receive permission to interview 3 assistants for head coaching job
May 18, 2023, 6:44 AM | Updated: 6:52 am
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
The Phoenix Suns have received permission to interview NBA assistant coaches Charles Lee, Darko Rajakovic and Jordi Fernandez as their coaching search ramps up, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Phoenix has already been linked to Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, plus free agents Mike Budenholzer, Nick Nurse and the Suns’ own top assistant, Kevin Young. At this time, Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro expects the team will not heavily pursue Budenholzer or Nurse.
Rajakovic, who is on the Memphis Grizzlies’ staff, is familiar with Phoenix and served under fired Suns coach Monty Williams in 2019-20, Williams’ first season in the Valley.
The assistant was credited with bringing offensive concepts to the team led by Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr., Deandre Ayton and Ricky Rubio.
Rajakovic also is known for his player development skills, including helping then-second-year pro Mikal Bridges tweak his jump shot.
Rajakovic has experience in the G League and overseas. Before joining the Suns, he was with the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2014-19, where he notably was on staff in Kevin Durant’s final two years on the team.
Lee’s name has come up often in the coaching cycle while most recently serving as Budenholzer’s assistant for the Milwaukee Bucks. A college player at Bucknell and then overseas, he got his coaching start at his alma mater from 2012-14 before joining Budenholzer’s staff with the Atlanta Hawks from 2014-18, then following the head coach to Milwaukee.
Fernandez, the associate head coach under Mike Brown with the Sacramento Kings, coached in his native Spain and in the G League. Before joining the Kings this past season he spent 2016-22 with the Denver Nuggets. He’s been linked to the Toronto Raptors’ opening as well.