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Getting to know Phoenix Suns assistant coach Jay Triano

Canada coach Jay Triano gives directions to his players during a FIBA Americas Championship semifinal basketball game against Venezuela, in Mexico City, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

One of the first things Earl Watson did after he was named the 17th head coach in Phoenix Suns history was to hire a staff. He brought on board three former head coaches — two with NBA experience — plus a wealth of knowledge, both on and off the court, to complete the player development side of the organization.

“Each coach we have here has a purpose,” Watson said. “The impact they had on my life was monumental. Without them I would not even be standing here today let alone be the person I am today. So, for me, it’s deeper than just a resume or a good coach, it’s great teachers who reach beyond the game of basketball.”


“Creativity and innovation offensively. My last year in Portland, he really drilled me every day on becoming a coach, and he always pulled me to the side. He gave me one thing every day to think about, to talk about. After every timeout during a game he would ask me what would I do to start transition my mind,” Watson said.

Triano joins the Suns after four seasons as an assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazers, including in Watson’s final season as a player in 2013-14.

Prior to his time in Portland, Triano spent nine seasons with the Toronto Raptors, where he became the first Canadian-born head coach in NBA history. He led the Raptors for three seasons from 2008-11.

Triano, who played collegiately at Simon Fraser University and was an eighth round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1981, also has an extensive international coaching background, working with USA Basketball.

Currently, Triano is the head coach of the Canadian men’s national team, a position he’s held since 2012.

What interested you about joining the Suns?

“Earl and the management team. I like what I see with the young players. Earl was a guy that played in Portland and we kind of shared a lot of basketball back-and-forth when he was there. His career was winding down. I just think that the young players that are here and the direction that this franchise wants to go, I want to be a part of it.”

What is your strength; where are you going to best help the team?

“I was in charge of the offense a little bit when I was in Portland and when I was coaching in Toronto, our teams were always (ranked) in the top half of the league offensively, so I think that; but just the general knowledge. I’m an ex-head coach. Earl is a young head coach so just to be here to have ideas for him if he has any questions. I mean, he’s very capable, he’s very knowledgeable of the game, he’s got a great rapport with the players and he’s a leader from his playing days but sometimes it’s nice to have, with Ty and I, a couple of guys that have been in the same seat before. That was kind of my role with Terry Stotts as well in Portland.”

Away from the basketball court, what are your other interests?

“Pretty much basketball. I’m a huge baseball fan, though. I’ve been to probably 10 Diamondbacks games already. Any time I get a chance to go, I’ll go. I love baseball. I’m a Blue Jays fan from the time in Toronto, so I like watching baseball, but it’s sports. Sundays are all about football. I’m slowly becoming a Cardinals fan. I seem to cheer for the teams that are in my area. Bills when I was Toronto and Seahawks when I was in Portland that was the closest (NFL team). I’ll become a Cardinals fan, for sure.”

This is part one of a four-part series. Wednesday, we introduce Tyrone Corbin.

Follow Craig Grialou on Twitter


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