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Getting to know Phoenix Suns assistant coach Marlon Garnett

One of the first things Earl Watson did after he was named the 17th head coach in Phoenix Suns history was 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.”


Garnett also holds the title of player development coordinator. The Suns player development staff includes long-time college assistant Scott Duncan, former Villanova standout Jason Fraser and Mehmet Okur, who played 10 seasons in the NBA including seven with the Utah Jazz where he was teammates with Watson in 2010-11.

“I built my team (of coaches) the way I would pick players to go play 5-on-5 for a whole year,” Watson said. “My biggest free agency class was my staff.”

Garnett joins the Suns after most recently working in video and player development with the San Antonio Spurs.

A former NBA player who appeared in 24 games with the Boston Celtics during the 1998-99 season, Garnett continued his professional career overseas with clubs in Turkey, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Iran, Puerto Rico and Slovakia.

Garnett had a noteworthy collegiate career at Santa Clara where he spent three seasons as a teammate of Suns Ring of Honor member Steve Nash.

What interested you about joining the Suns?

“The biggest thing is the potential of a young team. I felt like from the player development standpoint I could have a fingerprint with the little bit of experience that I’ve had being in San Antonio last year and then my playing career. But another one that weighed really heavy was the fact that Earl was here as the head coach. I’ve known Earl since he was like 17, 18 years old when he signed at UCLA because I’m originally from Los Angeles. We’ve known each other for a long time, but what’s interesting is that over the course of all these years that have past it wasn’t like we hung out a ton. It was just kind of a mutual respect. So, when he reached out to me I was right in the process of maybe staying in San Antonio, but I just felt like I wanted to come here and help him with the development and just assist him in the best way I can to make sure that not only we’re successful collectively as a team, but also to bring that friendship and to have that trust from him to be able to help him out.”

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

“Most of it is going to be, I think, the player development side; like the day-in, day-out activities with the guys. We did something that was brilliant where each assistant coach is going to have a handful of the guys as far as the development, so it’s not like one person having that whole responsibility of all 15 guys. That way we can be more efficient and more effective. The majority of my role will be on the player development side. But as far as the assistant coaching side, again, it goes back to helping not only Coach Watson but the whole coaching staff. I did look at the schedule and I have, I think it’s like 15 scout games, so that part of it, as far as scout games, will be that little bit of layer, surface of the assistant coaching responsibilities.”

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

“When I walk out of these doors, my family is very important to me. I’ve been married for 15-plus years. I have two young girls, 10 and 7. Just the other day I took them to Dave & Buster’s and that’s what really brings me joy is to see the smiles on their face when they’re riding their bike or they’re going swimming or they’re playing their video games, so I spend the majority of my time outside of here with my family, but I enjoy exercising. One of my hobbies is shooting pool. I’m a movie buff. I love going to the movies, all kinds of different movies.”

This is part four of a four-part series.

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