Sources: Earl Watson, Luke Walton, Mike D'Antoni among Suns' targets

ByMarc Stein ESPN logo
Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Phoenix Suns will conduct a full-scale coaching search at season's end, with interim coach Earl Watson among the candidates who will be considered, according to team sources.

Sources told that the Suns plan to consider multiple candidates, with Watson among them, once they complete a sixth successive non-playoff season that began with postseason aspirations but ultimately cost the popular Jeff Hornacek his job on Feb. 1, after a dreadful 2-19 stretch that included a number of injuries.

NBA coaching sources told that Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton, former Suns coach Mike D'Antoni (who currently serves as associate head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers) and former Suns star Dan Majerle (head coach at fledgling Division I program Grand Canyon in the Western Athletic Conference) are among the names likely to feature a broad list of targets.

However, NBA coaching sources say the Suns would be considered an extremely long shot to lure Walton from his post with the Warriors.

The Arizona Republic first reported in Friday's editions that Watson is "very much in the running for the position." reported in late January that Suns owner Robert Sarver has strong interest in former two-time MVP Steve Nash for the coaching vacancy, but sources continue to say Nash is not interested in going into full-time coaching at this time.

Nash, according to sources, is not presently prepared to entertain the thought of a head-coaching position or even an assistant coach's role at this juncture, preferring to focus on fatherhood (he has three young children), his various off-court interests, the part-time consulting role with the Warriors that he took on at the start of this season and his duties as the general manager of Team Canada.

Sarver recently told The Arizona Republic that general manager Ryan McDonough will "definitely" continue as GM next season, but that hasn't stopped speculation among rival teams that Phoenix might pursue Nash to work in a front-office capacity instead.

Sarvet and Nash are ownership partners with a second-division soccer team in Spain -- RCD Mallorca -- that was purchased by a Sarver-led consortium in January. Nash serves as a board member at Mallorca, with input on all soccer decisions.

A tweet from Sirius XM NBA radio host Mitch Lawrence on Thursday identified Villanova coach Jay Wright, fresh off winning the NCAA tournament, as another prime Suns candidate, with the Republic reporting that Wright is a longtime family friend of McDonough's.

On Friday, Wright attemptedto downplay any suggestion that he's prepared to jump to the NBA. He told's Dana O'Neil: "I can say right now that, in my mind, I plan to stay at Villanova. But I also don't want to be a liar. I want to stay. I know I want to stay, but I just say I hope I can stay because I've learned from the past how crazy things can be. I hope I can stay at Villanova because this is where I want to be."