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NBA Roundup: Horncek comes full circle with Suns

The SportsXchange

Jeff Hornacek will begin his NBA coaching career in the same place where he took his first shots as a player.

The former Phoenix Suns draft pick and 14-year veteran was announced Tuesday as the 16th head coach in the team's history. Terms of the deal weren't announced, but a CBSSports.com report Sunday said the three-year deal is worth slightly less than $6 million. The Suns hold an option for a fourth year.

"We are thrilled to introduce Jeff Hornacek as the new head coach of the Phoenix Suns," Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said in a statement. "Jeff has all of the qualities we were looking for in a head coach -- he is a leader, a teacher and a student of the game. Jeff's name has been high on our list ever since my first interview with the Suns. His successes as a player and as an assistant coach, along with his deep ties to this franchise and this community, give us confidence that he will do great things as the next head coach of the Phoenix Suns."

Phoenix selected Hornacek with the 46th pick in the 1986 draft and he spend the first six years with the Suns. He enjoyed his finest year with in his final season with the team, when he averaged 20.1 points per game and was named to the All-Star team.

The next season, he was sent to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of a package for Charles Barkley. The 76ers were also reportedly interesting in hiring the 50-year-old for their coaching vacancy.

Hornacek played most career for Cotton Fitzsimmons and Jerry Sloan, the third-most winningest coach in league history. Hornacek spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz.

The Suns went 25-57 this season, finishing with the fourth-worst record in the NBA and second-worst in franchise history behind a 16-66 effort in their inaugural season of 1968-69.

Interim coach Lindsey Hunter went 12-29 after taking over in January for Alvin Gentry, who was fired in his fourth season with the Suns.

---San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer has been named head coach of the Atlanta Hawks.

President of basketball operations and general manager Danny Ferry made the hire official Tuesday afternoon.

"We are thrilled to have Mike as the next coach of the Atlanta Hawks. He has an incredible basketball acumen and has a keen awareness of the league and what it takes to be successful," said Ferry, who played for the Spurs under Gregg Popovich and began his NBA personnel career with the organization. "His experience and four championships over the last 17 years provide a tremendous foundation for his leadership of our team."

Budenholzer, 43, spent the past 19 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, including the final 17 seasons as an assistant coach. For the past six seasons, he has been the right-hand man to Popovich, the longest-tenured head coach in major professional sports and third-winningest coach (.681 winning percentage) in NBA history behind only Phil Jackson and Billy Cunningham. Budenholzer is the 12th head coach in Hawks franchise history.

"I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of the San Antonio Spurs organization for the last 19 years. I knew it would have to be a tremendous situation for me to leave and clearly coming to Atlanta as the head coach of the Hawks is perfect for me," said Budenholzer. "Ownership's commitment to taking this organization to the next level and creating a unique and special culture, partnering with a general manager like Danny Ferry who I have great respect for, and building a roster that has terrific potential because of the existing core and the ensuing flexibility presents a rare and uniquely positive opportunity."

Atlanta is expected to revamp a roster that made the playoffs but has only $25 million in salary committed to four players for next season. Budenhozler will remain with the Spurs for the duration of the postseason before joining the Hawks.

The Spurs are an NBA-best 908-438 (.675) in the regular season with four NBA titles (1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007) since Budenholzer joined the coaching staff in 1996. During his first two seasons, he worked as team video coordinator.

"I couldn't be happier for Mike for many reasons. As anyone who's been part of this program knows, he has been more of a co-head coach than an assistant for a long time. His knowledge of the game as well as his ability to teach and develop relationships with players are all special," said Popovich. "I will miss him a great deal both professionally and personally and am confident that he and Danny will make a great team as the future unfolds."

---The sale of the Sacramento Kings to a group led by software magnate Vivek Ranadive has been unanimously approved Tuesday the NBA Board of Governors.

The transaction is expected to close soon.

Ranadive led a group that invested more than $341 million to buy 65 percent of the team from the Maloof family, which assured that the franchise will remain in California.

A competing bid by a Seattle group including hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, was voted down 22-8 by the NBA's Board of Governors. The Maloofs had supported the relocation bid, but NBA commissioner David Stern said Sacramento had proven it was a worthy market to keep the team.

In order to assume ownership, Ranadive divested his minority stake in the Golden State Warriors. He is the first owner of Indian descent in the NBA.
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