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Suns name Hornacek head coach

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.

"It's like coming home," said Hornacek, a second-round pick in 1986.

The Suns should be busy in the offseason, having hired general manager Ryan McDonough from the Boston Celtics to assemble and further develop a core of young talent. The team holds the No. 5 pick in next month's draft.

The last time Hornacek had input on personnel moves with the Suns it was merely accidental. He shared Tuesday that during the 1992 playoffs, he told Phoenix general manager Dick Van Arsdale to consider trading for Charles Barkley.

"They shipped me out of here for Charles," Hornacek said of the trade that went down months later. "We joked about it several times today, that I was part of trading myself."

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," McDonough said. "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 of his 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.
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