Report: Suns fire head coach Igor Kokoskov after just one season in Phoenix

Yahoo Sports Contributor
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The <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/phoenix/" data-ylk="slk:Suns">Suns</a> saw all they needed to see from Igor Kokoskov this season. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
The Suns saw all they needed to see from Igor Kokoskov this season. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)

The Phoenix Suns have apparently opted for a fresh start with their head coach. Again.

Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov was fired late Monday night after just a single season in Phoenix, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Suns went a Western Conference-worst 19-63 during Kokoskov’s lone season.

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The first coach to be born and raised outside the U.S. in NBA history, Kokoskov’s hiring was announced less than year ago to replace Earl Watson. While the Suns’ season saw Devin Booker continue to ascend to stardom and Deandre Ayton immediately look like the team’s big man of the future, it also saw five different losing streaks of more than five games and some friction between their stars.

Still, the Suns were apparently prepared to bring Kokoskov back for another, hopefully more successful season.

So, what happened?

Why did the Suns fire Igor Kokoskov?

It’s hard to defend anyone’s job security after failing to break 20 wins in a season, but giving up on a coach after the first season of his NBA career when you weren’t even planning to be competitive that year is a somewhat puzzling decision for Phoenix.

One possible reason why the Suns opted to give Kokoskov the boot: Wojnarowski reports that the Suns already have plans to target Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Monty Williams as a replacement. Williams is a hot name in this season’s coaching carousel, though the Suns will have competition for him with at least the Los Angeles Lakers.

Perhaps the team was also inspired by the neighboring Arizona Cardinals’ firing of Steve Wilks.

All eyes now on draft lottery for Suns

The Suns are now searching for their fourth coach (one interim) in three seasons, and quite possibly the biggest factor in the team’s surprise coaching search is where they place in the upcoming draft lottery.

Finishing the season behind only the New York Knicks in the race to the bottom of the NBA, the Suns are tied for the best odds in the lottery along with the Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers and are guaranteed a top six pick:

  • No. 1 pick odds: 14 percent

  • No. 2 pick: 13.4 percent

  • No. 3 pick: 12.7 percent

  • No. 4 pick: 12 percent

  • No. 5 pick: 27.8 percent

  • No. 6 pick: 20 percent

Obviously, hitting on that 14 percent chance would be a franchise-changing turn of fortune, as it would allow the Suns to pick Zion Williamson. However, there are also rumors that the team would prefer to end up with Ja Morant, so who even knows what this team is doing right now.

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