For the purpose of not having to copy/paste his name every time, I’m just gonna call him Igor? Got it? Got it.
First things first, how did this happen? According to Arizona Talk Radio Legend John Gambadoro, GM Ryan McDonough and VP James Jones flew to Houston between games 1 and 2 of the Jazz/Rockets series on Monday to meet with Igor, currently a Jazz assistant coach. That night, the Suns organization came to a unanimous decision to hire him. That’s big.
Second, what has he done to warrant the hiring? Let’s look at his coaching history. He’s been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2000, with stints coaching the Clippers (97-194 over three seasons), Pistons (284-126 over five seasons with an NBA championship in 2003), Suns (198-196 over five seasons with one lockout season), Cavs (33-49 over one LeBron-less season), and Jazz (139-107 over three seasons, including this year). He was also the head coach of Slovenia’s Eurobasket team this summer, which included draft prospect Luka Dončić. Igor’s Slovenia won the Eurobasket championship.
He’s got a great track record. One looming question remains: after coaching Dončić, whom he deemed a “future NBA superstar,” what changes will that make to the draft game plan this summer. While it seemed like Ayton and Dončić were jockeying for position, is Luka now a lock to be drafted to Phoenix?
With the Draft Lottery on May 15th, the Suns are looking to obtain the first overall pick for the first time in franchise history. I wrote an article on the history of the modern draft lottery, which you can read here, that breaks down the chances that the Suns get a coveted top pick.
McDonough’s first goal of the offseason is now complete. He said he wanted a head coach before the draft lottery, and he’s done what he set out to do.
Jazz coach Quinn Snyder gave Igor his endorsement in late April, saying that he’s told Igor for years that he’s a head coach in the NBA. Hopefully, Snyder’s intuition is right. The Suns offseason odyssey begins now.