With Doug Collins, Avery Johnson and Jeff Van Gundy already crossed off the list, who might be next in line to follow Mike D’Antoni as head coach of the Suns — and who might join that person on the bench?
In alphabetical order, here’s a look at the potential candidates:
• Vinny Del Negro: A close confidant of Steve Kerr’s, the Suns assistant general manager played in the NBA for 12 years with five teams, including six seasons with the San Antonio Spurs. He has been with the Suns since 2003, serving as a radio analyst and director of player personnel before taking his current position.
• Alvin Gentry: The Suns assistant could follow D’Antoni to New York or be snapped up as an assistant elsewhere. But if the Suns are looking for experience, continuity and a respected voice, Gentry is a possibility.
• Jeff Hornacek: Another popular ex-Sun, Hornacek lives in Paradise Valley and has followed the team since he was traded to Philadelphia in the Charles Barkley deal in the summer of 1992. Currently a special assistant (shooting) coach for the Utah Jazz, Hornacek has made it known he’d like to be considered for a position in Phoenix so he can stay home. He’s probably more suited to an assistant’s role.
• Eddie Johnson: An ex-Sun and current TV color analyst, Johnson has already let it be known he would be interested in the top job. He played for a lot of respected coaches during his 17-year NBA career and said he has taken the best from each to mold his own approach and style.
• Steve Kerr: Read his lips: “I’m not going to coach the team. It’s not going to happen,” he said.
• Dan Majerle: The Suns Ring of Honor member has already said he’d be interested in a position on the coaching staff, though more likely as an assistant. He spent his career playing for the likes of Cotton Fitzsimmons, Paul Westphal and Pat Riley and remains one of the most popular sports figures in the Valley.
• Tom Thibodeau: Just two weeks into his tenure as general manager, Kerr tried to persuade D’Antoni to hire the former Rockets assistant to replace Marc Iavaroni and shore up Phoenix’s defense. D’Antoni opted to hire Jay Humphries and elevate Alvin Gentry to the top assistant’s chair, while Thibodeau went to Boston and helped (so did Kevin Garnett) turn the Celtics into the league’s best defensive team. In his 18 years as an NBA assistant, Thibodeau has helped his team finish in the top 10 in team defense 15 times. He is only on a one-year deal, but the Celtics want to keep him and Chicago, the other team still looking for a coach, also is eager to speak with him. The Suns may have to dig deep to get him.