NBA: D'Antoni Heads To The City That Never Sleeps, Whats Next For The Suns?

Ian ZymarakisSenior Analyst IMay 11, 2008

Now that it has been made pretty much official, Mike D'Antoni has left the Phoenix Suns and has signed on as the head coach of the New York Knickerbockers for a reported four-year deal at $24 million.

D'Antoni looks to turn around a franchise that has been on the decline for pretty much five years now.

D'Antoni leaves behind a team in Phoenix that is getting older by the day but can still run when they want. They do, however, have a player that seems to be on his last leg in Shaq.

So what's next for the Suns?

Where do they turn for their next head coach?

Do they turn to a more defensive-minded coach or a coach who fits the same style of play the current Suns enjoy?

Here are some options I feel the Suns will choose among for a future head coach.

Eddie Johnson

The Suns' color commentator could be given a chance to interview due to his vast knowledge of the game. EJ never passed up a shot during his playing days and would definitely fit the Suns' up-tempo style.

The problem is his lack of coaching experience. The Suns could sign him on as an assistant and groom him for the future.

Dan Majerle

One of the valley's favorite athletes of all time could also be in consideration for an interview. Majerle, like Johnson, has literally no experience in coaching and could just be placed as an assistant for the future.

Like EJ, Majerle enjoys the offensive end, but he does know a thing or two about playing defense. That is something the Suns need.

Paul Westphal

The former Suns coach from the 1992-93 season could be brought back, as he comes from a style the Suns are used to. He also coaches the defensive end as well.

The Suns could go in this direction if there aren't many other options. Westphal would most likely be a longshot for the job, but he should definitely be considered.

Avery Johnson

Avery could get a lot of consideration from the Suns. He would also fit the Suns' style.  I don't necessarily want to see him come to the Suns, but I think the Suns will take a look at him.

Johnson enjoys the offensive end, but he also emphasizes the defensive end. His problem in Dallas was that nobody wanted to play defense.

Doug Collins

He is good friends with GM Steve Kerr, and he seems to be a coach that Kerr would want. Collins has said he isn't interested, but he might change his mind if Kerr comes calling, which I think he will.

Paul Silas

A former Suns assistant, Silas could be a longshot for the job but might get a phone call from Kerr asking about the position.

Silas would definitely bring out the best in Amare, as he brought the best out of Barkley during his time in the valley. Barkley has always talked about how he loved Silas for it.

Tom Thibodeau

The current Celtics assistant seems to be the hottest candidate who isn't a head coach in the market right now. He interviewed with the Suns to be an assistant to D'Antoni, but D'Antoni chose Jay Humphries.

Kerr didn't approve of that move, but he went ahead with it anyway. Thibodeau is a defensive minded coach, but maybe that is what the Suns need to be a championship team.

Alvin Gentry

He could be the No. 1 candidate for the Suns right now. Because he is currently a  Suns assistant coach, Gentry could come in for a lot less money than a high-profile coach. He also comes in with the same mindset as D'Antoni, which might be something the players would enjoy, especially for practices.

Kerr might decide to go in a different direction because he might not want a D'Antoni prototype running the team. Still, Gentry will be given consideration.

Steve Kerr

Yes, you read right. I believe Steve Kerr could ultimately express interest in the job and try to persuade upper management to give him a chance as coach. This is my darkhorse pick, but I think it could happen given Kerr's ego and his belief that he could succeed at anything he does. It wouldn't be the first time the Suns had a GM/Head Coach, the last to do this was Mike D'Antoni.

The Suns have a long summer ahead of them in their search for a new head coach. Do they go offensive-minded like D'Antoni, or do they look for a slower approach with a defensive mind?

This will be an interesting summer in the valley of the sun, one that could change the way basketball has been played here for over four years.

Maybe that's what the Suns need after all, a change of pace, a change of attitude.

More importantly, they need attitude and to play some defense.