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Jeff Hornacek Fired by Suns: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek talks to an official in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in New York. The Nets won 94-91. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press
Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2016

The Phoenix Suns fired Jeff Hornacek on Sunday night, ending his tenure as head coach with a 14-35 start to the 2015-16 NBA season.

Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical first reported Hornacek's departure and that general manager Ryan McDonough fired the coach after the Suns' 91-78 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The Suns later confirmed the 52-year-old's exit.

Hornacek went 87-77 in his first two seasons at the helm for the Suns and failed to make the playoffs. Improvement was expected in 2015-16, but even with the Western Conference in decline, Phoenix struggled to a 14-35 mark. The Suns' loss to Dallas was their 19th in their last 21 games, and they now sit 13th in the Western Conference.

Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver shared this chart of the team's record this season, and it doesn't look pretty:

Whispers regarding Hornacek's job security, or lack thereof, first came to light following a Dec. 26 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, who previously had just one win to their credit. Per ESPN.com's Marc Stein, Hornacek acknowledged the team had hit rock bottom after that defeat.

"Obviously, it's probably a low point for us," Hornacek said. "Now the confidence is lacking."

Shortly after the loss to the Sixers, the Suns fired assistant coaches Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting, at which point the writing was seemingly on the wall regarding Hornacek's future with the team.

Hornacek enjoyed a remarkable 14-year career as a player with the Suns, 76ers and Utah Jazz, and he had a three-year stint as an assistant coach with the Jazz before the Suns hired him in 2013.

His on-court success never quite translated to excellence on the sidelines, but it can be argued the front office should share as much of the blame for the Suns' poor form.

"Hard to see how this is his fault, though," Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post said of the coach.

After Phoenix came within one game of the playoffs in 2013-14, the team made a number of head-scratching moves, including trading away Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas, and sending Marcus Morris to the Detroit Pistons, creating turmoil with his twin brother, Markieff.

D.J. Foster of Fox Sports can't believe Morris outlasted his Suns coach:

The Suns' struggles may not have been entirely Hornacek's fault, but since making a coaching change is usually the quickest and easiest way for a franchise to shake things up, he ultimately took the fall.

With Hornacek now out of the picture, the focus shifts toward finding a coach capable of making the playoffs with the current roster and perhaps a few tweaks along the way.

Bleacher Report's Howard Beck reported in December that Golden State Warriors assistant Luke Walton would be high on the Suns' wish list in the event of a Hornacek firing.

Walton is likely the hottest coaching commodity out there, though, which means the Suns may have to dig deeper.

There is no question Phoenix is a talented team, with the likes of Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler in place, but the combination just hasn't worked to this point.

A new coaching voice on the sidelines and in the locker room may be the key to making things click, so it is difficult to argue with the organization's decision to move on from Hornacek after three disappointing seasons.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter. 

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