Suns hire Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov as new head coach

Suns hire Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov as new head coach

Suns hire Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov as new head coach

Associated Press
News May 3, 2018, 06:15 IST


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PHOENIX (AP) – Phoenix Suns hired Utah Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov as his new head coach.

The 46-year-old Serb becomes the first NBA coach born and raised outside of North America. He served as assistant to the Suns from 2008 to 2013, a stretch that included the 2010 Phoenix race to the Western Conference finals.

Kokoskov agreed with the Suns after the team led a long series of initial interviews followed by second interviews with what general manager Ryan McDonough called "a handful" of finalists.

Kokoskov inherits an extremely young team that compiled a 21-61 record, worse in the NBA and second worst in the history of the franchise.

He succeeds interim coach Jay Triano, who took over after Earl Watson was fired three games of the season.

In a statement announcing the hiring, McDonough said Kokoskov "has been a pioneer in his basketball career and brings a great high-level coaching experience to our club."

"He was one of the first assistant coaches not born in the United States in the NCAA and the NBA levels and his last stage as a coach include leading the Slovenian national team in the title of EuroBasket 2017, which was the first European title in the history of the country, "said McDonough. "Igor's teams have always had a focus on player development, a creative style of play and a track record of success."

Kokoskov was with the Jazz in Houston on Wednesday night, where they met the Rockets in the second game of their Western Conference semifinal playoff series. He will take over the Suns as soon as his homework with Jazz has been completed.

He is in his 18th season as assistant coach of the NBA. In addition to Jazz and Suns, Kokoskov was an assistant in Orlando (2015), Cleveland (2013-14), Detroit (2003-2008) and Los Angeles Clippers (2000-2003).

He became a US citizen on June 18, 2010, at a ceremony on the court of the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. He and his family have maintained a home in the Phoenix area since his time with the Suns.

Kokoskov was also coach of the national team of Georgia from 2008 to 2015, qualifying for the EuroBasket tournament three times.

Became the first European to hold a full-time assistant position in an NCAA Division I basketball program after he was hired by then-coach Quin Snyder in 1999. Snyder, now head coach of the Jazz, hired Kokoskov as an assistant three seasons ago.

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