The Phoenix Suns are reportedly down to three candidates for their vacant head coaching position.
Former Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel, former Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers and the Suns’ associate head coach under Monty Williams, Kevin Young, are finalists, according to Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s John Gambadoro.
The Suns appear unlikely to hire Sacramento Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez, who was reported to be a finalist last week, Gambadoro said.
He added the Suns could make a hire by the end of this week.
ClutchPoints evaluated the three candidates.
NBA record: 431-389
Previous teams: Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers
Vogel won a championship with the Lakers in 2020. He has guided stars to great success in the past, a great skill in today’s NBA.
Vogel, LeBron James and Anthony Davis won the 2020 title. James commended Vogel in public and even reportedly clapped his hands in the locker room after Vogel presented a game-plan.
Frank Vogel also coached Los Angeles Clippers star forward with the Indiana Pacers from 2010 to 2016.
If Vogel were hired, the Suns would benefit on the defensive end. Vogel’s teams have had a reputation of physical play, and the Lakers were the top-ranked defense in 2020 and 2021.
(No NBA coaching experience)
G/D-League coaching record: 134-166 (believed to be his record, assuming from his coaching profile is accurate and he coached all of the six full seasons listed)
Previous teams: Shamrock Rovers Hoops (Ireland), Utah Flash, Iowa Energy, Delaware 87ers
NBA assistant coach: Philadelphia 76ers (2017 to 2020), Phoenix Suns (2021 to present)
Young is perceived to be a strong candidate in this search. He reportedly has the backing of key members within the Suns’ organization and Booker.
Young, who was the associate coach for the Suns in the last two seasons, has received interest from other teams. The Houston Rockets reportedly requested an interview with him for their coaching search. Suns point guard Chris Paul and others have commended Young’s competitiveness in press conferences.
Paul called him an “unbelievable coach” during the 2020-21 season.
However, Young is yet to coach in the NBA. He coached in the NBA G/D-League for six seasons, something that preceded his ascension to the 76ers’ staff.
The G-League is different since players are looking to improve their own NBA status. Still, Young’s teams finished below .500 in three of his six seasons as coach. His teams did not make the playoffs four times.
Young may very well secure this job. But he will have to answer questions about his ability to coach in situations that Williams struggled in.
The other two candidates have won championships, something Young would have to do with the Suns to ultimately prove himself.
NBA record: 1,097-763
Previous teams: Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers
Rivers is the most experienced coach of this trio. He won a title with the Celtics in 2008 and put Boston in championship contention in 2010 and 2012, respectively, when they lost in seven games in the NBA Finals and then lost to James and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals in seven games.
He most recently coached with the 76ers, who lost to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals in seven games.
Rivers has been one of the most successful NBA coaches this century, but he has struggled with closeout opportunities in his career.
The 76ers’ season ended in Game 7 losses in each of the last two seasons. Rivers has also lost 3-1 leads three times in his coaching career, most recently with the Clippers in the 2020 Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets.
The Suns fired Williams after the team suffered blowout losses that ended their season in 2022 and 2023. Rivers is 16-33 in closeout games as a coach, which is why he may not receive this job.