In fact, many players that were popular on the court and come back as head coaches don’t always make the grade. Hornacek figures he won’t fall into that category because of the successful styles of coaching he learned from two of the best in Cotton Fitzsimmons and Jerry Sloan with the Suns and Utah Jazz.
Hornacek knows it’s going to depend on the players the Suns give him and how he’s able to get them to work together to produce for his team in a major way. Drafting Alex Len and trading for Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler will help, but it’s obviously a process that will take some time. Hornacek isn’t taking over a team that had success.
The Suns were 25-57 last season, good for the second-worst record in franchise history, but Hornacek doesn’t want to coach a Suns team that’s not in the playoffs.
To him, that would be totally unacceptable. Hornacek wants to be a tough coach like Sloan was. He wants to take some of enthusiasm and confidence-building Fitzsimmons was able to share as a coach and blend them together in an effective way. He’s always been a well-liked player because he could usually produce, but Hornacek realizes he’ll only be a well-liked coach if the Suns win.
How successful they are in Hornacek’s first season could set the tone for the rest of his coaching career.