It seems that front offices around the league have taken note of the Utah Jazz’s success. More importantly, how they have created such success: their elite coaching staff. It was only a matter of time before we started hearing rumors of one of Quin Snyder’s assistant coaches being poached from him. It appears that Igor Kokoskov could be the first one to leave the nest. Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that Igor Kokoskov has interviewed with the Phoenix Suns for the head coaching vacancy in land of the sun.
Utah Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov recently interviewed for the Phoenix Suns coaching vacancy, league sources tell The Salt Lake Tribune— Tony Jones (@tribjazz) April 21, 2018
This is something that a lot of us have been keeping an eye on throughout the season. Phoenix seems like a logical landing spot for Igor, for a number of reasons. Igor would have a chance to put his mark on a young team and instill a good culture. One of the biggest roadblocks to this is the terrible ownership headed by Robert Sarver. Robert Sarver has managed to chase Jeff Hornacek out of town and then promote Earl Watson to head coach then use him as a scapegoat for their front office buffoonery. Is that the type of environment most coaches can—or want—to deal with? No. But Igor isn’t your typical coach.
Igor Kokoskov has seen how the Utah Jazz have built their culture. If there’s anyone who can implement the Snyder way in Phoenix it is Kokoskov. Don’t dismiss a possible Slovenian team connection, too. Igor coached the Slovenian team over the summer to a Eurobasket title. That put him on the map in NBA coaching circles as he bested a Spanish team featuring the Gasols and Ricky Rubio. You might recognize a player who was on that roster: Luka Doncic. The Phoenix Suns currently hold the highest odds in this draft. If this isn’t signaling that they’ll draft Luka at all costs, I don’t know what is. This would reunite Doncic with Kokoskov providing the young Slovenian phenom with some familiarity and good teaching.
I honestly was rooting for Milwaukee to get Igor Kokoskov, but seeing as Milwaukee is in the midst of a playoff run, they’re not in the position to go looking for a head coach, and they could be the landing spot for Mike Budenholzer.
Actually, take that back, I’m rooting for the Jazz to try to figure out a way to keep Igor Kokoskov. He’s been a great Phil Johnson for Quin Snyder these years in Utah. If Phoenix is able to pry Igor away from Utah, they will have nabbed themselves one hell of a coach.
[Correction: Prior article referenced Igor as coaching the Serbian team and Luka Doncic as Serbian. He’s Slovenian. (h/t @theIVpointplay)