Nick Nurse, Doc Rivers, assistant Kevin Young among Phoenix Suns head coach finalists
Three of them have won NBA titles as head coaches.
The other two were head coaches in the G League.
The Phoenix Suns have five finalists – Nick Nurse, Frank Vogel, Doc Rivers, Sacramento Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez and Suns associate head coach Kevin Young – for their head coaching job, sources confirmed Tuesday night to The Republic.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweeted out that list while ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted out Nurse, Rivers, Fernandez and Young will meet the Suns for interviews “in the coming days.”
The Suns fired Monty Williams two days after their season ended with a 25-point home loss to No. 1-seeded Denver in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals. Phoenix was a fourth seed.
Rivers coached the Celtics to the 2008 championship and 2010 finals while Nurse and Vogel won it in back-to-back seasons. Rivers is close friends with Williams.
Nurse coached the Raptors to the 2019 championship while Vogel did the same with the Lakers in the Orlando Bubble in 2020.
Fernandez was a head coach in the G League for the Canton Charge (2014-16) while Young served as a head coach for the Utah Flash (2010-11), Iowa Energy (2011-13) and Delaware 87ers (2014-16).
Young also coached four games for Williams in the 2021-22 regular season, going 2-2. Williams was out after testing positive for COVID-19. The Suns won a franchise-record 64 games that regular season.
The Lakers fired Vogel after the 2021-22 season when they finished 33-49 while the Raptors and Nurse parted ways after this season. Toronto posted a 41-41 record and lost in the play-in tournament.
Two names that are not the list are Tyronn Lue and Mike Budenholzer.
After Williams was fired, Marc Stein tweeted the Suns were “expected to explore the feasibility of trying to lure” Lue away from the Clippers.
One of the NBA’s best coaches, Lue is under contract with the Clippers.
The Bucks fired Budenholzer after Miami eliminated Milwaukee in the first round of the playoffs, just two seasons removed from winning the 2021 NBA Finals over Phoenix under him. The Bucks were the top overall seed this postseason.
Nurse reportedly is a candidate for the Bucks head coach job. There are five current coaching vacancies in Phoenix, Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia and Detroit. Houston hired former Celtics coach Ime Udoka last month.
Here’s a quick breakdown of Nurse, Rivers, Vogel, Fernandez and Young and how they might fit in Phoenix.
Age: 55. Hometown: Carroll, Iowa.
Head coaching record – Regular season: 227-163 (five seasons all with Toronto Raptors). Playoffs: 41-25 (three postseasons all in Toronto).
NBA championships: One (2019). Finals appearances: One.
Suns fit? Nurse knows offense, but he’ll switch up defenses and excels in making in-game adjustments. While playing for Brooklyn, Kevin Durant gave Nurse props for his defensive adjustments and schemes. He’s also been effective in utilizing his bench.
Age: 61. Hometown: Chicago.
Head coaching record – Regular season: 1,097-763 (five seasons in Orlando, 171-168; nine seasons in Boston, 416-305; seven with Clippers, 356-208; three seasons in Philadelphia, 154-82). Playoffs: 111-104 (5-10 in three postseasons in Orlando; 59-47 in seven postseasons in Boston; 27-32 in six postseasons with the Clippers; 20-15 in three postseasons in Philadelphia).
NBA championships: One (2008). NBA Finals appearances: Two (2008, 2010).
Suns fit? Rivers is one of the most respected coaches in the NBA. That’s a good place to start in a locker room. Second, he’s the most experienced coach on the list and has a history of coaching big names and bigger personalities. There’s not a situation he hasn’t seen before. Could be a reunion with Chris Paul.
Age: 49. Hometown: Wildwood Crest, New Jersey.
Head coaching record – Regular season: 431-389 (six seasons in Indiana, 250-181; two seasons in Orlando, 54-110; three with the Lakers, 127-98). Playoffs: 49-39 (31-30 in five postseasons in Indiana; 18-9 in two postseasons with the Lakers).
NBA championships: One (2020). NBA Finals appearances: One.
Suns fit? Defensive minded coach. The Suns struggled with that in the postseason. Vogel could get them back to defending. He likes ball movement, body movement, something that could suit Devin Booker and Kevin Durant well. The Suns went more isolation ball with their two stars in the playoffs.
Age: 40. Hometown: Barcelona, Spain.
Head coaching record: Never been an NBA head coach, but Fernandez served six seasons as an assistant in Denver under Michael Malone, who coached the Nuggets to their first trip to the NBA Finals this season. Fernandez has learned under one of the game’s best. He spent this past season as an assistant in Sacramento under Mike Brown, who was the NBA’s Coach of the Year by a unanimous vote.
Suns fit? He started as a player development coach for six years (2009-16) in Cleveland after coaching overseas. LeBron James and the Cavaliers won it all in 2016. Fernandez brings those experiences into this role. He’s been part of winning teams. Fernandez may be that young, hidden gem.
Age: 41. Hometown: Salt Lake City.
Head coaching record: Never been an NBA head coach, but Young has been the associate head coach in Phoenix the last two seasons after joining the Suns before the 2020-21 season. He was an assistant in Philadelphia from 2016-20 as he and Williams were on Brett Brown’s 76ers staff in 2018-19. Young was also a head coach in the G League for three different teams.
Suns fit? Young has the respect of Booker. That’s a huge checkmark. Booker not only praised him for his Xs and Os, but said Young “has been a big boost” in his career. He’s been a candidate for several NBA jobs. So the league is saying he’s ready to be an NBA head coach.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Nick Nurse, Doc Rivers among Phoenix Suns head coach finalists