After only one season on the job, Igor Kokoskov was fired as coach of the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.
The timing on the dismissal of Kokoskov, the first European-born NBA head coach, was partly rooted in a desire to compete against the Los Angeles Lakers in pursuit of Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Monty Williams, league sources told ESPN.
“After extensive evaluation, I determined it is best to move in a different direction with our head coaching position,” Suns general manager James Jones said in a news release. “I want to thank Igor for his work this past season and wish him the best with his future endeavors.”
The Lakers are planning on a second meeting with Williams later this week, assuming the Sixers defeat the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday to end their first-round series. The Lakers are also planning a second interview with Tyronn Lue.
The Suns have a stable of young talent that could grow to include the possible selection of Duke forward Zion Williamson or Murray State guard Ja Morant in the upcoming NBA draft. Also, Jones played under Williams in his time as a Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach, and new senior VP of basketball operations Jeff Bower hired Williams as head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans in 2010.
Kokoskov is considered a superior offensive teacher of the game but fell victim to a roster devoid of point guards and organizational dysfunction that has turned the franchise into a coaching graveyard. Kokoskov started three rookies in 36 games this season, with the Atlanta Hawks the next-highest team in games starting three rookies, with four.
The Suns’ next coach will be their seventh in an eight-season span.
Since 2012-13, the Suns are 199-375, tied with the Orlando Magic for the worst record in the NBA in that span.
ESPN’s Stats & Information contributed to this report.