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The Phoenix Suns have hired Utah Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov as their new head coach.
The 46-year-old Serbian becomes the first NBA head coach born and raised outside North America. He served as a Suns assistant from 2008 to 2013
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, a stretch that included Phoenix’s 2010 run to the Western Conference finals.
Kokoskov agreed to terms with the Suns after the team conducted a long series of initial interviews followed by second interviews with what general manager Ryan McDonough termed ”a handful” of finalists.
Kokoskov inherits an exceedingly young team that compiled a 21-61 record, worst in the NBA and second-worst in franchise history.
He succeeds interim coach Jay Triano, who took over after Earl Watson was fired three games into the season.
In a statement announcing the hiring, McDonough said Kokoskov ”has been a pioneer throughout his basketball career and he brings a wealth of high-level coaching experience to our club.”
”He was one of the first non-American born assistant coaches at both the NCAA and NBA levels and his most recent coaching stint includes leading the Slovenian national team to the 2017 EuroBasket title, which was the first European title in the history of the country,” McDonough said. ”Igor’s teams have always had a player development focus
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, a creative style of play and a track record of success.”
Kokoskov was with the Jazz on Wednesday night in Houston, where they met the Rockets in the second game of their Western Conference semifinal playoff series. He will take over the Suns as soon as his duties with the Jazz are completed.
”I think Phoenix is getting a guy who’s a terrific teacher and tactician,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said after the Utah win. ”I’ve known Igor since I was an assistant at Duke and he was a young coach touring the U.S. We have a special relationship that goes back 20 years. I’m excited for him. He’s been a terrific assistant for a long time and can’t thank him enough. We’ll try to keep him here as long as we can.”
Kokoskov is in his 18th season as an NBA assistant coach. In addition to the Jazz and Suns, he was an assistant at Orlando (2015), Cleveland (2013-14), Detroit (2003-08) and Los Angeles Clippers (2000-03).
He became a U.S. citizen on June 18
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, 2010, in a ceremony on the court at Phoenix’s Talking Stick Resort Arena. He and his family have kept a home in the Phoenix area since his time with the Suns.
Kokoskov also was head coach of the Georgia national team from 2008 to 2015, qualifying for the EuroBasket tournament three times.
He became the first European to hold a full-time assistant job at an NCAA Division I basketball program after he was hired by then-coach Snyder in 1999. Snyder hired Kokoskov as an assistant there three seasons ago.
AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this report.
Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesDespite reports to the contrary, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick maintains that he and quarterback Tom Brady are not feuding.As Brady reported for the team's mandatory minicamp after skipping organized team activities last month, Belichick let it be known that it's business as usual, via Pro Football Talk's Josh Alper: "I've always had a good relationship with Tom."The Pats coach was asked if it was good to have the reigning NFL MVP back on the field
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, which was met with a Belichickian response:Michael Giardi @MikeGiardiAsked Bill Belichick if it was good to have his quarterback here. Said it's good to have all the players here. Also...
has no interest in adding fuel to the perceived fire.There has been no shortage of drama surrounding the Patriots since聽ESPN.com's聽Seth Wickersham聽reported during last season that Brady, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft have been involved in a power struggle. And Brady himself did not bother to quiet the noise when asked in April if he felt appreciated by the team, via ESPN:After more than a decade of everything being kept close to the vest for nearly two decades, there appears to be some cracks in the foundation now as things keep leaking out. Among others, ex-Patriot Cassius Marsh called out the culture in New England by saying there's "nothing fun about" playing for the team.(You know, other than making the playoffs in 15 of the last 17 seasons and playing in eight Super Bowls
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, winning five.)Despite having to deal with the report of tensions inside Gillette Stadium, the Patriots still managed to make it to the Super Bowl last season. They lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 41-33, but Brady set a Super Bowl record with 505 passing yards.聽At this point, both Brady, 40
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, and Belichick, 66, could be nearing the end of their careers. They have been together for 18 years and put together a sustained run of success together that has never been seen before.Every relationship deals with a certain amount of conflict鈥攂ut don't expect Belichick to pile on publicly..
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