Charles Barkley, former Suns GM Ryan McDonough slam Suns after firing of Igor Kokoskov

Barkley called the Suns a 'dumpster fire'
Posted at 2:28 PM, Apr 23, 2019

A former Phoenix Suns star and a former Suns general manager are among those who have slammed the Phoenix Suns' decision to fire head coach Igor Kokoskov on Monday night.

The Suns went 19-63 during Kokoskov's first and only season at the helm. In May, the Suns made Kokoskov, a native of Serbia, the first European-born head coach in NBA history. But on Monday night, Suns general manager James Jones said "after extensive evaluation, I determined it is best to move in a different direction with our head coaching position."

Former Suns star Charles Barkley is not a fan of that decision.

"They fired the coach after one year. I don't think it's fair," Barkley said during the NBA on TNT on Monday night. "They got a very young team. They had a bunch of injuries. I don't know what kind of coach Igor was going to be, but I don't think you should fire a coach after one year. I just don't think that's fair."

When Shaquille O'Neal suggested Barkley should become the Suns' new president of basketball operations, Barkley emphatically declined. "I'm not jumping on no dumpster fire," he said.

On Sirius XM radio on Tuesday, Ryan McDonough, who hired Kokoskov but was fired as Suns general manager by owner Robert Sarver just days before the 2018-19 season began, echoed Barkley's sentiments.

"Business as usual for the Suns, unfortunately," he said. "Obviously I'm probably a little big biased with that opinion, but Igor Kokoskov's a good coach and a good man."

McDonough noted Kokoskov won a gold medal as Slovenia's head coach at EuroBasket 2017.

"Now, if you get fired 11 months after you're hired, and you have a young team with young players, you probably didn't have a great opportunity to develop those players, maximize them and their potential," he said. "So, like I said to begin this segment, it's business as usual in Phoenix. I still live here in the Valley and people here are upset by it, but I would also say they're not surprised by it."

Kokoskov's replacement will become the Suns' fifth head coach since 2016. The Suns fired Jeff Hornacek in early 2016 and Earl Watson in 2017. Jay Triano was the Suns' interim coach for most of the 2017-18 season.

The Suns are reportedly looking to hire Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Monty Williams as Kokoskov's replacement. The Los Angeles Lakers are also reportedly interested in Williams for their head coaching vacancy. Williams served as head coach of the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans from 2010-15, posting a 173-221 regular-season record and and a 2-8 playoff record during that time.

The Suns haven't advanced to the playoffs since 2010, the longest postseason drought in franchise history. They have posted an 87-241 record in the last four seasons and haven't won more than 24 games in any of those seasons.