The Phoenix Suns have fired head coach Earl Watson, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Phoenix coach Earl Watson has been fired, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 22, 2017
Associate head coach Jay Triano is reportedly the favorite to replace Watson as the team’s interim boss.
Suns owner Robert Sarver and GM Ryan McDonough meeting with assistant coaches now, sources tell ESPN. Jay Triano likely interim coach.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 22, 2017
Watson has been the Suns’ head coach since February 2016, when Phoenix fired Jeff Hornacek and named Watson the interim man. The Suns formally gave Watson the head-coaching job two months later.
In total, the Suns went 33-85 in his tenure. So far this season, the Suns are 0-3 and have by far the worst point differential in the NBA at minus-30.7 per game. Phoenix’s first game of the season was a 48-point loss to Portland, the biggest in franchise history. Then, in the Suns’ third game of the season on Saturday night, the Clippers ran them off the court in a 130-88 drubbing. After that loss, forward Marquese Chriss, a franchise building block whom the Suns acquired from the Kings after Sacramento selected him with the eighth overall pick in 2016, rattled off a laundry list of issues currently plaguing the team.
Marquese Chriss was asked about team problems and said ball movement, effort, commitment to defense, defensive rotations & communication.— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) October 22, 2017
Watson’s firing was also preceded by another notable comment from a Suns player: point guard Eric Bledsoe, who sent a not-so-cryptic tweet regarding his seeming dissatisfaction with the team.
I Dont wanna be here— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) October 22, 2017
Mere hours later, Watson was reportedly out. Perhaps the Suns’ early struggles will be the catalyst for a Bledsoe trade, which has been rumored for years. It didn’t take long for his tweet to gain attention from DeAndre Jordan, who played with Bledsoe on the Clippers from 2010-13.
Come back home bro— DeAndre Jordan (@DeAndre) October 22, 2017
The Suns, who have eight players between 19 and 22 years old, are in the midst of a rebuilding effort. League-wide, there’s considerable motivation to tank this season due to the recent announcement that NBA lottery reform will go into effect for the 2019 draft, diluting incentives to lose big to secure a better draft pick. While the team was not expected to contend this season, owner Robert Sarver seems to have drawn a line in the Arizona sand that they won’t be a headline-generating embarrassment.