J.J. Redick knew Kevin Young before the Phoenix Suns hired him as an assistant going into the 2020-21 season.
He played two seasons in Philadelphia when Young was on Brett Brown’s coaching staff there.
That experience is a foundation for Redick’s belief that Young is the guy to replace Monty Williams as head coach of the Suns.
“I’m a firm believer in maybe getting some new blood in there, some fresh faces in there, and so the guy for me is Kevin Young,” said Redick on ESPN’s First Take Tuesday morning with Stephen A. Smith and host Molly Qerim.
The 76ers hired Nick Nurse, who interviewed for the Suns job last week, to replace Doc Rivers. Nurse coached Toronto to an NBA title in 2019.
That eliminates one of Phoenix’s finalists for the position. Redick likes Young as a choice for the Suns.
“I’m a firm believer in maybe getting some new blood in there. The guy for me is Kevin Young.”
“(Mat) Ishbia decided to get rid of Monty Williams. So why keep someone from his staff?”#ESPN Stephen A. Smith, J.J. Redick debate Kevin Young, a candidate for #Suns head coach job. pic.twitter.com/E1f7NUEVwA
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) May 30, 2023
“Kevin has excellent basketball intellect,” Redick said. “He’s a tremendous communicator. He’s familiar with the players and a lot of this is who is Kevin Durant willing to sign off on? Who is Devin Booker willing to sign off on, who is Chris Paul willing to sign off on? To me, Kevin Young is a guy who I think will have a lot of success in the NBA as a head coach and I also believe he has the players’ backing in this case.”
Smith followed that up by talking about Lakers assistant Phil Handy as someone to consider when looking at giving someone without NBA head coaching experience a chance. Handy was on the coaching staff of the Cavaliers (2016), Raptors (2019) and Lakers (2020) when they won NBA titles.
“Plus, he’s known as a player-development guy,” said Smith about the 51-year-old Handy.
Young, 41, has been the player-development coach for Booker and Paul in Phoenix. He was elevated to associate head coach when Willie Green become head coach in New Orleans for the 2021-22 season.
Smith admitted he doesn’t know much about Young, who was a head coach in the G League for three different teams – Utah Flash (2010-11), Iowa Energy (2011-13) and Delaware 87ers (2014-16).
Young has interviewed for several NBA head coaching jobs since becoming an NBA assistant coach in 2016 in Philadelphia. Smith’s only bark back on Young is he was on the staff of Williams, who was fired two days after No. 1-seeded Denver eliminated Phoenix in Game 6 of the West semifinals.
“(New Suns team owner Mat Ishbia) decided to get rid of Monty Williams. So why keep someone from his staff?” Smith said. “Now if he was an owner there from the beginning and he picked Monty Williams and he decided to let Monty Williams go, that’s different, but he’s letting Monty Williams primarily because that’s not the guy he picked.”
Ishbia bought the Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury for a record $4 billion from Robert Sarver, who hired Williams after Phoenix had its second-worst season in franchise at 19-63 in 2018-19.
“(Ishbia) inherited (Williams),” Smith continued. “If you want to establish your own thing, why have somebody from his staff?”
Smith started the segment saying the Suns should “pursue” Ty Lue, who was an early name in the running, but is still under contract as head coach of the Clippers.
“I happen to know that the Phoenix Suns would love to have him,” Smith said. “The Clippers are not inclined to let him out of that deal and as a result, it would call on Phoenix to wait a year for Ty Lue, or to hire whether it’s a Doc Rivers or a Frank Vogel or whomever now and say, ‘OK, we’d love to have Ty Lue, but he’s not available and move on from there.”
That led Smith to suggest Rivers to become the new Suns head coach. Rivers and Vogel have been listed as finalists for the job along with Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez and Young.
The 76ers fired Rivers after losing to the second-seeded Celtics in Game 7 of the East semifinals.
“Based on a Doc Rivers compared to a Frank Vogel, even though Frank Vogel most recently won a championship (with the Lakers in 2020), the route that I would go is Doc Rivers, but I understand if thinking is a bit different at this particular moment and time,” Smith said.
Smith said there are a “plethora of people” associated with the 76ers not fond of Rivers and happy he’s no longer coaching the team and sees that as a factor in Phoenix considering the longtime NBA head coach.
“That kind of stuff plays a role in the Phoenix Suns having to make a decision as to whether or not he’s the right guy for the job,” Smith said. “Obviously, he’s known Chris Paul for years. Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, they’ve been around for a long enough time, and they have an idea of what’s best for them.”
Paul played for Rivers in Los Angeles with the Clippers.
Smith continued by noting Bob Myers stepping down as Warriors president of basketball operations and general manager and how that may factor in the future of James Jones as Phoenix’s president of basketball operations and general manager.
“Is James Jones still going to be there,” Smith said. “We don’t know what Ishbia is going to do in the days and the weeks to come. We know he wants to establish his own thing. Everybody knows Monty Williams can coach. Everybody knows James Jones has done a good job, but when you’re a new owner, you come in and you want your own people, and you want to ride with folks that you personally handpicked. If Ishbia, who appears to be that kind of guy, if that’s the route he’ll go, it remains to be seen what happens.”
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Kevin Young or Doc Rivers for Phoenix Suns head coaching job?
Source: Yahoo Sports