Suns fire Jeff Hornacek month after second-chance ultimatum

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Jeff Hornacek has reached the end of the road with thePhoenix Suns,a month after they decided to give their coach and popular former player a second chance.

The team announced that Hornacek was relieved of his duties and that an interim coach will be named by Tuesday. Yahoo! Sports, which first reported the firing, posted that Hornacek learned of his fate in a conversation with general manager Ryan McDonough on Sunday night after a loss to theDallas Mavericks-- the Suns' 19th defeat in 21 games and 14th straight on the road.

Phoenix began the season with playoff aspirations after posting records of 48-34 and 39-43 in Hornacek's first two seasons, and after the offseason signing of centerTyson Chandler.

Sources had told ESPN in late December that the Suns, despite the organization's well-known fondness for Hornacek, were forced to contemplate a coaching change far sooner than they hoped because of a slide that had dropped them to 11th place in the Western Conference. There also was a growing fear within the organization that the team was no longer responding to its head coach.

On Sunday, having fallen into 13th place at 14-35 in the 15-team West, the Suns decided the time was now to start over.

Suns assistant coaches Corey Gaines and Earl Watson will be interviewed Monday, a source told ESPN's Chris Broussard, with one of them likely named the interim head coach. The Suns promoted Watson last month to the bench as they decided to keep Hornacek, albeit briefly, in a staff shake-up that saw veteran assistants Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting fired.

For his part, Chandler has been relegated to playing for pride after quickly picking Phoenix in free agency and leaving the Mavericks in theDeAndre Jordan-or-bust scenario that left his former team scrambling at center.

Chandler said Sunday night after the loss to Dallas, before news of Hornacek's firing surfaced, that there were no regrets.

"I feel like throughout my career I've always been placed where I'm supposed to be placed," Chandler said. "This definitely has been a tough season, but I feel like there has to be some positives that come out of this."

Hornacek spent the first six years of his 15-year NBA career with the Suns, making his only All-Star Game in 1992. He played for the Jazz teams that made the Finals in 1996-97 and '97-98, losing to the Bulls each time.

Information from ESPN senior writer Marc Stein and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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