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AP report: Jay Triano not finalist for Phoenix Suns coaching job

Bob Baum | The Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — A person with knowledge of the situation said interim coach Jay Triano is not among “handful” of remaining candidates for the Phoenix Suns coaching job.

The person, who asked to remain anonymous because the search is ongoing, said the Suns are in the midst of second interviews “with a handful of candidates still in the mix.”

Triano served as interim coach for all but the first three games of last season after Earl Watson was abruptly fired. Triano guided an exceedingly young and injury-plagued team to a 21-61 record, worst in the NBA and second-worst in franchise history.

Phoenix has the most ping pong balls and therefore the best chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick in next months’ draft lottery.

The Suns conducted initial interviews with a wide range of candidates, including Triano.

Among those publicly linked to the job are former Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, ex-Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford, former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt and ex-Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd. Former Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer removed his name from consideration.

Azcentral (The Arizona Republic) reported that Clifford and San Antonio Spurs assistant coach James Borrego were in Phoenix for interviews last week and that team officials also spoke with Toronto Raptors assistant coach Nick Nurse and New Orleans Pelicans assistant head coach Chris Finch.

General manager Ryan McDonough has said the team is prepared to make a strong move to improve the level of talent, particularly experienced talent, to build around the young talented trio of Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren. Phoenix, once one of the league’s most vibrant franchises, has not made the playoffs in eight seasons.

Triano took over and kept the team’s effort high despite the lack of victories, working to improve the youngsters, a project that was most evident in the development of the rookie Jackson.

Born in Canada, Triano became an assistant coach with the Raptors in 2002 and was named Toronto’s interim coach after Sam Williams was fired in 2008 and eventually signed a three-year deal as coach there. He went 87-142 with the Raptors. Triano was assistant coach of the Portland Trail Blazers from 2012 to 2016 before joining Watson in Phoenix.

Arizona Sports 98.7 talk radio host John Gambadoro first reported that Triano was no longer under consideration.