Suns Announce Complete 2016-17 Coaching Staff
The Phoenix Suns announced Head Coach Earl Watson’s coaching staff on Wednesday, naming Jay Triano associate head coach, Tyrone Corbin and Nate Bjorkgren assistant coaches, Marlon Garnett assistant coach/player development coordinator, and Scott Duncan and Jason Fraser player development coaches.
“As a family we are excited with the additions we have made into our program,” said Watson. “Each coach possesses a unique passion to teach, and the chemistry of our staff is as important as the structure of our roster. We are very lucky to have this creative group assembled.”
Triano comes to the Suns following four seasons as an assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazers including in Watson’s final season as a player in 2013-14. Formerly the head coach of the Toronto Raptors from 2008-11, Triano was the first Canadian-born head coach in NBA history. Prior to his three seasons as head coach of the Raptors, he was an assistant coach with the team for six seasons from 2002-08.
In addition to his NBA coaching experience, Triano is head coach of the men’s national team for Canada Basketball, named to the position in 2012. For Triano, who led Canada to a silver medal finish at the 2015 Pan American Games, this is his second time as the head coach of the Canadian men’s national team after also holding the position from 1999-2004. In 1999, Triano led Canada to silver at the Tournament of the Americas to qualify for the 2000 Sydney Olympics where the nation placed seventh.
Between his tenures with Canada Basketball, Triano worked with USA Basketball as an assistant coach on the 2010 USA National Team that won gold in the FIBA World Championship over host country Turkey. Triano also served as an assistant coach for USA Select teams that trained against the national teams in 2007 and 2008, and as head coach of the Select Team in 2012. Triano has also served as a coach with Basketball Without Borders in Istanbul (2008), Senegal (2010), Slovenia (2011) and Australia (2011).
Triano, who played collegiately at Simon Fraser University where he was later head coach, played for the Canadian national team for 11 years from 1978-88 and was team captain from 1981-88. A native of Tillsonburg, Ontario, he represented Canada as a player in two Olympic Games (1984 and 1988), serving as captain in each. Following his playing career at Simon Fraser, Triano was selected in the eighth round of the 1981 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Corbin returns to Phoenix where he played in 107 games and averaged 8.1 points over two seasons with the Suns as a player from 1987-89. Combining nearly 30 years of experience as an NBA player and coach, Corbin spent parts of five seasons as a head coach with the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings. Most recently, he served as an assistant coach with the Kings before being promoted to interim head coach for 28 games in the 2014-15 season.
Prior to his time as a coach in Sacramento, Corbin spent four seasons as head coach of the Jazz, finishing with a winning record in two of his three full seasons at the helm. He led the Jazz to the playoffs in 2011-12 just missed the postseason in 2012-13 despite posting a 43-39 record. Joining Utah’s coaching staff in 2004, he spent seven seasons as an assistant before succeeding Jerry Sloan as the team’s head coach in the 2010-11 season. Corbin served as either an assistant or head coach for all of Watson’s three seasons as a player with the Jazz from 2010-13.
A 16-season NBA veteran as a player, Corbin averaged 9.2 points and 4.7 rebounds over 1,065 career games with nine teams. The DePaul product and Columbia, S.C., native was initially selected with the 35th overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. His best statistical season came in 1990-91 when he averaged a career-high 18.0 points as well as 7.2 rebounds in 82 games with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Corbin originally joined the Suns along with Kevin Johnson and Mark West as part of trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the trade deadline in 1988. After playing parts of two seasons with Phoenix, he was selected by the Timberwolves in the NBA expansion draft.
Bjorkgren remains with the Suns after spending last season as assistant coach/player development coordinator with the team. He has also served as head coach of the Suns’ teams at NBA Summer League in each of the past two years, going 9-4 overall after a runner-up finish in 2015 and a semifinal appearance in 2016. Bjorkgren joined the Suns after four seasons as a head coach in the NBA Development League, leading the Bakersfield Jam, then the Suns’ affiliate, to a 34-16 record and Western Conference Semifinals appearance in 2014-15. Overall, he registered a 126-74 (.630) record as a head coach in the D-League.
A native of Storm Lake, Iowa, Bjorkgren played collegiately at Buena Vista University where he led the Beavers to their first conference title in 21 years in 1997. Bjorkgren’s ties to Arizona predate his time with the Suns as early in his coaching career he served as the head coach of Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek from 2004-07. The recipient of Arizona state high school coach of the year honors in 2005-06 and regional coach of the year honors in 2004-05 and 2005-06, Bjorkgren led the Falcons to the Class 4A state tournament in each of his three seasons with the school.
Garnett joins the Suns after most recently working in video and player development with the San Antonio Spurs. A former NBA player who appeared in 24 games with the Boston Celtics during the 1998-99 season, Garnett continued his professional career with clubs in Turkey, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Iran, Puerto Rico and Slovakia before his playing career came to an end in 2013.
Originally from Los Angeles, Calif., Garnett had a noteworthy collegiate career at Santa Clara where he spent three seasons as a teammate of two-time NBA MVP and Suns Ring of Honor member Steve Nash. Garnett teamed with Nash to help the Broncos to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 1995 and 1996. Following Nash’s departure, Garnett averaged 17.4 points as a senior in 1996-97 to earn West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors and give a Santa Clara player the award for the third straight year after Nash had won it the previous two seasons.
Duncan joins the Suns after spending the past six seasons as associate head coach at the University of Wyoming. With more than 35 total years of experience as a college basketball assistant coach, he has worked with programs that have advanced to postseason play in 22 of the last 29 seasons. In addition to his most recent tenure at Wyoming where he helped the Cowboys to a Mountain West tournament title and NCAA tournament berth in 2014-15, Duncan has worked as an assistant coach at UCLA, Oregon, Clemson, Washington State, Northern Illinois, Fresno State, New Mexico and Cleveland State.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Duncan graduated from the College of Wooster where he lettered two seasons as a basketball player with the Fighting Scots.
Fraser remains a player development coach with Phoenix after joining the organization in this position prior to last season. Before joining the Suns, he spent the 2014-15 season as an assistant coach alongside Watson with the Austin Spurs of the NBA D-League.
A standout player at Villanova from 2002-06, Fraser left the school ranked fifth on the all-time blocked shots list (172) and 22nd on the all-time rebounding list (637). As a junior in 2004-05, he helped the Wildcats to their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1988, then as a senior in 2005-06 contributed to Villanova’s Big East regular season championship and Elite Eight run in the NCAA tournament. After his collegiate career, Fraser played professionally overseas and for the Harlem Globetrotters before returning to Villanova as director of student-athlete development. The native of Amityville, N.Y., was named a McDonald’s All-American in 2002.
The Suns have also retained Chris Darnell as video coordinator and added Jason Tilton and Julian Mills as assistant video coordinators. Darnell, a former player at William & Mary, has spent the past four seasons working in video, player development and basketball operations with the Suns. Tilton joins the Suns after two seasons as director of basketball operations at Long Beach State, and brings experience on the staffs at St. John’s and Cal State Fullerton as well as a video coordinator with the Los Angeles Clippers. A graduate of UCLA, Tilton worked as a team manager with the Bruins during Watson’s playing career at the school. Mills most recently spent the 2015-16 season as a video intern with the Golden State Warriors. A former player at Baker University, he has also gained experience working with the San Antonio Spurs and USA Basketball.
In addition to the team’s coaching staff, the Suns have added Quinton Sawyer as assistant athletic trainer/sports science coordinator. Sawyer joins the Suns following five seasons as athletic trainer for the men’s basketball team at Michigan State. A native of Camden, N.C., and graduate of the University of North Carolina, Sawyer also possesses experience as a college athletic trainer at Campbell, Southeastern Louisiana and with the Tar Heels.