Hornacek Returns to Suns as Coach 21 Years After Barkley Trade

Jeff Hornacek was hired as coach of the Phoenix Suns, returning to the team that took him in the second round of the 1986 National Basketball Association draft.

Hornacek, an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz the past six years, spent six of his 14 seasons as a player in Phoenix before going to the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1992 trade that brought Charles Barkley to the Suns.

The Suns had the NBA’s fourth-worst record this season at 25-57 and finished last in the Western Conference. Hornacek, 50, replaces Lindsey Hunter, who had a 12-29 record as interim coach after Alvin Gentry was fired in January. The Suns also fired General Manager Lance Blanks last month and replaced him with Ryan McDonough.

“Jeff has all of the qualities we were looking for in a head coach -- he is a leader, a teacher and a student of the game,” McDonough said in a statement. “His successes as a player and as an assistant coach, along with his deep ties to this franchise and this community, give us confidence that he will do great things as the next head coach.”

Hornacek averaged 14.5 points a game in his career, and his free-throw shooting percentage of 87.7 is the 14th-best in NBA history.

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