Former Austin Spurs assistant Earl Watson named Phoenix Suns interim coach

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Following the firing of Jeff Hornacek on Sunday night, the Phoenix Suns have promoted assistant coach Earl Watson to interim head coach. The news was first reported by Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.

Though the Phoenix Suns are pretty much in tank mode, Watson has the task of trying to turn around the effort and culture on a team that has lost 19 of its last 21 games.

Watson’s coaching career began last season in Austin as a member of Ken McDonald’s staff. The former point guard retired after 13 seasons in the NBA, where he played for seven teams in that span, including the Thunder, Blazers and a team formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics.

The 36-year-old Watson was seen as a natural leader and coach on the court. It also doesn’t hurt that he played under the likes of George Karl, John Wooden, Hubie Brown and Jerry Sloan. He was never the most gifted athlete or player, but mentally, Watson held an advantage over a majority of players on the floor.

“I’ve always been the smallest player, and for me to last 13 seasons in the NBA, I had to be a coach on the court,” Watson told Spurs.com’s Lorne Chan in an interview last season. “I wasn’t going to outplay or outshoot other guys, so I had to outthink them. That’s been my game since the second grade, and that’s what I’ll teach.”

Watson, who averaged 6.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists for his career, will take over as head coach for the Suns final 33 games of the season after being hired to Hornacek’s staff back in July.

Watson will make his head coaching debut tonight as the new-look Phoenix Suns take on the Toronto Raptors from Talking Stick Resort Arena. Tipoff is at 8 PM CST.

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