Utah Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov said he is both “thrilled” to be taking over as the Phoenix Suns’ next head coach after Utah’s season concludes and “proud” to be the first NBA head coach born and raised outside North America.
In a statement from Kokoskov issued from Utah’s official Twitter account Thursday night, the 46-year-old Serbian said he greatly appreciates the “opportunity that [owner] Robert Sarver and [general manager] Ryan McDonough have given me.”
“I am certainly proud to be the first head coach in the NBA raised outside North America and just as excited to return to the Suns organization and Phoenix, my family’s home for the past 10 years,” said Kokoskov, who served as a Suns assistant from 2008 to 2013, a stretch that included Phoenix’s 2010 run to the Western Conference finals.
“It’s a place where I was a part of tremendously talented and successful teams and I look forward to working towards a Championship,” he said in the statement.
Kokoskov agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Suns, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday, after the team conducted a long series of initial interviews followed by second interviews with what McDonough termed “a handful” of finalists. McDonough met with Kokoskov in Houston before Sunday’s Game 1 of Utah’s Western Conference semifinal series against Houston and moved quickly to make an offer, league sources told ESPN.
Kokoskov succeeds interim coach Jay Triano, who took over after Earl Watson was fired three games into the season.
Kokoskov is in his 18th season as an NBA assistant coach. In addition to the Jazz and Suns, he was an assistant with the Orlando Magic (2015), Cleveland Cavaliers (2013-14), Detroit Pistons (2003-08) and Los Angeles Clippers (2000-03).
He became a U.S. citizen on June 18, 2010, in a ceremony on the court at Phoenix’s Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.