Suns fire Jeff Hornacek month after second-chance ultimatum

Jeff Hornacek has reached the end of the road as head coach of the Phoenix Suns, a month after they decided to give him a second chance.

The team announced Monday that Hornacek was relieved of his duties and that assistant coach Earl Watson will serve as the interim coach.

Yahoo! Sports, which first reported the firing, posted that Hornacek learned of his fate in a conversation with general manager Ryan McDonough on Sunday night after a loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Suns' 19th defeat in 21 games and 14th straight on the road.

Phoenix began the season with playoff aspirations after posting records of 48-34 and 39-43 in Hornacek's first two seasons and signing free-agent center Tyson Chandler in the offseason.

Sources had told ESPN in late December that the Suns, despite the organization's well-known fondness for Hornacek, were forced to contemplate a coaching change far sooner than they hoped because of a slide that had dropped them to 11th place in the Western Conference. There also was a growing fear within the organization that the team was no longer responding to its head coach.

On Sunday, having fallen into 13th place at 14-35 in the 15-team West, the Suns decided the time was now to start over.

Watson, as well as fellow assistants Corey Gaines and Nate Bjorkgren, were interviewed for the head-coaching position Monday, a source told ESPN's Chris Broussard. The Suns promoted Watson last month to the bench as they decided to keep Hornacek, albeit briefly, in a staff shake-up that included the firings of veteran assistants Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting.

In another change to the assistant coaching staff, the Suns have added former NBA head coach Bob Hill to the team's bench, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.

For his part, Chandler has been relegated to playing for pride after quickly picking Phoenix in free agency and leaving the Mavericks in the DeAndre Jordan-or-bust scenario that left the Mavs scrambling at center.

Chandler said Sunday night after the loss to Dallas, before news of Hornacek's firing surfaced, that there were no regrets.

"I feel like throughout my career I've always been placed where I'm supposed to be placed," Chandler said. "This definitely has been a tough season, but I feel like there has to be some positives that come out of this."

Hornacek spent the first six years of his 15-year NBA career with the Suns, making his only All-Star Game in 1992. He played for the Jazz teams that made the Finals in 1996-97 and '97-98, losing to the Bulls each time.

Information from ESPN senior writer Marc Stein and The Associated Press was used in this report.