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Report says Jazz's Jeff Hornacek now the "front-runner" for Phoenix Suns head coaching job

Published: Saturday, May 25 2013 10:20 p.m. MDT

Jeff Hornacek, Utah Jazz assistant coach, picks up a ball during warmups before the Utah Jazz face the Los Angeles Lakers in NBA basketball played at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, Friday, April 1, 2011.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

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Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday night that Jazz assistant coach Jeff Hornacek is the "front-runner" to become the next head coach of the Phoenix Suns.

"Hornacek met with new Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and president Lon Babby in the past week in Phoenix," Wojnarowski wrote. "No offer has yet been extended to Hornacek, but the Suns' search process could be completed within the next week, league sources said."

Hornacek, who later went on to play for the Jazz, was a fan favorite during his time in Phoenix (1986-92), and was the team's most emotional loss in a trade that brought eventual MVP and Hall of Famer Charles Barkely to the Suns.

Hornacek had been linked to another former team's coaching vacancy. The Philadelphia 76rs have also reportedly been interested in the former shooting guard, but the Suns have quickly moved into the forefront for his services after hiring McDonough away from the Boston Celtics.

McDonough didn't mince words when citing the qualifications he sought in a new head coach.

"The most important thing to find in our head coach is someone who is a leader," he said. "We need someone who commands the respect of the players, commands the respect of the entire organization. We also need someone who is a teacher, who can help our young players develop and get better and maximize their individual talent.”

Hornacek appears to fit those qualities, having spent much of his time in Utah working with the Jazz's younger players, particularly their perimeter players.

The Suns boast several players in that category, including former North Carolina standout Kendall Marshall, who had a subpar rookie season.

Hornacek, a one-time All-Star and two-time 3-point shootout champion, still maintains a home in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Matt Petersen is the Sports Web Editor for DeseretNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheMattPetersen.

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