Frank Vogel was announced as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday and spoke glowingly of the star-studded assistant coaching staff headlined by a returning Kevin Young.
After going through the interview process to replace his old boss Monty Williams, Young was retained by Vogel for reportedly $2 million a year after new owner Mat Ishbia decided the franchise needed a reset, a deal that will reportedly make Young the highest-paid assistant coach in the NBA.
“Kevin Young’s a winner. He’s a great coach and he’s going to be an NBA head coach very soon. If we would have ended up with Kevin Young, that would have been a great option, too, but Frank Vogel was the guy,” Ishbia told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday.
“Kevin Young joining us as an assistant was a no-brainer. First off, Kevin Young wants to be here in Phoenix, which is important. The players love him, we all love him and he can bring some continuity from the previous staff and leadership group to the new one. We’re not letting money stop us from being successful. … We’re not stopping for contracts and dollar amounts.”
Young spent eight years coaching in the G League with the Utah Flash, Iowa Energy and Delaware 87ers.
He interviewed for the head coaching position this offseason by the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets and Suns. In previous years, he had interviewed with the Philadelphia Sixers, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards.
Ultimately, Phoenix showed a monetary commitment to the new regime while also making an effort to keep some sort of semblance of what was previously established in the Valley.
“Kevin has incredible basketball integrity, incredible,” Vogel said in his introductory press conference on Tuesday. “Since it has been announced we were going to work together, I have had numerous people from his past reach out to me and just double down on that level of what a great guy he is, what his basketball integrity is about. I have a high level of respect for him.”
Young and Vogel have a common link: former Indiana Pacers head coach and long-time NBA assistant Jim O’Brien.
O’Brien and Vogel were both products of legendary college coach Rick Pitino. Vogel was a student manager under Pitino at Kentucky in 2004-05, where O’Brien was an assistant, and got his first coaching gig with the Boston Celtics in 2001 on a staff led by Pitino and O’Brien.
The younger Vogel followed O’Brien to a head-coaching gig with the Indiana Pacers from 2007-11 and replaced O’Brien when the latter was fired.
Young and O’Brien found themselves on the Philadelphia 76ers’ staff from 2016-20 under head coach Brett Brown.
“The fact (O’Brien) spent time with Kevin and absolutely loves Kevin gave me confidence this is going to be a partnership that really, really works,” Vogel said.
Additionally, Phoenix brought in a different former head coach in David Fizdale as an assistant on Vogel’s staff. He previously was the head coach of the New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies.
Fizdale’s deal is in the neighborhood of $1.3-$1.5 million per year, according to Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro.