May 3, 2018 / 5:24 AM / a year ago

Suns to hire NBA's first non-American born head coach in Kokoskov

FILE PHOTO - Basketball - Spain v Slovenia - European Championships EuroBasket 2017 Semi-Final - Istanbul, Turkey - September 14, 2017 - Coach Igor Kokoskov of Slovenia reacts. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

(Reuters) - Serbian Igor Kokoskov will become the NBA’s first ever head coach born outside North America after agreeing a deal with the Phoenix Suns, the team announced on Wednesday.

Currently Utah Jazz assistant, Kokoskov will join the Suns once the Jazz’s season is complete.

“Igor has been a pioneer throughout his basketball career and he brings a wealth of high level coaching experience to our club,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said in a statement.

“He was one of the first non-American born assistant coaches at both the NCAA and NBA levels and his most recent head coaching stint includes leading the Slovenian national team to the 2017 EuroBasket title. Igor’s teams have always had a player development focus, a creative style of play and a track record of success.”

Kokoskov, 46, will replace Jay Triano, who served as Phoenix’s interim head coach for most of the 2017-18 campaign after the Suns fired Earl Watson three games into the season.

Kokoskov has spent 18 years as an NBA assistant, including the last three with the Jazz following stints with the Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Clippers.

He also coached the Georgian national team from 2008-15 and the Slovenian team from 2016-17, leading it to a gold-medal finish and perfect 9-0 record at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 for the country’s first European championship.

Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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