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Suns give D'Antoni


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PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns have placed coach Mike D'Antoni in charge of the franchise's basketball operations in the wake of the departure of Bryan Colangelo to the Toronto Raptors.



Owner Robert Sarver announced Friday that in addition to head coach, D'Antoni will become executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager.



"Mike has been an integral part of our success and has been involved in all decision making," Sarver said. "He will now lead our basketball operations, supported by the extensive talents within his department."



The Suns also promoted David Griffin to vice president of basketball operations and former player Mark West to vice president of player programs.



The arrangement is similar to that of Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs.



"I am excited about what we are building here in Phoenix and the nucleus we presently have on and off the court," D'Antoni said. "While leading our basketball operations, my day to day focus will continue to be on coaching our players."



Sarver decided not to hire from the outside after Colangelo chose last month to leave his position of president and general manager to become general manager in Toronto. Colangelo's father Jerry continues to serve as Suns chairman as part of the agreement by the ownership group he headed to sell the franchise to Sarver.



D'Antoni was an assistant coach with the Suns before taking the head coaching job when Frank Johnson was fired 21 games into the 2003-04 season. His overall record since is 125-78, 104-38 since the start of the 2004-05 season.



His team won an NBA-best 62 games last season, earning him league coach of the year honors.



This season, despite the absence of injured all-star Amare Stoudemire and the departure of Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson, the Suns lead the Pacific Division with a 42-18 record, the fourth-best mark in the NBA.



With Steve Nash running the show on the court, D'Antoni intalled a high-scoring, up-tempo, entertaining style. The coach gleaned that style from 20 years in Italy as a player and coach.

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