PHOENIX -- Scott Skiles stepped down as coach of the disappointing Phoenix Suns on Sunday and was replaced by assistant Frank Johnson.
The Suns, who have made the playoffs every year since the 1987-88 season, currently are out of postseason contention with a 25-26 record. They fell under the .500 mark by losing their past two games.
The 43-year-old Johnson, the first black head coach in franchise history, plans no immediate lineup changes. He said he believes the Suns need fine-tuning to turn around their season of underachievement.
''We have a base, a foundation, that Scott has laid down and we like it,'' Johnson said. ''It's very difficult to come in and make wholesale changes, and I don't think that is necessary as well.
''We've got to instill confidence; we've got to make this team feel good about themselves.''
Johnson joined the Suns on Nov. 5, 1992, when he signed as a reserve guard on a team that featured Charles Barkley inside and Dan Majerle and Kevin Johnson in the backcourt.
He played two seasons, then became an assistant coach on Feb. 20, 1997. He was Skiles' top assistant the last two seasons.
Skiles, the NBA's second-youngest coach at 37, said he and team president Bryan Colangelo reached a mutual agreement to part ways during a meeting Saturday morning.
''We just sat down like two friends and two men and discussed the state of the team, and both of us came to the same idea,'' Skiles said.
He became the team's coach 20 games into the 1999-2000 season, replacing Danny Ainge who also retired without being forced out. Skiles finished the season 40-22 and led the Suns to a 51-31 mark last season.
There were reports of friction between the intense Skiles and some of his players, but Skiles said he wasn't aware of it.
''You may have to ask the players,'' he said. ''I think clearly this season we haven't played up to our ability. We've had our moments, but most of the time we've looked relatively unimpressive out there.''
Johnson met with the players Sunday morning and discussed the transition.
The move came shortly before the Suns played the Dallas Mavericks, the Midwest Division leaders.
The Suns once were a hallmark of stability, but now are on their fourth coach in six years, something team chairman Jerry Colangelo acknowledged may be a trend in the NBA.
''Maybe it's a sign of the times,'' he said. ''I don't think it's a matter of patience. You know, we're in a 14-year streak here of making the playoffs while these changes have taken place. So through the trials and tribulations ... the challenge of dealing with the while deal, it's very difficult.''
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