The worst-kept secret in the Valley (well, aside from the local baseball manager’s recent firing) became reality on Saturday when news broke that the Suns had finally signed head coach Alvin Gentry to a contract extension, which will be finalized on Monday, according to Suns.com.
The only surprise in this was that it took until May 9 to be announced since it was such a foregone conclusion that this would be the case with management, players, fans and Gentry himself being unanimous in wanting this to happen.
The Arizona Republic is reporting that Gentry will sign a two-year, $3.7 million deal with a team option for a third year that goes into effect if the Suns win a 2011 playoff series, while Suns.com is reporting it as a straight three-year deal.
Click here to read what I think of Gentry taking over the top chair without an interim tag, and now for some more thoughts surrounding the hiring.
It’s very interesting that the D-backs just gave a man who has never even made a double switch contract security through 2012 whereas Gentry was essentially working on a week-to-week basis after the Suns fired Terry Porter.
While D-backs manager A.J. Hinch is a 34-year-old rookie, Gentry was a head coaching veteran of three different teams, two starting in an interim role, and he had been with the Suns for four-plus years before getting the head job.
That makes it amazing to me that Hinch will be starting out with a four-year contract and Gentry essentially had to prove himself at the end of last year before getting this deal.
Second off, if Paul Coro’s figures are correct, the Suns really are going to the bargain bin on this one. Flip Saunders just signed a four-year, $18 million deal with the Wizards, meaning he’ll be making more money next year than Gentry will over the length of the guaranteed portion of his contract.
Of course, with the Suns’ budget the way it is and considering they’ll be paying Porter another $4 million to not coach the team the next few years, you knew they wouldn’t be paying top dollar for a new coach. The Republic reported that the Suns lowballed Gentry so much with their first offer that he would have been the league’s second-lowest paid coach had he accepted.
Clearly the finances played a role in this being such a slam-dunk decision.
When Arizona basketball signed Sean Miller to a long-term deal worth $2 mil per plus a $1 mil signing bonus (more than Gentry will be making per year by the way), UA AD Jim Livengood basically said it was worth it despite the state’s budget crisis because you have to spend money to make money.
The Suns, however, may be getting the best of both worlds by signing a candidate who just happens to be best for the job for cheap.
Third, I find it very interesting how this news was reported, and I believe it shows the paradigm shift in how sports will be covered in the future.
I read about this news on one of my readers’ Twitter accounts, and Suns.com’s Jeramie McPeek started his second graf on the hiring story by writing, “as announced moments ago via the team’s official Twitter profile.”
Yes, we now live in a time when teams break their own news on their own Twitter accounts. I can’t wait for the rest of the offseason.
McPeek’s story also takes shots at how “the local hockey team filed for bankruptcy and the major league ball club down the street fired its manager” whereas “the Valley’s oldest professional sports franchise assured itself of some much-needed stability” with the Gentry deal.
Interesting way for the Suns to fight for the ever-shrinking entertainment dollar in this sports market.
McPeek’s story also includes copious quotes from Gentry chock full of really good stuff. The Republic piece, which contains all the requisite information and shows Coro has done his homework on the story, has no quotes as of this writing. The East Valley Tribune (are they still a paper?) is currently running the AP story on its site.
The Republic may yet score an interview with Gentry and/or Kerr today for the morning edition, or the traditional media may have to wait until next week’s press conference.
The Suns seem to be the most progressive sports franchise when it comes to using social media, Twitter in particular, and by making such a big deal out of this news breaking on Twitter, they’re clearly trying to continue that.
The team’s Twitter account then goes on to ask Nash, Shaq and J-Rich how excited they are about the news and questions some NBATV tweeters on the signing as well.
It’s a changing world out there, and Suns funs are lucky to have a head coach in @AlvinGentry who will tweet it every step of the way.