Alvin Gentry should feel disrespected by his lack of a new contract

Suns head coach Alvin Gentry deserves a new deal, but Robert Sarver instead shafted him by just exercising his option. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

It was one thing to ask Steve Kerr to take a pay cut, but for Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver to pick up Alvin Gentry’s 2011-12 team option is a slap in the face to the man who orchestrated the chemistry-laden team that was two wins short of the NBA Finals.

The 2009-10 Suns started and ended with Gentry, and to exercise his $2.15 million option for 2011-12, keeping him among the league’s lowest-paid head coaches for the next two years, is downright pathetic.

Gentry proved to be one of the NBA’s top coaches last season and he deserves to be paid like one. But instead Gentry will be making well below the league average for a coach, which was $3.4 million last season, this year (when he earns $1.95 million) and next.

It is mind boggling that Sarver wouldn’t fairly compensate the man that saved him millions of dollars by returning the Suns to relevancy after the mess that Terry Porter left.

Gentry did it all last season, from instilling confidence in youngsters like Goran Dragic, to relating to the Steve Nashs and Grant Hills of the club.

And the simple fact that he was able to gain the respect of Amare Stoudemire and keep any tension from reaching the locker room speaks volumes about his ability to relate to his players. He is truly the perfect fit for this group.

Not one person in the organization will say anything bad about Gentry, from the interns to the owner, and that likability trickled down through his team and it showed on the court.

He made every player feel like he could go off for 40 points on any given night, which was a huge reason for career years from Dragic, Robin Lopez, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and Lou Amundson.

He developed the bench, he kept the starters happy and most importantly he kept the team loose. He gave them an identity that they lacked the season before and it paid dividends on the hardwood.

Nobody gave this team a chance, yet in his first full season as Suns head coach Gentry led the team to a 54-win season and one of the most memorable playoff runs in recent history. The simple feat of coaching a long-overdue series victory over the Spurs should have earned Gentry a new contract.

It’s easy to say that Gentry only succeeded because he fell into a situation with a ton of talent, but just think about where this team was when he took over. Porter tore apart every in and out of the Seven Seconds or Less Suns and most had the feeling that it would be a long time before Phoenix would return to relevancy.

But Gentry picked up the pieces as quickly as possible and brought the Suns back to their run-n-gun style of play with a tad of defense mixed in. Yet Gentry will still be taking less money from Sarver’s wallet than the no-longer employed Porter ($2.5 million) next season.

Yes, a man who finished fifth in the NBA in Coach of the Year voting and led his team to the NBA’s fifth-best record is making less money next season than the sorry, excuse-of-a coach who almost set the franchise back for multiple seasons. It’s mind boggling.

No, coaches don’t make the same big bucks as the players, but they can often be more integral to the team’s success (as Porter proved), and Sarver obviously failed to realize this. Gentry certainly isn’t going to disrupt team chemistry by complaining about his deal (a la Amare), but he has a right to be upset.

Heading into the offseason he was the one guy — coach or player — who deserved a new deal more than anyone else. But, yet again, Sarver chose penny pinching over fairly compensating probably the biggest reason for the team’s 2009-10 success.

It isn’t surprising from Sarver, but it’s still a disgrace. Gentry has proven to be one of the NBA’s best coaches, while being the perfect fit in Phoenix, and he deserves to be rewarded for it.

The Suns did announce that assistants Dan Majerle, Bill Cartwright and Igor Kokoskov will be getting new deals to keep them under contract through 2011-12, but Sarver forgot to pay the brains of the operation, which shouldn’t sit well with Gentry and his players.

Tags: Alvin Gentry Robert Sarver

  • john marzan

    why should he be upset? he’s lucky he was still given a chance to become head coach after so many failures in other teams.

    the sarver gambled on gentry when no other team wanted to giv him a chance and it’s paying off big time for Saver. the same way he gambled and hit the jackpot on dragic’s 4-yr contract (which at that time looked ill-advised)

    and nobody put a gun on gentry knew when he signed that multi-year contract. he knew what he was getting into.

    besides, why pay the guy a star coach’s salary now when the team will tank next season with amare not coming back?

  • John

    Mike you make a lot of great points about the lack of respect shown Gentry, but I take issue with your statement regarding Amare disrupting the locker room complaining about his contract! This guy was UNIVERSALLY praised by Gentry, Kerr, his teammates, and local as well as national media for the way he handled the trade rumors, contract talks, etc. Not once did he complain about having a ‘For Sale’ sign hung around his neck, he has never criticized our 3rd rate owner for an insult of a contract offer in February, he merely kept his mouth shut and carried us for the last 3 months of the season..Actually, the words most used by his teammates, Kerr, and Gentry were ‘classy, mature, and I’m proud of him.’

  • Kyle Fleeger


    Umm… Maybe you don't know Alvin Gentry's coaching history. When he was head coach of the Clippers he took them from the worst defense in the league to 18th the following year. He simplifies defense for players – ex. Jason Richardson and Amar'e both improved as the season went on defensively.

    2. Alvin Gentry was going to do what all the other assistants did and bail on Phoenix, he had the offer from Mike D'Antoni to go and coach in New York. LUCKY for us his family didn't want to go and his daughter actually is the main reason he stayed and worked for Porter in the first place.

    Then, when he applied for Porter's job in the first place, he was given praise by EVERY player who spoke to management. He has always been known as a funny, intelligent, players coach. He has worked for Larry Brown, Greg Popovich and Mike D'Antoni. He has defensive and offensive pedigree like few coaches in the league.

    3. He is the reason players want to stay here. Amar'e even said this season that Alvin Gentry is one of the main reason the Suns were the favorite to re-sign him. Grant Hill played for less money and said he will retire a Suns player.

    If we do re-sign Amar'e, it will be in large part because Al found a way to make Amar'e content getting 15 shots a game, and benched him when he needed to send a message. Alvin Gentry is a class-act. We are lucky to have him.

    He could use a more strategic defensive assistant.

    I don't understand why everyone assumes Amar'e is leaving. He is the best offensive big-man in the NBA. Look at his efficiency. If you don't think Amar'e can play on ANY team in the NBA and take 25 FG's and lead the league in scoring, you are misguided. He is the NBA LEADER in true shooting percentage…. THAT'S ACTIVE LEADER FOR A CAREER! .(607)

    He learned defense for the first time last year and EVERYONE praised him for coming a long way in one season. Your giving up on greatness way too soon. He said we are the favorite to sign him and he doesn't give a crap about Steve Kerr leaving.

    Go Amar'e!

    Boo @johnmarzen

    also, yes porter makes 2.5 million next season with the Suns. Great chocie Steve Kerr.

  • Brandon

    I suppose Gentry could be a bit slighted for not receiving a raise. Then again he’s only been coaching with 1.5 seasons. Then again he did take this team a deep as its been since 93′.

    Its not surprising though considered the owner. Sarver is cheap, plain and simple. He runs this franchise like he won’t be able to eat if they don’t cut everywhere possible. Maybe Alvin can earn a raise mid season, which i have to say will be hard considering Amare will be gone and I seriously doubt Sarver will step up and go after Dirk or a suitable replacement. On a side note I don’t think Amare should get max money but Sarver owe’s it to Nash and Hill to put the best squad out there given the commitment they’ve showed to this franchise.

    Its really sad as a die hard fan to have an owner like this. Living in Bakersfield, Ca I’m surrounded by Lakers fans, you’d think this city was Brentwood or Hollywood. However I still support Phoenix, I even popped for decent seats to WC Finals game 1 to watch the Suns. I used to think of catching a quick flight to Phoenix and watching a home game at US Airways, I can honestly say there is no way I would really consider doing that now simply because I would not want to add to Sarver’s income when we won’t spend to put the best product on the floor despite my love for our Suns, its really a shame.

    Here’s to a new owner…which won’t happen anytime soon…i have a sad feeling we are in for a long new few years…..

  • Mel.

    Kyle, I totally agree with your STAT assessment, but the question doesn't seem to be whether or not Phoenix needs him… but whether or not he's worth a max contract.

    Your points are excellent. The dude's a beast, and still improving, and we wouldn't have gotten anywhere near the heights we skimmed without him… but is there a precedent to lock the guy down at twenty million a year until he's 34?

    I just don't see that. But again, you're right; if he stays and settles for a reasonable deal that satisfies his expectations and gives the Suns some wiggle room in the case that his injuries cause premature wear and tear, then it'll be because of Gentry. All Kerr really did for STAT was shopping him around like a used Hyundai.

  • ILoveTaint

    Amare and Frye need to stay and we need to keep our 1st round picks starting next year and I think this team will do well with a line up led by Goran, Amare, Lopez, Dudley and Clark.

  • stg63

    Are we STILL paying Porter? It could be that sort of experience is weighing on Sarver’s mind.

    I think Sarver wants to see how the Suns are doing – with or without Amare – by mid-season. If the team is still rocking under Gentry, then he might consider providing a more favorable contract.

  • The Z. Man

    Sarver does not deserve this team.

    Alvin must swallow his pride and try to make Sarver, along with help from Nash, keep the rest of the guys, once STAT has gone.

    Frye, Louis, Barbosa, Dud & Gogi can beat any team’s best. They have proven that. MUST not trade our Brazilian Blur. KEEP Frye & Louis from walking away. Then, the Suns will have a good shot at lots of wins. Another top 4 seed in the West?

    MUST start and also finish with LB. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

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  • john marzan

    @Kyle Fleger yer a BIG lier, d'antoni NEVER offered alvin gentry any position in NY. so basically, gentry was stuck in phoenix.

  • Kyle Fleeger


    I think you are right, I would be a little worried about signing Amar’e until he is 34 years old, but if we are sign Amar’e to a 5 year contract (which is what he was asking for) at 100 Million dollars, we will have him only until he is 32 years old. That is the predicted prime of an NBA player and Amar’e could see some Grant like longevity from missing team with different types of injuries.

    All in All, I do think Amar’e is a MAX contract player. He is worth it in revenue based on fans, in monetary value based on the additional games we play in the playoffs when we have Amar’e, and in actual basketball value. I believe strongly that by 30, Amar’e could be a serviceable defender and the best offensive power forward to maybe have ever played this game. I think he is going to be Karl Malone with speed and athleticism.

    I don’t think we need Channing, if he is affordable, fine, but there are lots of 6’9 guys who can shoot the 3 and defend centers and PF’s better than Channing

  • john marzan

    the guy who clearly deserves a raise is goran dragic.

  • john marzan

    should we give him one now?

  • Kyle Fleeger

    Goran Dragic doesn't need an extension or raise, and I am the guy who sells my own home-made Goran shirts to sell.

    Also, yes, you are wrong, look up the ESPN interview with Gentry where it talks about how he was going to be able to travel with Mike D… and then because of his daughter he decided to stay. See I GAVE A REASON he would act in the way I am claiming, you simply said, "NOT UH, I AM RIGHT"

    Also, stuck or not, it seems you have no legitimate concerns about Alvin Gentry

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