Alvin Gentry should still be the man in Phoenix beyond the 2012-13 season

Alvin Gentry has become the head coach the Suns wished Mike D'Antoni would be. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Alvin Gentry should remain in Phoenix despite the Suns’ roster turnover. (AP Photo/Matt York)

With the dawn of a new era often comes a new head coach. 

A team full of fresh faces searching to recapture its winning tradition usually transitions toward a new head honcho hoping to take the organization to the promise land.  

But despite the fact that the Phoenix Suns welcome in seven new players as they turn the page to a new era of youth, Alvin Gentry should still be the man to steer the purple and orange ship, even after his contract expires after this season.

Yes, veterans Steve Nash and Grant Hill have come and gone, but Gentry should indeed stay put to guide Phoenix’s young core.

He’s the perfect blend of a veteran, battle-tested coach and the type of leader young players can relate to and develop under. His pedigree speaks for itself.

“He’s a very good coach. He knows that league so well,” said Duke associate head coach Chris Collins, who has known Gentry since he was a young boy growing up watching his father (Doug Collins) coach the Pistons. “Look at the coaches that he’s been under and worked with — my dad and Larry Brown and some of the greats in the league. Now he’s translated that into becoming one of the better coaches in his own right. I think he’s a terrific coach and hopefully he’ll be in Phoenix for a long time.”

It’s easy to forget that Gentry has coached under (or with) Larry Brown, Gregg Popovich, Doug Collins, and Mike D’Antoni during the Seven Seconds or Less era. There aren’t many coaches in the league who can say they’ve been around coaching greatness such as that. 

Then there’s his ability to manage and develop players. Anyone who’s worked in the Phoenix media will tell you Gentry isn’t strictly an Xs and Os guy with no personality. He understands the people side of basketball. 

“First of all he’s an outstanding coach, but what makes him really good is his ability to connect with people,” Collins said. “He’s one of those guys where people just gravitate toward him. You want to be around him. He’s got that distinct laugh where you know if he’s in the building from a mile away.”

He’s likable and easy to respect. He instills confidence yet knows when to be a disciplinarian. Those techniques will go a long way with a cast of players looking for a jolt of confidence to help them finally hit their stride in the NBA. 

“To a player they love playing for him and they love his ability to be mad one night and come back the next morning and be himself and be in a good mood and keep the team on an even keel,” PBO Lon Babby said back in May. “He has tremendous people skills and communication skills.”

Look at what Gentry did to develop Goran Dragic. The once-fragile youngster came from Slovenia to the United States as an unknown point guard with little to no confidence. Soon enough, Gentry’s pupil was all but single-handedly eliminating the San Antonio Spurs with 23 fourth-quarter points. 

Dragic and Gentry’s relationship alone is a major reason the Suns should keep the veteran head coach around for the future. Then there’s the endless possibilities that Gentry brings in terms of developing guys like Michael Beasley, Kendall Marshall, and Wesley Johnson, not to mention his continued development of Markieff Morris. 

Gentry is a proven commodity, and although the Phoenix Suns are entering a new era, he’s one piece that should stay around. 

And 1

  • Steve Nash made an appearance on Jay Leno on Tuesday night. He didn’t talk in length about his time in Phoenix, but he did say this when asked about the fan reaction to his departure: “I have heard a mixed bag. Overwhelmingly supportive actually. A lot of people have been really thrilled for me to have a great opportunity and thankful for my eight years there, but there’s been some people that have been very angry.” You can catch part 1 and part 2 of the interview on
  • The Suns have added veteran big man Solomon Jones to their training camp roster, according to Paul Coro. Jones is a 28-year-old 6-foot-10, 245-pound big who has played for four teams in six fairly unproductive seasons. He holds career numbers of 3.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks in 11.1 minutes per game.
  • Part 3 of Goran Dragic’s Training Days series with The Noc is embedded below:

Tags: Alvin Gentry

  • steve

    I agree with the Gentry/Dragic bit. I think it would be good for the Dragon if Gentry stuck around. HOWEVER, I don’t believe Gentry is among the better coaches in the league. He doesn’t stress defense enough, or if he does stress it, then he’s awful at teaching it. And if it really is just the players on the court messing up his amazing defensive schemes, then he needs to pick different players. Whatever the case, I blame Gentry for quite a bit of the defensive deficiencies of this Suns squad.

    I don’t think he’s a bad coach. I actually do believe he’s a good coach. Just not great. I could name 6 or 7 coaches off the top of my head that I would clearly rather have than Gentry, but I could just as easily name 10 that I believe Gentry trumps.

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    I think that Gentry should be re-upped for several reasons:

    He is an excellent coach. He is good in game situations. Like the writer states, he will try to develop young players.

    Unlike D’Antoni, Gentry proved a couple of years ago (when the Suns went to the western finals), that he will use his bench–even ten deep, if he has the players.

    He still uses much of the run-and-gun that D’Antoni used, but unlike D’Antoni, he is not bull headed to the point where he won’t hire a coach to coach defense.

    While the players like and respect him, he will sit a player (even a star) on the bench for lack of effort, or not trying to play defense.

    He will carry on the Suns tradition of a fast paced game, and throw some defense in there as well.

  • Ty-Sun

    I don’t know if it’s because Gentry doesn’t stress D enough, is bad at teaching it or possibly it’s just because he hasn’t been given strong defensive players to work with. The philosophy before this season was bringing in players that fit into an offensive system that was geared to working well with Steve Nash, not D. With Nash gone that philosophy no longer exists and perhaps we will see more emphasis on D this season. I think this team has the potential to be a better defensive team. Time will tell.

  • Herb Posner

    The article written above on Alvin Gentry above could not be said in a more eloquent way. Alvin is one fantastic coach in every respect. I just wish that I was not approaching 80 yrs old so I could be young enough to play for him. He has it all together. Good luck this season coach. Herb Posner

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    Herb -

    If you are approaching 80 years old, you can still play for the Lakers (Kobe-Nash and Co.)!

    Hope you have many more!

  • Scott

    I think Gentry’s a fine coach, but he’s got a substantial liability in that he can’t ever seem to make full use of the talent he’s got on the roster. He keeps putting players out on the floor who don’t play as well together as other combinations do, and he seems to muddle along without a clear idea of who should play under what conditions and why.

    A separate but related issue is that the GM does not give Gentry a group of players with clearly defined roles and synergies. However, since Gentry appears to have some feedback into the player selection process, I think this reflects again upon Gentry’s inability to understand who should play with whom.

    I think what we’d all like to see is something along the lines of one of D’Antoni’s starting 5, or the 2nd unit that emerged at the end of D’Antoni’s term, featuring Frye, Amundson, Dudley, Barbosa, and Dragic. Both D’Antoni’s starters and that particular 2nd unit had natural synergies that the Suns have not been able to replicate with any recent floor group.