Marcin Gortat gives another troubling interview


Following the Phoenix Suns’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, Marcin Harasimowicz of Przeglad Sportowy caught up with Marcin Gortat for a second round of pointed tidbits following his comments from last month.

Adam Koscielak of Gothic Ginobili was kind enough to send us the translation of the interview, one that tells of Gortat again wondering aloud about Alvin Gentry’s coaching.

More troubling is the tone.

Asked why he was so good in the Portland game on Nov. 21 yet struggled against the Clippers on Saturday, Gortat shucked the blame away.

“It’s mostly because various players play different roles and have different playing time in every game,” Gortat said. “The team isn’t crystallized. It doesn’t have everyone knowing his role. Nobody’s really sure how many minutes he’ll spend on the court, whether he even gets a shot.”

Later in the interview, Gortat admits that his aggressiveness has faded but gives a reason outside of his control.

“Maybe my aggressiveness has faded, but you know why? Because in one game, I play well, and in the next, I don’t, while in the third one, I don’t play at all, and in the fourth, I’m suddenly getting a bunch of passes,” Gortat said. “There’s no consistency. I think that might be affecting me.”

The “next” game where Gortat struggles certainly seems like the valid cause for not getting regular minutes. And in the “fourth” game, admitting to receiving touches certainly seems like a good chance for Gortat to redeem himself. That would be assuming that any talented NBA center needs an offense tailor-made for him to score.

In an increasingly scary trend of interviews, it sounds like Gortat doesn’t think he’s getting chances to show his abilities. Whether “chances” means touches or playing time, he’s not happy.

“First of all, I believe I’m a good basketball player,” Gortat said. “I showed and confirmed that many times already. I don’t need to argue with anyone about it, or repeat it ad nauseam. I know my worth. I believe in myself, but at the same time, I’m waiting for a chance. I don’t give up, if I did, I wouldn’t be myself.”

When he came to Phoenix from Orlando, we thought Gortat’s chance to shine was an opportunity to be a starting center for an NBA team. Now, it’s a wonder what more he could ask for.

While his minutes have dropped since his initial comments and Jermaine O’Neal and Luis Scola have closed games in his place, Gortat did see crunch-time minutes on Sunday against Orlando. He scored 12 points to go with six rebounds in 32 minutes, which was twice the amount of time either Scola or O’Neal played.

The trio as a whole got belted by the Magic big men. Second-year pro Nikola Vucevic scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds while rookie Andrew Nicholson (you could see this one coming following his career game prior to the meeting with the Suns) scored 19 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had four steals in 25 minutes.

It is doubtful the Magic ran many plays specifically to set Vucevic or Nicholson up for a score.

As Schwartz said a month ago, it’s refreshing to see athletes avoid cliches. But cliches often represent truth in that there are only so many ways to say a locker room is together, the team has the same goal of winning and everything is hunky-dory — even in desperate times.

Gortat isn’t saying much about fighting for his teammates; that was a sharp difference between his interview and Jared Dudley’s comments following the loss to the Magic.

In Schwartz’s postgame video of the Orlando loss, Dudley, like Gortat, mentions that rhythm — confidence even — is difficult to grasp when rotations change from game to game. One reporter points out that it’s hard for rotations to be set when most of the Suns are so inconsistent.

“Yes. That’s right,” Dudley responded. “Guys have to hold each other accountable. If you’re not producing … next guy up.” Dudley goes on to say Gentry’s job is a tough one.

The captain’s take on the recent struggles at least provides evidence that the locker room isn’t as fractured as the seven-game losing streak might suggest.

Gentry said after Sunday’s loss that he doesn’t worry about Sebastian Telfair’s effort level. Now it’s a wonder how many other players are in that same boat, and then, how many others will settle to fight for their own success.

Here’s the entire transcription, again, courtesy of Adam Koscielak.

Przeglad Sportowy: The Suns are in a tough spot, something that coach Alvin Gentry also talked about. You lost six games in a row.

Marcin Gortat: That’s true. 6 losses and it doesn’t seem like we’re going to break this streak in the next game. This is a tough moment, not only for the team, but also for myself, for my career. I’m going through tough moments. It’s situations like these where you have to show mental strength and think about what we can change. I need to train hard every day and hope for the best.

How would you explain the teams streaky play this season? For three quarters you were neck in neck with a top-notch team in the NBA, the Clippers, only to waste it in three or four minutes.

MG: Unfortunately, there are some “black holes” in our games that are hard to logically explain. There are moments in which it feels like somebody turned off the power. As if someone pulled the plug. We compete, we fight, we try, and then suddenly they go up a dozen points and we either mount a comeback, or it’s too late.

Coach Gentry admitted that he’s still looking for an optimal lineup, and he himself doesn’t quite know how to use certain players. Your team is really going through a lot of changes all the time. Is Gentry looking for a perfect balance?*

MG: Maybe, I can’t really say anything about that.

In some games you score a lot of points, for example 22 against the Trail Blazers and 18 against the Knicks, but you also have games like the one in Staples Center against the Clippers. Why?

MG: It’s mostly because various players play different roles and have different playing time in every game. The team isn’t crystallized. It doesn’t have everyone knowing his role. Nobody’s really sure how many minutes he’ll spend on the court, whether he even gets a shot. We’re still at the point of finding our strong suits.

How can you correct this?

MG: First and foremost – by practice. We can talk about how much (shots? playing time? t/n), and what we want in the locker room before and after games, but it isn’t working so far. Only hard work in practice will let us eliminate our mistakes and fix our play.

You mentioned that you are going through some hard times? How do you plan on breaking through this crisis?

MG: Talking to the people that are close to me, that helped me built my career, or were close to me when I was growing as a basketball player. I’m capable of showing a high level. I have no other choice, but to look for a place to me in the team and fight for what’s mine. It’s really hard this season, though. This is an important mental test for me. I need to stay strong and focus on basketball. I can’t be discouraged by things that happen in my team. It’s not easy. This is the first time I’m in a situation like this in my career. Physically, I feel well. Maybe my aggressiveness has faded, but you know why? Because in one game, I play well, and in the next, I don’t, while in the third one, I don’t play at all, and in the fourth, I’m suddenly getting a bunch of passes. There’s no consistency. I think that might be affecting me.

In the game against the Trail Blazers, you’ve shown that you can play a big role in the Suns offence.

MG: First of all, I believe I’m a good basketball player. I showed and confirmed that many times already. I don’t need to argue with anyone about it, or repeat it ad nauseam. I know my worth. I believe in myself, but at the same time, I’m waiting for a chance. I don’t give up, if I did, I wouldn’t be myself.

Broussard: Gentry’s job is safe

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver told ESPN’s Chris Broussard on Monday that Alvin Gentry’s job is safe.

“We’ve got confidence in our coaching staff and we’re not considering making changes,” Sarver told ESPN.

“It’s still early in the season,” he added. “We’re playing worse than our talent, and a lot of that has to do with confidence. It’s up to the coaches and players to start playing better and to get that swagger back and turn things around. Things can turn quickly in this league.”

That’s not surprising news considering the circumstances.

A midseason firing wouldn’t do much for a team that, even if all was going well, is clearly in a rebuilding mode. Plus, Gentry’s contract ends after this season, making it financially moot or even more expensive if they let him go, paid him off and then had to pay an interim coach.

If anything, Gentry has this season to earn his next contract.

  • john

    And, to clarify, when I said, “Lopez wasn’t cheaper,” I meant, “Lopez wasn’t significantly cheaper.”

    Lopez makes around $2M/year less than Gortat. Drop in the bucket when you’re talking about the entire cap.

  • Espeeral

    @Melon Man : Have you heard the expression “don’t feed the troll” ? I won’t

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    FWIW guys, your opinions are fine. Whether you disagree with my interpretations of Gortat’s interviews or not is not the issue. And I don’t think it’s overreacting to use the word “troubling” in the headline because even those who disagree with me will probably admit that this is just an example about the locker room being toxic (to what degree is hard to say).

    Coro’s Piece on Monday said that as well. Can’t we agree that Suns fans probably find this team troubling?

    http://www.azcentral.com/sports/heatindex/articles/20121210phoenix-suns-putting-bad-bad-news.html

  • Tony

    @John,

    I agree with foreveris, that Lopez was worth keeping more than Gortat primarily because of where the Suns organization stands at a competitive level with other teams in the NBA. Specifically, for the simple fact that Gortat is already in his prime now, it made no sense to retain him at the expense of Lopez, whom I believe is almost four years younger than Gortat. The best case scenario for the Suns to reestablish their relevancy will be another few years from now, and that’s likely the best case scenario. At that point Gortat will be past his prime and the Suns would likely need to look for a new starting center.

    Even though centers traditionally have longer effective careers than perimeter players, Gortat’s one of the more modern era mobile bigs who relies upon his speed and athleticism much more so than his physical strength. As such, Gortat likely has a shorter time-frame with which to play at a high level.

    Lopez, on the other hand, is only 24 and hasn’t reached his prime yet. He still has a few years to go before he reaches that point. And while currently he’s clearly not as good as Gortat, he has a higher ceiling to improve and develop than Gortat does. So it’s not inconceivable that he will be a better player in his prime than Gortat in his prime.

    Lastly, not to say the same wouldn’t have happened if it was Lopez instead, but Gortat seems completely disinterested and is likely bailing this organization at the first possible opportunity. This is particularly so considering his age and that he’s at a point in his career in which winning probably plays greater importance for him than if he were younger. Lopez, on the other hand, is still only 24 and still needs to establish himself; and so, he probably is more patient in terms of how successful the team is.

  • john

    @kevin

    Most definitely agreed. Troubling indeed.

  • Scott

    @Kevin -

    The only things that are troubling to me are the team’s losses brought about by the failures of the players, the poor court combinations made by the coach which contribute to the failures of the players, and the poor player selections by the GM which contributes to the poor court combos.

    As for the writing, I think you should pick either an obviously personal style for expressing your opinion (like Bill Simmons) or just report the facts, and perhaps give the viewpoints of others in response to the facts.

    Let us decide if Gortat’s interview is troubling, or give us a piece of your mind, but don’t take a reporter’s tone and then try to guide us to your interpretation.

  • Ty-Sun

    Here’s a little from an article I just read on Grantland:

    “The vultures are circling Phoenix, looking to see if they can extract value from the Suns’ collective failure. The Suns have little interest in dealing Dragic, but the tension between Gortat and Alvin Gentry could lead to a larger deal — one that could include more puzzle pieces starting Saturday.”

    Probably an apt description of how other teams that might have an interest in Gortat are viewing the Suns right now. I wouldn’t doubt Sarver and the FO going for an early trade (and not necessarily the best trade) just to drum up fans’ hopes in the team this season (and raise attendance levels).

  • john

    @Ty-Sun

    If anything, I think this particular front office has shown that it is too scared of making the wrong trade to just make a bad trade for the sake of making a trade.

    I’m not worried about them shipping Gortat and Dudley off for a couple of protected second-round picks. Babby’s and Blanks’s jobs (and probably futures as basketball executives for any team) are on the line this year.

  • Ty-Sun

    @john

    I didn’t say they would make a bad trade. I said they might make “not necessarily the best trade”. There is a BIG difference between what I actually said and how you interpreted it. But I will spell it out in detail so there is no room for misunderstanding.

    The Suns could make an early jump on a GOOD trade instead of waiting for an even better trade especially if the team continues to play like it has been playing. No matter what anyone thinks of the Suns’ FO, they’re not stupid enough to make an obviously bad trade. At least I hope so.

  • Greg

    @John, 2 million is not a drop in the bucket when the cap is what, $58.3 million? A max player and that is 43 million for the other 11/12 guys on the team, which is less than 4 million a player on average… The Knicks got a stopper in ronnie brewer for less than that….$2 mil can go a long way in adding valuable pieces

  • john

    @Ty-Sun – I see. Good points.

    @Greg – $2M/$58.3M = 0.0343

    I suppose this depends on how you define “drop in the bucket.” To me, anything less than 10% of the cap is easily “drop in the bucket” type of stuff. With all of the exceptions and wiggle room that there is in the cap rules, it’s not very difficult to sign an extra five-million-dollar-man and pay little to no penalties for it.

    PLUS, the Suns aren’t even at the cap (and they’re under it by well over $2M).

    In no scenario that I could possibly conceive does the Suns’ decision to keep Gortat over Lopez restrict them from making any meaningful (or meaningless) personnel changes. That’s “drop in the bucket” to me.

    And this is all without saying Marcin is on the books for less years (and I think slightly less total dollars as well, considering that Robin’s deal is 3 years), and it’s also highly unlikely the Suns will end up paying him the full amount that is remaining on his contract. He’s not signing an extension here, and if he isn’t gone before this season is over, I would be SHOCKED if his expiring deal isn’t gone by the middle of next season.

    @Tony – Fair points on Robin vs Gortat, but I still think the FO made the right decision in keeping a 20+ PER guy over a never-has-been-and-probably-never-will-be guy, especially when the better player of the two is an absolute steal for the price and has an easily moveable contract. Pros and cons either way, for sure, but if I were the GM, I would have stuck with Gortat due to the three things mentioned above:
    1. I think Robin is nothing more than an average big whose best situation would be to contribute 15 minutes per game off the bench for a GOOD team with the purpose of spelling an all-star big for a few minutes at a time and not giving up too much ground on the defensive end (aka, not the situation he would be in if he stayed in PHX).
    2. Gortat is the type of guy who can average 15/10 with a couple of blocks (when he’s interested). He’s worth $12M/year and he’s getting paid $7M/year.
    3. Gortat’s contract is shorter, and he’s a much more valuable trade piece.

  • DBreezy

    @Foreveris,

    Where ya been brother? I know this Gortat stuff has to be killing you. I still believe that from an organizational standpoint the mistake was not trading him much earlier. It’s well known that new GM’s and/or coaches tend to swap out the existing roster outside of bonafide performers. Duds is the only player still here from when Babby/Blanks started, Dragic doesn’t count IMO. They knew after they traded for Marcin and he outperformed R.Lo that season(for whatever reason) that they were done with him. The rest was lies. I still find it hard to believe that they forgot to mention to R.Lo in his exit interview that season that they were planning on sending the centers to work with Dream that summer. So either R.Lo ignored them or they didn’t really intend to send him as it took a long time for the organization to get their story straight on that one that R.Lo was simply out of the country. They acted like they knew that, but then why did R.Lo have to pay his own way with Dream when they paid for Marcin and Siler?

    Gambo and Coro both confirmed that they tried to move him on draft day. With a lockout looming they never should have waited when they knew they weren’t extending him. It progressed from a basketball to a financial decision that summer and they didn’t handle it well.

  • Jeremy

    Even last year Gortat looked soft. He was bullied by other centers and won’t drive all the way to the rim being stopped by forwards and guards (who would block his shot at times). I had a very bad feeling about his drop off with out MVSteve spoon feeding him. To have the ego he has seemed to display in his two interviews this year is dumb, he has in no way backed that up on the court. His stats this year are bad for the minutes he plays and as good as he tries to say he is. You can’t go 1-8 in a game and expect to keep getting minutes.
    That said I think by the same standard Beesy needs to come off the bench or change to PF because he is horribly inefficient as well this year.

  • Ty-Sun

    On the Gortat vs. Lopez discussion…

    Yes, Lopez is younger than Gortat. Lopez may have more potential upside than Gortat but he’s also proven to be more injury prone than Gortat. And playing as Dwight Howard’s backup for so many years in Orlando doesn’t give Gortat as much NBA mileage as most NBA centers his age. Planning for the future the Suns couldn’t afford to keep them both and in the short term keeping Gortat made the most sense. If Gortat is unhappy with the team and his role now… that was something that might not have been able to be predicted and it might have been better to keep Lopez.

    Hindsight is always 20-20.

  • grover

    Amazing how fast fan opinions change. Last year I was getting ripped on this board for not falling in line with the belief Gortat should be an All Star. This year twenty games into the season he’s suddenly the Polish Sausage, Girltot, etc and should be traded immediately for a bag of rocks. Very fickle fans – we overreacted last year to him performing well, and we are overreacting this year as he’s playing poorly.

  • SHAZAM

    @ grover i remember that..u did take heat…i admit now that you were spot on…i also like the headline for this article it increases the number of readers and comments…as long as the content stays at a high level the headlines should be as tabloid as possible… HEADLESS MAN FOUND IN TOPLESS BAR…

  • bill.thomas
  • Luka

    This just in… Lon Babby to sign Erik Piatkowski to address shooting woes.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    @ Luka

    They say Piatkowski makes a great Pierogi…..maybe it will keep Gortat happy ;)

    @ Forever….good to see ya bro….knew this Gortat business was killin ya….on the bright (relatively speaking) side, Suns have a shot at a top 3 pick.

  • bill.thomas

    @Luka: He should also sign Miles to address front line woes. Can’t get any worse than this. Andrew Nicholson has already asked for a raise. What is the biggest bra size that can be bought in a variety of designs and colors?

  • bill.thomas

    While we’re at it, let’s change out Beasley for Stromile Swift.

  • bill.thomas

    I’ve decided to open a lingerie store next to US Airways Center. For team members and fans alike. Coupons will be available on VOTS.

  • bill.thomas

    When you go 3 of 15, what is it like? Its like JO’ing 15 times in 2 hours.

  • bill.thomas

    Kobe loves Shannon LOL. He also loves rape charges in Colorado. Let’s send Shannon back and give him the lesser of 2 evils.

  • bill.thomas

    Gourmet Magazine asked Chris Kaman what is his favorite dish? “Phoenix Suns BBQ”.

  • TheSunStoppedShining

    Breaking news: Lon Babby to sign Rex Chapman to address shooting woes.

  • john

    @grover

    There certainly is overreaction to Gortat’s poor play right now. I actually believe the camp arguing for Gortat’s all-star potential is closer to being correct.

    I think Gortat’s career as a whole has showed that, when he is motivated, he can be a 15/10/2 on a nightly basis. If he were really given the reins (which I’m not saying he deserves), I believe he could be an 18/12/2 guy, and that would definitely turn some heads when discussing all-stars.

    However, the fact is that right now he’s just completely disinterested and I feel dumb for even mentioning the words Gortat and all-star in the same sentence. Here’s to hoping he decides to care about being a Sun again.

  • SHAZAM

    you would have to give girltit every possession in a pick and roll to keep him happy…and if you do he will be happy w/ scoring numbers and won’t play defense….his offensive board stats even when hes happy sucks and that speaks volumes…yes he can get 2 blocks a night but if you go see how he does it ..its not impressive..his blocks come from trying to cover for his lazy hedges on p and r defense..he gets driven past way too often…in fact this might surprise you but girltit and morris cost us the most points on defense…check the stats girltit the polish hermaphrodite is no all star

  • john

    No one said he was an all-star, but I also can’t let you make up numbers.

    “Gortat and morris cost [the Suns] the most points on defense”

    Here are the Phoenix Suns’ actual defensive ratings, for best to worst (100 minutes played minimum)

    O’Neal – 103
    Gortat – 107
    Scola – 108
    Morris – 109
    Dragic – 109
    Telfair – 111
    Tucker – 111
    Beasley – 112
    Brown – 112
    Dudley – 113

    The Suns who have positive net ratings (offensive rating minus defensive rating):

    O’Neal – +5
    Dragic – +5
    Tucker – +5
    Gortat – +1

    Again, no one said Gortat is an all-star, but saying he costs the Suns the most points on defense is an outright lie. Plus, the facts actually indicate that the Suns are better than their opponents when Gortat is on the floor.

  • Brandon

    This season is over for us, we need to look into the draft and FA, if the season ended today, what draft picks would we have? I know it’s a very complicated situation depending on where teams finish. Can anyone clear that up?

  • SHAZAM

    john everyone has those flawed stats..some of us look at other aspects as well..you should too before calling someone an outright liar http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2012/12/11/3756638/breaking-bad-suns-d

  • john

    Don’t outrightly lie if you don’t want to be called an outright liar. Or, at the very least, provide clarity in your original statements.

    That was an examination of the defensive stats in the recent skid, was it not (700 possessions worth)? If you had said Gortat and Morris are the two worst defenders on the team during this recent skid, I would have agreed with you. Gortat has completely given up, and it’s obvious. However, a motivated Gortat is clearly not one of the worst defenders on the team.

  • john

    Btw, I got a laugh out of Feldman referring to the Suns in the first person. It was a good write-up, but I consider that sort of a thing very unprofessional. Even as what I consider to be a “die-hard” fan, I don’t refer to the Suns in the first person. I have nothing to do with their performance or operations. I just root for them. If I owned them, played for them, coached them, even worked for them in some other small capacity, I might refer to the organization/team in the first person. As it is, they’re a sports team. When fans refer to “their” teams in the first person, I just chuckle inside. When a writer does it, all objectivity is immediately dismissed on that subject.

  • Michael

    I don´t think objectivity is needed on a Suns site. I talk in the first person most of the time when talking about my favourite sports teams. Don´t see your point.

    And it´s an excellent article and great work by Jason. No one would complain about Gortat when he would have continued like he had started the season.
    But you cannot say, Gortat is a good defender when he has stopped that weeks ago.

    I don´t understand why the coaching stuff and the players are not able to work on these things. It seems so obvious what´s going wrong, and the solutions seem so obvious as well.
    Teach those guys (Gortat, Morris, Brwon, Beasley) how to defend, and if they don´t make progress, just bench them till their butt is raw.
    We have players that work hard and you have to reward them. The present rotation does not motivate any player to work harder on the court.

  • SHAZAM

    you wouldnt have agreed..if i said it was the skid..thats your fall back for not knowing another way to look at things…the omission of last 7 games wasnt to be an out right liar..i just showed you a recent article..there are 2 others that came out last week and the week before that covers the whole season with the same conclusions…you just dont read enough to know enough to even have an opinion worth reading…so if you are comfortable calling me a liar i wont hold back calling you a condescending moron..usually condescending people have some intelligence..u are the exception…now strap on your leather hat,jump in the short bus,get to your special school,pull out your crayons and have your productive day.

  • john

    @Michael – “[I] Don’t see your point.” I assume you see the point, but you simply disagree with it.

    At the risk of being bombasted for using inaccurate sources, here are a couple of interesting reads (neither of which completely agree with me, by the way):

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/876664-are-fans-a-part-of-the-team-definitive-rules-on-when-fans-can-use-we

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7116518/what-do-mean-we

    You’re never going to find a concensus on the matter. However, I don’t think a rational approach to the question can yield the conclusion that a fan or writer should refer to their favorite team in the first person. It’s emotion that leads us to believe we’re a “part” of the team or that the team is a “part” of us.

    And again, it’s not like I’m going to make a bigger fuss about this than needs to be made (read: I won’t say anything else about it), but I find it funny nonetheless when fans and writers do it.

    @ Shazam – “you wouldn’t have agreed”

    Now you presume to know my thoughts better than myself? This is going nowhere fast. Good bye.

  • Ty-Sun

    Interesting. I was just reading an article that mentioned possible/potential trade partners for Phoenix that “might” be interested in Gortat. It was mostly concentrating on contending teams that “might” want to try to make an improvement at their 5 spot. They mentioned Miami but discarded them quickly because they don’t have enough to entice Phoenix into a trade with them (outside of their big 3 which they won’t trade). Boston would probably also like to add Gortat but they also don’t have enough trade assets that Phoenix would like – and be willing to part with – to make a trade happen.

    And then there was OKC. That was actually an interesting idea looking toward the future in the valley. I would never consider trading Gortat for Perkins one-for-one but if OKC wanted to trade Perkins, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones for Gortat and Johnson’s expiring contract…

    Well, I’d have to give that some serious thought.

    I don’t like Perkins but he does have a serious attitude that I’d like to see at least some of in Phoenix. Lamb was one of the potential draft targets that Phoenix was looking at in the last draft until he was taken at #12. And even at #28 in last year’s draft, Perry Jones has at least the potential to to be develop into a good bench player if not a starter in the NBA.

    Like I said, I’d have to give his trade some serious thought if it were offered.

  • SHAZAM

    john if i was you i would run from my bs too..just admit you’re wrong for once..no ones perfect..you got it wrong and i proved it..no biggy it will happen again sometime..man up

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  • johnny

    I’m dumbfounded as why this Guy has not Ben traded he has already said he is ready to go he is as good as he will get he is not going to be a great center so while everyone is over pricing for gortats service make the deal for Gay and the draft picks that are given up in that deal get them back in a gortat trade. This is the best move moving forward for fans and franchise.

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