Alvin Gentry suddenly parting ways with the Suns all ‘feel’

Posted by on January 18th, 5:24 pm

PHOENIX – Something didn’t feel right on Planet Orange, and though it still might feel uneasy, let’s focus on the past.

The Phoenix Suns and head coach Alvin Gentry decided it was best to move in a new direction, and the team mutually parted ways with the head coach of five-plus years on Friday. The decision came suddenly and after owner Robert Sarver had gone on the record to say Gentry’s job was safe for the rest of the year.

“This is not something we planned for,” Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said Friday. “Robert Sarver was direct and blunt in saying that Alvin would be here for the rest of the year. That was our intent all along, that was the commitment we had made.

“But sometimes in this business, you get to a point where it just doesn’t feel right, and we just reached that point.”

Phoenix will take the next 48 hours to hire an interim head coach from within the organization, and Babby said that the coach will indeed be entering with an interim tag.

Babby refused to go into the front office’s discussions with Gentry or how it would move forward looking for an interim coach, though Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Elston Turner is a favorite of Sarver while Lindsey Hunter could be placed on the backburner to take over after this year.

Babby didn’t have a calculated reason for the firing. He and Sarver asked to meet with the coach last night after the loss to the Bucks. After a long discussion, the three decided to meet again Friday morning, and the final decision was made then, Babby said.

“There is no animosity or acrimony,” Babby said, “and I think he feels the same way.”

So what is it that Gentry did or didn’t do?

It’s hard to say, and the Suns front office might not know why Gentry ultimately failed. Chemistry between Gentry and his players could be one issue. Well-liked or not, it was clear that the Suns were going through lapses in focus. Maybe he didn’t reach them 100 percent of the time.

Whether his relationship with Marcin Gortat was anything of a big deal or just a product of frustration, even one of the players closest in Gentry’s corner, point guard Goran Dragic, hasn’t been playing consistent ball of late.

“Every coach has different strengths and weaknesses, different chemistry with each group,” Babby said. “The point I was trying to make is, the decision for Alvin and us to part ways is not a reflection in the quality of him as a coach.

“It’s just that at this time, at this place, at this moment with this group, it just wasn’t working.”

The Suns’ 13-28 record made that clear. At the same time, it wasn’t completely about the record. Babby said that the expectations weren’t too high and the win-loss numbers weren’t necessarily the problem. What was clear, again going back to that “feel,” was the lack of progress through the first half of the year.

“I think we gave him a team that we thought was better than how we’re playing,” Babby said. “I wouldn’t put that all on him. That’s not what this is about. It’s just a feel that we weren’t moving forward. I don’t think Alvin felt like we were.”

Handling young teams just might not be where Gentry’s talents lie. Perhaps his best attributes – motivating teams that don’t need the hand-holding that this Suns team dearly needs – were perfect for that 2009-10 Western Conference Finals team, as Michael Schwartz wrote in 2010.

Babby read, word-for-word, a statement at the beginning of his press conference on Friday. He made it clear that everyone from the front office to the locker room had accountability.

“Transitions are not easy,” the prepared statement read. “We know we are in the midst of one. We are all accountable and we all need to do better. A new coach will not be a magic elixir. Only hard work and perseverance will move us forward.”

But, of course, so will the decisions of the front office in the next 48 hours and beyond.

And 1

Alvin Gentry’s statement from a Suns release: ““After nine years with the Suns, the organization and I came to a mutual agreement to go in different directions,” Gentry said. “I have the utmost respect for (Suns Managing Partner) Robert (Sarver) and what he’s done with the organization. It’s unfortunate that I was unable to accomplish what I set out to do here.”

Babby on if the front office was unhappy about how Gentry dealt with his rotations and personnel use: “There’s this … misperception that somehow a front office dictates to a coach who we should play. We have never done that. Alvin was the coach of the team, and his job was to play who he thought was appropriate. There was no dissatisfaction (in that regard).

“If there were discussions to be had, it was an open dialog back-and-forth. So the suggestion that he wasn’t following orders; first of all, there were no orders, and second of all, that’s not Alvin Gentry.”

Babby on what he’d like to see for the rest of this year: “I want us to progress culturally. I want us to see some modest or substantial growth in our young players. I want us to play hard every night, which for the most part we’ve done.”

“Maybe the emphasis is going to shift a little bit in the direction of player development … we’re still trying to win games, we’re still trying to compete, but maybe the emphasis is slightly altered.”

Kevin Zimmerman is the lead blogger and editor for Valley of the Suns. He is also editor of AZDesertSwarm.com, an Arizona Wildcats\’ blog, and a contributor at SB Nation and Pac-12.com.

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Tags: Alvin Gentry · Phoenix Suns Analysis

20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Freddy // Jan 18, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    How do you stay competitive with a team full of Role/Dleague players and what exactly are you competing for with these players?

  • 2 Majestic One // Jan 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    One thing is for sure: Suns in more need of a high lottery pick than a few more wins right now.

  • 3 Scott // Jan 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Anyone else notice Gortat’s tweets?

    “SVG! SVG!” ;)

  • 4 Alvin Gentry’s potential replacements as Phoenix Suns’ coach // Jan 18, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    [...] his age (he’s only 41), and you get a coach who is both credible and relatable with his players. When Gentry’s departure was announced, the team stated its new direction would be focused on player development. If that is indeed the [...]

  • 5 Freddy // Jan 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Saw Gortat tweets earlier. I like SVG and Avery but I doubt they reach out to either or anyone with a descent resume.

    The suns will go the cheap route and hire internal.

  • 6 azbballfan // Jan 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    I think Avery Johnson would be not a good choice for the Suns.

    From what i have heard, he has an intense micromanaging style, and blames the teams problems on everyone but himself

    He also apparently got under the skin of alot of players in Brooklyn

    Thats why i heard he got the boot in Brooklyn despite having a roster loaded with young talent and veteran talent.

    I dont get the Suns at all

    Management says we are a playoff team

    Gentry puts the guys on the floor he think we have a chance to win the most with

    Supposedly he was fired for not playing Beasley or Marshall

    When we have people that are more productive than them playing and starting

    So what the hell do you want front office? do you want to win? or develop talent? cause you sure as hell cant do both.

    Not until you get lottery picks in here atleast.

    by the way, Nerlens Noel and Alex Len would make a good new front court.

    Whoever the Suns draft, they gotta produce, i dont care what position they play

  • 7 foreveris2long // Jan 18, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    This is almost as big a hoax as the Notre Dame fiasco. Are you kidding me that Babby and Blanks do not get fired and Gentry goes? Despite the summer optimism I knew this was not a .500 team. Most of the roster consist of a bunch of stiffs. One more stupid summer and I am cutting all ties with this franchise that in my opinion is run by a bunch of morons.

  • 8 Scott // Jan 18, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    @azbballfan -

    Where is it said that Gentry was booted for not playing Beasley and Marshall? Did I miss something?

    What I read (see the last four paragraphs of the article above) is that it was Gentry who wanted to give Beasley all the minutes he did, and the FO gave Gentry full rein to do as he pleased.

    If Gentry was free to play Beasley as he wished, and he played him so much at the start of the season, then to me that strongly suggests Gentry was genuinely pleased by the selection of Beasley and was happy to have him on the team.

    As for Marshall, while Gentry probably had input into the draft, when the season started he had more confidence in Telfair than in Marshall. It seems that Telfair is a player Gentry wanted, and he could count on Telfair to play defense and hit 3s.

    So why is Gentry gone now? Presumably, because it became clear he could not win with this team. If Gentry was indeed in close consultation with Blanks on the building of this team, it’s possible Gentry doesn’t understand why the team played as poorly as it did. In that case, the failure is on him.

  • 9 john // Jan 18, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    @foreveris-

    Good riddance when that day comes. You’ll be back to jump on the bandwagon when winning finds its way back to the Valley.

  • 10 azbballfan // Jan 18, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Hey Scott

    I am going off of what someone posting as Lance Blanks said in one of the previous articles about Gentry being fired.

    I guess if Beasley and Marshall get minutes now they will either prove Gentry was right in not playing them or they will prove him leaving was the right decision.

    I dont think Beasley and Marshall are gonna morph into productive players with whoever gets the interim scapegoat position.

  • 11 azbballfan // Jan 18, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Yeah it was this post from the initial report of Gentry parting ways or whatever they wanna call it

    “Hey fans,
    I just wanted to share to you the thoughts of me, Lon and John in regards to this firing. We think Alvin is a good man but we just did not think he was the right man to coach this team that we built, and that we believe either Elston, Dan or Lindsay would be better fits.
    We need to give more time to our young guys, Beasley and Marshall in particular. Those are two talented ball players who need more time to show just how great they can be for this team. Alvin simply did not want to give them time, and that is his prerogative that he can just relay to himself while watching Michael and Kenndall progress from his sofa.
    Listen Suns fans, I understand the frustrations, but I and Lon and John believe in this team. It is still early, and we believe that there are changes that can be done to turn this ship around and brig this team back to the playoffs where they belong.
    I also know that we need to put more emphasis on guys like Kendall, Michael and Markieff, as I know they can, hell will contribute to this team.
    Stay with us fans, this ship will be righted”

  • 12 foreveris2long // Jan 18, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    John John,put your poms poms away and quit being a cheerleader. Manup for once in your life and say something intelligent.

  • 13 john // Jan 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    I had just as much a point in my post as you had in yours.

    Read: none.

  • 14 bill.thomas // Jan 19, 2013 at 1:40 am

    Make Lon Coach. Put the Money Where the Big Fat ____ Mouth Is !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 15 bill.thomas // Jan 19, 2013 at 1:42 am

    Marshall & Beasley Gonna Take Us to the Fifth Seed !!! Right Now !!!!

  • 16 bill.thomas // Jan 19, 2013 at 1:45 am

    Next, Babby will blame it all on Tucker. A convenient target.

  • 17 bill.thomas // Jan 19, 2013 at 1:47 am

    Alvin needs to go on vacay and forget about this rotten-to-the-core FO crew.

    He really deserves it.

    No one from the outside will come into this rat-abandoning sinking ship !!!!

  • 18 bill.thomas // Jan 19, 2013 at 2:29 am

    I would just replace Gentry with Mantei Teo. That makes as much sense as anything this FO has ever done.

  • 19 bill.thomas // Jan 20, 2013 at 12:51 am

    @ForeverIs: R U kidding me? Mantei Teo is a junior Lon Babby !!!

  • 20 BCrayZ // Jan 21, 2013 at 10:14 am

    That sleazy lawyer Babby is such a liar.

    This lie concerning Alvin is yet another one that is not fair.

    On the one hand, Babby sugar coats the firing by calling it “a mutual parting of the ways.”

    Then, he read the words he carefully wrote to say “asked to meet with the coach last night after the loss to the Bucks. After a long discussion, the three decided to meet again Friday morning, and the final decision was made then,” Babby said. What does this mean? My best guess is that Alvin asked the front office, as he recently said he would, to shift from win/now mode to future development mode, as he was frustrated by another home loss. Home wins were very important to him. When most likely told that development does not fill seats and he can either choose to do it their way or take the highway, that he asked to think about it over night. Then, in the morning, the ax fell and they comforted him saying that they would not embarrass him publicly but rather call it “a mutual parting of the ways.” He tried so hard. He wanted to keep Nash & Nash wanted to stay. They came to the Suns at the same time & hoped to stay together & hoped to stay there together until Nash was ready to quit. Back in his Pistons days, he coached Grant Hill. They also had great mutual respect for each other & formed a beautiful leadership trio for the young guys. They helped boost the confidence of the young guys that became “that killer bench unit.” Then Babby came in & blew it all up to gain power over Sarver. Alvin remained loyal to the team & a true professional, trying his best to work with what they gave him, despite the break up of that unit & showing Nash & Hill the door. He deserved so much more than this.

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