Updated Jan 22, 2013 - 11:13 am
What are the Suns doing?
Maybe Lindsey Hunter winds up being the best coach in Suns history.
Maybe he takes this current collection of role players, head cases, has-beens and never-will-bes and gives Suns fans a reason to be excited about the future.
Maybe he proves Robert Sarver, Lance Blanks and Lon Babby to be basketball geniuses for having the foresight to fire Alvin Gentry and appoint him head coach before things got really ugly.
Of course, in order for that to happen, Hunter has to hope good buddy/general manager Lance Blanks goes out and gets him a marquee player this off-season. So far, the trio of Sarver, Blanks and Babby have been unable -- or unwilling -- to either lure or acquire (via trade) anything resembling a franchise-changing player, although Suns fans have been told things will change this summer.
Luis Scola, Jared Dudley and Goran Dragic are nice pieces, but clearly incapable of taking over games in crunch time.
One of my favorite NBA coaches of all-time unleashed on the Suns for firing Gentry.
During Friday's ESPN telecast Jeff Van Gundy said, "…why fire Alvin Gentry? I'm trying to understand what he did wrong…I really do believe there's going to be some management soon enough that sticks with a guy even when he's the coach of a bad team, because they know he's a good coach."
I covered Van Gundy when he coached the Rockets. Just about every time a coach was fired during the season he called out the team president or general manager of that team. He could never figure out how those responsible for giving the coach so little to work with, never pointed the finger at themselves, but were more than willing for their coach to fall on the sword.
Ironically, the only time I remember Van Gundy giving ownership a pass for having a quick trigger finger with a coach was when the Suns parted ways with Terry Porter halfway through his first season on the job.
Sometimes bad fits are obvious to everyone except those making the hire.
To the best of my knowledge Suns players liked, respected and responded to Gentry. Despite the pitiful record, they played hard every night (save the 40-point debacle in Detroit).
Despite the constant slow starts and poor finishes, these Suns were competitive and fought to the very end.
Judging by what they said following Hunter's first practice on Sunday, they're looking forward to his hard-nosed, no-nonsense approach.
We'll see how that approach Hunter took during a 17-year playing career translates over the next three months. We'll see how guys respond to that in March when they're 25 games under .500.
Not only do I strongly disagree with the Gentry firing, but the fact that both Dan Majerle and Elston Turner were passed over by the Sarver/Blanks/Babby trio was a poor decision and should cause Suns fans to be suspicious at best, wary at worst, that this management team is qualified to get this franchise back to where it needs to be.
Maybe only one of the three guys made the decision to go with Hunter.
I honestly don't know.
I do know Babby has been extremely open and honest about his disappointment level about where this team is at during his weekly visits on Arizona Sports 620 with Doug & Wolf. I genuinely believe he cares about the direction and future of this franchise. He sounded devastated during his conversation with Doug & Wolf Friday.
I honestly don't know how much say Babby had in promoting Hunter. I do know that the recent, and seemingly current lottery seasons(s) are on his watch, and that it's eating at him.
I'm also aware that Majerle has long been devoted to this franchise and this city as a player, broadcaster and assistant coach.
As for Turner, aside from being Gentry's right hand man the last two seasons, he's also spent significant time as one of Rick Adelman's top assistants in both Houston and Sacramento -- and had success in both places. Turner has also interviewed for head-coaching vacancies in recent years.
You're telling me that either one of those guys were less qualified less deserving than Hunter, a player development scout (last season) and director (this season), with absolutely no coaching experience to speak of?
Or maybe does it just pay to have friends in high places?
Again, I'm not saying that Hunter will fail, nor am I pulling for him to. I just hope that the powers that be are as committed to putting a product on the floor that fans can be proud of as they claim publicly to be.
Jeremy Foster, News Editor