Posts Tagged ‘Alvin Gentry’

Alvin Gentry’s Uncertain Future

 
Well, Alvin Gentry did say 2012-13 in Phoenix would be about patience, with Steve Nash and Grant Hill gone, three new starters acquired via trade or free agency, and a lottery pick to develop in a reserve role.

Now the necessary big-picture view extends to the coach himself.

Gentry is in the final season of his contract but will not be offered an extension, Paul Coro writes in The Arizona Republic, quoting Suns president Lon Babby. Instead, Gentry, in his fourth full season, will apparently be graded after what could be the toughest of his Phoenix obstacle courses.

“We’ve talked to him about it,” said Babby, who also is entering the final year of his deal. “I think he’s at peace with it…. (I)f you’re on a three-year contract, we assess you at the end of three years, just like I’m going to be assessed. (General manager) Lance (Blanks) is going to be assessed when his contract is up (in 2014). This notion in sports that you have to always be one step ahead of your contract is something I don’t believe in, particularly now that I’m no longer an agent.”

When he was a prominent and respected agent, Babby was all for extensions for clients, of course, early and often. But it’s not just that side. Many teams also prefer to not have a coach enter a season with the uncertainty, knowing it can create an environment for players to seize on the perceived weakness inside the locker room, especially if losses mount and the atmosphere turns ugly. (more…)

We’ve Got Our Eyes On You

 

On opening night everybody is undefeated and optimistic. But that doesn’t mean some players — young and old — aren’t more under the gun to step forward and establish their place in the league. So we present a couple of fistfuls of guys who need to hit the ground running:

Nicolas Batum, Trail Blazers – It’s been four seasons now of occasional flashes and teases. Now that Brandon Roy and Greg Oden are simply yellowed pages in the history books, it is time for Batum to be the twin support along with LaMarcus Aldridge that is a bridge to the future. Rookie of the Year candidate Damian Lillard might draw a lot of attention in the backcourt along with fellow newbie Meyers Leonard in the middle, but after getting his big paycheck, Batum must deliver the goods every night.

Michael Beasley, Suns — As Bob Dylan might have sung, how many roads does a man walk down before he’s considered a bust? This is already the third stop on the reclamation tour of the former No. 2 overall pick, and if he can’t succeed in coach Alvin Gentry’s offense-friendly atmosphere in Phoenix, what’s left? Beasley can score. He can rebound. What he has to prove is an ability to keep his head in the game and with the program.

Andrew Bogut, Warriors — There’s virtually nobody in the league that questions his ability as a passer, scorer and defender in the middle. The only question is his durability. It’s been four years since Bogut played more than 69 games in a season and twice he’s managed only 36 and 12. Coming back from a fractured ankle, he missed the entire preseason schedule and only practiced for the first time on Monday. The Warriors need him on the floor to even think of making a run at the playoffs. (more…)

Suns Looking Within For Improvement

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With the Steve Nash era over and no sign of a Valley of the Sun-themed version of the Big 3 on the horizon, fans of the Phoenix Suns are bracing themselves for a rebuilding project that could be as painstaking a process as they have witnessed in years.

It’s a fact of life for fans of basically every franchise in the NBA (save for the Lakers), and a reality that the Suns organization is tackling in a somewhat unconventional and rather refreshing way.

Instead of scrambling for a quick fix or looking for some superstar to rescue them, the Suns are focusing their attentions within their program and going about the business of trying to build a playoff contender from the inside. They are making player development the staples of their operation, with 17-year NBA veteran Lindsey Hunter leading the charge as the coach in charge of helping develop homegrown talent.

Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic provides some details:

Hunter began working out players this month with more individualized plans to come in September, when voluntary sessions begin.

“We’re trying to put together a system where we’re no longer looking for outside influences to create a better product,” Hunter said. “We want to do it right from the interior. A lot of people say, ‘You got to go get better players,’ which is true. But you have to make what you have better and we’re serious about it now.”

The Suns intend to hire a young former NBA big man and make the staff available to players “24-7,” General Manager Lance Blanks said.

“This is really important to me,” Blanks said. “It’s not something that was needed. What the organization was doing worked. It won at a very high level. Different personnel and situation. This will create a lot of continuity between front office, coaches and training staff.”

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Hot Suns are worthy of discussion





HOUSTONMarcus Camby pulled down 18 rebounds in the first half on Friday night and gave the Suns something to talk about during the intermission.

“It was a discussion,” said coach Alvin Gentry. “Very much a one-way discussion. I think the point was well-taken.”

On the receiving end of the “discussion” were Gentry’s big men, center Marcin Gortat and forward Channing Frye. It was suggested that perhaps someone could possibly do something to make collecting rebounds a little more difficult than plucking daisies on a spring day for Mr. Camby.

So the Suns played with more energy, more urgency, more desperation and Camby didn’t get a single rebound in the second half, while Phoenix got a 112-105 win.

“We just got yelled at,” said Gortat, who finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds. “We just came out harder. Let’s say the first half was just a warmup. There’s not a situation with the team. We’re all committed to winning games.

“Yes, let’s call it a discussion. But there were no issues, no problems at all. I already talked to him four times as soon as the game was over. If the guy grabs 18 rebounds in one half, then someone is not doing his job, someone has got to get yelled out. Unfortunately, it was me. Really, it was a funny situation, a story that you can put in a book.”

If the Suns continue their amazing stretch drive, it could eventually be a chapter in a real-life fairytale. Phoenix appeared dead in the water just over six weeks ago, sitting at 14-20. But now the Suns have reeled off 17 wins in 8 games and are sitting just one game behind Houston for the final playoff spot.

“It was hard not to think of this as a must-win game,” said Steve Nash.

It’s hard to not think of the stretch run of the schedule that way for the Suns. Starting tonight in San Antonio, Phoenix will play six of its last seven games against teams with records above .500, all of whom have something at stake in the West race.

A few days ago, the Rockets appeared to be in good position, but stumbled twice at home. Denver has been up and down. Utah lost on Friday night in New Orleans. The door could be open for the Suns.

With Grant Hill back in the lineup just two weeks after knee surgery, with Nash on top of his game and feeding Gortat, Jared Dudley stepping up and the long-suffering Michael Redd just happy to be able to play and contribute again, would you really bet against the surging Suns?

That’s worth another discussion.

Blogtable: Biggest West Surprises

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Which team most surprises you in the West at this point: Clippers, Jazz or Suns?


Steve Aschburner: Utah. In winning five straight through Tuesday and six of their last seven, the Jazz are navigating close ones and blowouts, high-scoring tilts such as the 113-105 pasting of Cleveland and grinders like their 85-73 victory over Milwaukee last week. The ball is moving – even through notorious stopper Al Jefferson, a great guy with something to prove. They’re also getting quality work from contributors young (Alec Burks, Derrick Favors) and old (Earl Watson, Josh Howard).

Fran Blinebury: After the Jazz opened up the schedule getting clobbered in three of their first four games by an average of 15.6 points, it certainly looked like the first full season P.S. (Post Sloan) was going to bring nothing but misery. Instead coach Tyrone Corbin has shown a stubbornness to stick with the ancient Raja Bell in his starting backcourt and a willingness to let his kiddie corp – Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks — learn on the run. It’s paid off with some fun, aggressive ball.  The Jazz are in deep Northwest Division water with OKC, Portland and Denver, but it looks like they’ll be able to tread water until ready to make a splash in the future.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Slight edge to the Jazz because they have recovered from a slow start despite having the farthest to go. The Clippers were always going to be good and the Suns were always going to be competitive, but Utah has been particularly encouraging with such a young roster. (more…)

The Dunk of The Year (That Wasn’t)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Your legend is safe Timofey Mozgov.

Thanks to the offensive foul called on Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin on this dunk over Suns center Marcin Gortat last night, you can rest easy knowing that you remain Griffin’s most famous victim this season.

Despite Griffin’s protestation to the contrary, Steve Javie felt that Gortat was in place before Griffin elevated over him for the Dunk of the Year (that wasn’t).

For the record, Griffin did take off a good foot and a half from the circle underneath the basket. Gortat was just happy to come away without any cuts or bruises.

“I was just standing there, and I hoped he wasn’t going to crush my face,” he said. “I think it was a good charge. I think it was the right call.”

Suns coach Alvin Gentry didn’t care that the dunk was wiped out by the charge. He also didn’t complain much about Griffin fouling out on the play, with more than four minutes to play in a tight game. But he knows a monster dunk when he sees one.

“That might be as impressive of a dunk as I have seen in the NBA in 23 years,” Gentry said. “I don’t care if it was a charge. … That might be the best dunk he’s had since he was in the league.”

We will have to defer to our main man LeMont Calloway over at the Dunk Ladder and see what he thinks about, coach Gentry. But it was wicked, even if it didn’t count.

Vince close to making Suns debut

LOS ANGELES — Vince Carter is probably no more than a week away from making his Suns debut.

“He’s close,” Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said Sunday. “Probably within the week, I would think. Just not feeling quite there, but a lot closer than he was.”

Carter is dealing with a quad tendon strain and hasn’t played since Dec. 14. The Suns traded for Carter, along with Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus, on Dec. 14 from Orlando. Gentry said speculation of Carter needing surgery was a “worst-case scenario.”

“We always brag on our medical guys and they do a great job,” said Gentry, who could use another scorer in the lineup. “The treatment that they’re given him, he feels a lot better now. Given another three days, five fays, a week, I think he’ll get to the point where he’ll be able to play.”

After facing the Clippers on Sunday, Phoenix plays Wednesday (Philadelphia), Friday (Detroit) and Sunday (Sacramento).

Carter was taking part in some pregame stretching exercises in the locker room with the Suns’ renowned training staff. Head trainer Aaron Nelson and his team have been credited for helping Shaquille O’Neal get back on track health-wise a couple of years back, and for keeping graybeards Grant Hill and Steve Nash in top working order.

Blogtable: Suns in playoffs for sure now?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Pick a winner Saturday and tell us why: Heat or Lakers.

Magic: Better, worse or the same after the big trade?

And …

Suns, playoff team for sure now, or not?

David Aldridge: There’s no guarantee they make the playoffs; Houston is getting its bearing again after losing Yao (again), Portland could yet right the ship, and I haven’t given up on Golden State just yet; the Warriors could be interesting if they could ever stay healthy for more than a week. The Suns are better, if a lot more expensive. (more…)

Some Amore For Amar’e

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – You owe Amar’e Stoudemire an apology and you don’t even realize it.

You were probably one of those people laughing last summer when he held up that No. 1 jersey and proclaimed the “Knicks are back.” It sounded funny at the time, the free agent power forward with the sketchy medical report joining the franchise that had been little more than an afterthought for the past decade.

It didn’t exactly seem like the perfect marriage.

But what you didn’t know, what many of us hadn’t realized, is that we’d miscalculated a few things while Stoudemire was in Phoenix playing alongside Steve Nash and for Mike D’Antoni.

The two-time MVP and the coach of the revolutionary “Seven Seconds or Less” offense were both given the majority of the credit for the Suns’ remarkable, but title-free, run of the past six seasons.

With a chance to examine things in a different light now, it’s clear that Stoudemire was and is the linchpin to that success. He’s been at the center of two franchise revivals in his career, first in Phoenix and now in New York. All that time spent nit-picking about Stoudemire not being a better rebounder or shot blocker was a waste. You should have been concentrating on what he does best, which is win.

And if you need metrics to make you feel better about that, just look a the records of those teams with Stoudemire and without him.

The Suns won 54 games and made the Western Conference finals last season with HT fave Alvin Gentry coaching Nash and Stoudemire. Without him, they’ve faded from the elite scene in the West. They’re sitting at 12-12 and lack a low-post anchor (with all apologies to Robin Lopez and Channing Frye) for Nash and a talented cast of shooters to work around.

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Mystery Team Theater

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – A month into most any relationship you should have some ideas about who and what you are dealing with, per our good friend Dr. Phil.

There shouldn’t be any surprises after that first month, no skeletons tumbling out of the closet and basically what you see by then is what you get.

So why are we still struggling to figure out certain teams around the league?

And no, we’re not talking about the usual suspects around here (we’re giving the Heat, Lakers, Celtics and Clippers the day off). There are other teams that astound us (in good ways and bad) that are tough to make sense of on the eve of Thanksgiving.

So welcome to Hang Time’s Mystery Team Theater, where we try to make sense of teams that continue to puzzle us:

DALLAS MAVERICKS

Last 10 Games: 7-3

The Skinny: They needed their highest scoring fourth quarter of the season, and yet another sterling performance from Dirk Nowitzki, to slide past the Pistons. We watched them take apart the suddenly hapless Hawks Saturday night. But there’s something about this team that makes us think they’re going to be a major (dark horse) factor in the Western Conference playoff mix. All the work done in the offseason to beef up the bench seems to have worked. That Brendan Hawyood-Tyson Chandler combo at center also presents a very interesting challenge for a team like the Lakers or Spurs, if these teams were to meet up in the postseason. Back to the here and now, though. Rick Carlisle‘s teams are always good on the defensive end and he has a knack for pushing underrated teams to surpass expectations. For reasons we cannot figure out, few people consider this team a contender in the Western Conference. We’d like to go on record now about this team: they are going to spoil someone’s postseason plans (in much the same way their have been spoiled in recent years by Golden State and New Orleans).

NEXT UP: Dallas at Oklahoma City, tonight at 8 p.m. ET

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