The Phoenix Suns and head coach Alvin Gentry mutually agreed to part ways Friday morning, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. The Suns stumbled to a 13-28 record on Gentry's watch—the worst mark in the Western Conference—to start the 2012-13 NBA season.
Whether Gentry deserved to go is and likely will remain a topic of some debate. Gentry led the Suns to but one playoff berth in three-and-a-half seasons on the job prior to the current campaign. But the team's management—led by owner Robert Sarver, president of basketball operations Lon Babby and general manager Lance Blanks—had done him few favors from a personnel standpoint.
Phoenix had long prioritized shedding salary over retaining talent, thereby opening up a steady drain of quality players over the years.
This past summer, the Suns opted to part ways with longtime franchise cornerstone Steve Nash, who now plays for the rival Los Angeles Lakers. To "replace" Nash, the Suns signed former Phoenix backup Goran Dragic, who's performed admirably well (14 points and 6.1 assists in 32.2 minutes per game) in Nash's stead. Not that the cast around Dragic has exactly been solid gold.
The team also went about refreshing its roster by signing Luis Scola off the amnesty waiver wire and Jermaine O'Neal off the scrap heap, throwing $18 million at career nincompoop Michael Beasley, trading for fellow NBA draft bust Wesley Johnson, and trying, but ultimately failing, to sign oft-injured shooting guard Eric Gordon away from the New Orleans Hornets.
This leaves the losing on Gentry's ledger, since that roster is clearly one competent enough to compete for the playoffs out west...right?
That aside, the Suns are expected to name an interim coach within the next day or so, with assistants Elston Turner and Lindsey Hunter the top candidates to take over, and Hunter the most likely to get the gig, per Sam Amick of USA Today.
But who else might hear from the Suns in the months to come? And where would Turner and Hunter rank among that list of other potential long-term solutions to the coaching "problem" in the Valley of the Sun?
And no, Phil Jackson isn't on the list; if ownership is too frugal to pay its players, then what reason is there to imagine that it'd shell out tens of millions for the greatest coach in the history of the sport?