Were the Suns Spying on Alvin Gentry Before Replacing Him with Lindsey Hunter?

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 24:  Head coach Lindsey Hunter of the Phoenix Suns talks with P.J. Tucker #17 during the NBA game against the Los Angeles Clippers at US Airways Center on January 24, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Clippers 93-88.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns have won two of their first three games since firing Alvin Gentry and replacing him with Lindsey Hunter, and it seems that there may have been some foul play on the part of the Suns, if reports are to be believed.

Information has leaked from inside the Suns organization that Hunter was most likely used as a spy into the day-to-day work of Gentry by Suns management.

Suns insiders say that Gentry more than once had Hunter removed from practices when Hunter was serving in his role as a first-year player development coordinator. Hunter was regarded as a spy for the front office, which was all but confirmed after the Suns fired Gentry and tabbed Hunter over Gentry’s longtime assistants, Elston Turner and Dan Majerle, each of whom was more deserving for the interim post.

Hunter's hiring is quite suspicious, especially when taking a look at Elston Turner and Dan Majerle, both of whom had plenty of qualifications to earn the interim head coaching job in Phoenix.

Turner has years of experience as an assistant, coaching with the Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers and the Phoenix Suns. Of course, he's also been turned down for head coaching positions with the Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers and the Trail Blazers, so perhaps he just doesn't have the head coaching bone in him.

Even still, Turner was upset with the Suns that he was passed over in consideration for the open gig, and he and Phoenix parted ways.

The impression that I got was that it may be tough to find a spot for a 16-year veteran with 15 straight years of winning experience.

Potentially more egregious, Phoenix also parted ways with long-time assistant Majerle, with Majerle seemingly more upset that Turner was passed over than he was upset about himself being passed over.

The first thing that disappoints me is usually in a situation like this, the interim gets the jobs and that is Elston (Turner) with his 14 years of experience. Once he didn't get it, I thought I deserved it. The thing I keep hearing management say on the radio is that hiring me would've been the popular and easy thing to do. I earned it. I deserved a shot if it's not going to be Elston. I coached five-and-a-half years. I coached the summer leagues. I didn't need a favor. Picking Elston would've been the easy thing to do.

Majerle, of course, spent his first seven seasons as a player with the Suns, along with his final season and was a member of the Suns coaching staff since 2008.

The apparent coup by Hunter definitely points to some foul play by the front office, as hiring either Turner or Majerle would have been the easy and popular solution, and the Suns' record would probably look no different by season's end.

It definitely makes the next few months and the offseason interesting for Phoenix as we'll see just how much control the front office has over the coaching staff.