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Lindsey Hunter introduced as Suns head coach, details emerge on reasons the team made a change

Jan 21, 2013, 12:10 PM EDT

Lindsey Hunter, Lon Babby

PHOENIX — Lindsey Hunter met the media on the Suns practice court Sunday, just hours after formally being offered the position of interim head coach and running the team through practice.

Almost two full days after Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby held a press conference but didn’t offer up a lot in terms of reasons why Alvin Gentry and the team parted ways, GM Lance Blanks hinted at some internal things that were going on behind the scenes that led management in that direction.

When asked how Hunter’s success would be measured the rest of the season, Blanks pointed to off-the-court ideals rather than wins and losses as things the team is looking to see improve under its interim head coach.

“Some of the success will be in ways that you may not be able to see with the naked eye,” Blanks said. “First off, we’ve got to look at the culture and the environment, which you may not be able to see when you’re watching the game. Because I think the team has played pretty hard for most of the season. but at the same time, in the back we’ve seen guys become more disappointed than we would like.

“We’ve seen a culture where the guys haven’t been as responsive as we would like, so we’ll be measuring that right out of the gate,” Blanks said. “We saw an uptick already in practice with the way that things were conducted [this morning].”

Hunter’s first practice was full of all the team’s players, but noticeably absent were two prominent assistant coaches under Gentry in Elston Turner and Dan Majerle. While Blanks said that all of Gentry’s assistants were offered the opportunity to stay through the end of the season, only Igor Kokoskov and Noel Gillespie, along with player development coach Ralph Sampson were seen in the gym putting players through workouts.

Turner was Gentry’s lead assistant, so it would be understandable if he was upset about being passed over for the interim spot in favor of someone with zero NBA coaching experience. And while Majerle may not have been the favorite to replace Gentry, if he does have future head coaching aspirations, it would be tough to see him being pleased with the decision to go with someone who he may not be able to learn as much from as as he would from a more tenured head coach.

As far as the reason given for the selection of Hunter, Blanks said they needed to go in a direction that would shake things up.

“The simple answer is that the organization needed a jolt,” Blanks said. “We needed something that would shock the systems of us, the players, and risk trumps safety in this business. And we felt this was the right person to take the risk on.”

There’s no question that Hunter will be learning on the job, and Blanks mentioned that the team will look to add a veteran coach either on or behind the bench to assist Hunter through the transition. But the Suns feel that his strong personality will hold players more accountable than they’ve been in the past, and that will lead to a positive culture the team can build around.

When asked what qualities he possesses that make him a good coach, Hunter was honest and humble in his response.

“We don’t know if I’m a good coach yet, right,” he said. “It remains to be seen. But I just think playing as long as I did and growing up around the game, I think that in itself has prepared me. Being a basketball junkie my entire life has prepared me. When I got here Lon and Lance were like, you have a Ph.D. in basketball. And that’s kind of how I look at it. My entire life has been surrounded by this game.”

  1. sunsation3413 - Jan 21, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Are you kidding me? This franchise is officially in the toilet with no way out. To pass over all the guys with much experience and hire a guy who has never coached or even been an assistant is ridiculous. I cant blame Turner or Majerle for being pissed and leaving. Lon Babble and Robert $aver are the laughing stock of the league. Their poor decisions over the past few years have taken a winning franchise to the bottom for years to come. Shame on you!

  2. lovinthatsomanyhateonnd - Jan 21, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    lol ill tell you the jolt we really need…GET RID OF SARVER!!!! UGH he has now completed his masterpiece of destroying a team that once was in the playoffs every year….

  3. smoochytherhino - Jan 21, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Did they seriously not make Suns legend Dan Majerle the coach in favor of former fairly decent Pistons guard Lindsey Hunter?

    Nothing against Hunter, he might be a great coach, and Majerle may be a bad coach, but for a team that pretty much sucks this doesn’t seem like the best move for drumming up fan interest.

  4. askyeshua - Jan 21, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Whoa! Even though many around the league have been singing the praises of Lindsey Hunter as a future Head Coach, I did not expect it to happen this fast!

  5. mrlitl - Jan 21, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Lindsey Hunter was just an ok player. So he may be an awesome coach.

  6. diehardcard - Jan 21, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    Robert Sarver= Worse than Donald Sterling.

    What an accomplishment?

  7. djjackson81 - Jan 22, 2013 at 2:37 AM

    Worst coach worst players equal good draft and hopefully all new picks top ten next few years

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