While immediate speculation regarding a replacement for deposed Suns coach Alvin Gentry has centered on assistant coach Elston Turner and player development assistant Lindsey Hunter, at least one player is pining for a bigger name.
Suns center Marcin Gortat, who came to Phoenix in a trade with Orlando during the 2010 season, has made multiple references on Twitter to Stan Van Gundy, who coached Gortat with the Magic and is currently unemployed despite a 371-208 record in his eight-year career.
Gortat actually played sparingly under Van Gundy in Orlando — never more than 15.8 minutes per game, never scoring more than 4.0 points per game — but that was due in large part to the presence of one Dwight Howard. Gortat has since solidified himself as a legitimate player in Phoenix, averaging a double-double last season (15.4 points, 10.0 rebounds). His numbers are a bit down this season (11.6 points, 9.0 rebounds) following the departure of Steve Nash, though, and he has made comments this season critical of his diminished role in the offense.
As for the Suns, there has been no mention of an outside coaching hire for now; an interim coach is to be named “in 24 to 48 hours,” according to the team’s announcement of Gentry’s departure. But with a 13-28 record at the season’s midway point and a high lottery pick all but inevitable, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that a new — and more established — voice might be sought by the Suns in the offseason, if for no other reason than to give the fan base reason to get excited following what’s likely to be one of the worst seasons in franchise history and the Suns’ third consecutive season without a playoff appearance.
Keep in mind that Van Gundy advanced to the playoffs in all of his full seven seasons as coach, making one NBA Finals appearance and two trips to the conference finals. Of course, he had slightly better personnel to work with in Miami and Orlando than Phoenix can currently offer, but Gortat’s just sayin’.