Despite report, Gentry likely safe

April 2, 2012

We're always grateful for tips from national writers that assist in our
tracking of the Phoenix Suns.

Over the weekend, one
longtime NBA insider informed the readers of his New York newspaper (and
its website) that Suns coach Alvin Gentry could be on the cusp of goner
status. According to the report, Alvin -- despite achieving success
relative to the caliber of the team's roster -- "might not be rehired
when his contract expires at season's end."

important bit of information did not include a reminder that Gentry's
contract expires at the end of next season. Of
course, this inconvenient notion doesn't mean Alvin is guaranteed to
return after this season. But it's difficult to imagine owner Robert
Sarver paying Gentry to go away early, especially since the franchise
frequently has acknowledged that the shaky foundation of this season's
roster was provoked by a commitment to maintaining financial flexibility
for future acquisitions.

Bill Parcells once declared
that building a winning team is a lot easier if the coach is cooking
the meal after being allowed to shop for the groceries. In Gentry's
current situation, he's attempting to whip up a playoff-caliber meal
from foil-covered goodies tucked inside the refrigerator. And the team
won't be going to the store (Fry's, based on franchise sponsorship
concerns) for fresh supplies until this summer.

subpar performances from several players wrecked this season's early
stages, Alvin and the Suns have punched their way into the playoff fight
since the All-Star break. For that, Gentry, the coaching staff and the
players deserve to take a quick bow.

But it also
should be noted that keeping Alvin around probably won't hurt the Suns'
effort to recruit Steve Nash during this summer's potential free-agent
apocalypse. Nash obviously is comfortable with Gentry and the style of
offense that's been restored since the Terry Porter

If Gentry goes away, it's doubtful another
head coach with a Nash-friendly, spread-court system would be hired in
his place. General manager Lance Blanks cut his front-office teeth in
San Antonio and Cleveland (which became the San Antonio of Ohio), so
expect any future hire to reflect a more conventional NBA style ... as
long as the current front-office regime is in

The contract extension bestowed upon Gentry
last year came after Blanks and president of basketball operations Lon
Babby were in place. While they certainly didn't bring Alvin to Phoenix,
they were at least part of the decision to prolong his run. That could
count for something in Alvin's favor.

So, with the
franchise's true commitment to keeping Nash in Phoenix as the caveat,
don't hold your breath waiting for Gentry to be

With that on the table, please note that
anything can happen in professional


Three nights before Suns guard
Shannon Brown scored a career-high 32 points against the San Antonio
Spurs, Sterling Brown provided a similar performance in an attempt to
help Proviso East High (Maywood, Ill.) finish its season with a perfect

Sterling, a junior at Proviso East, is
Shannon's younger brother and goes about

"He has a really good feel for the game
already," Shannon said of his younger brother. "More than I had at that
age. I was just pure aggression."

Sterling was a pure
scorer in the Illinois big-school state title game, dropping 25 points
on Chicago Simeon in a 50-48 defeat. By the way, Simeon's star player is
6-8 junior Jabari Parker, considered by some talent evaluators to be
the nation's best high school player regardless of

Behind Parker, Simeon finished the season
32-1, its only defeat administered by Findlay Prep from Henderson, Nev.,
which won the National High School Invitational last

Proviso East dropped to 33-1 in its first
season under coach Donnie Boyce.

Boyce (University of
Colorado, second-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks) was a teammate of
former Suns star Michael Finley and Sherrell Ford (first-round pick of
the Seattle SuperSonics) at Proviso East, which has a supplied a steady
parade of talent to college and professional basketball. The list of
standout Pirates includes Shannon, former NBA player Jim Brewer, current
Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, former Suns player Steven Hunter,
ex-University of Illinois guard Dee Brown and former Kansas State star
Jacob Pullen.

And while we're touting the Brown
family's skills, Shannon's wife Monica sang a stirring rendition of the
national anthem before the the Final Four tip-off in New


Former Suns backup point guard
Goran Dragic has flourished for the Houston Rockets during the absence
of starter Kyle Lowry.

In his last 15 appearances as a
starter, Dragic has knocked in an average of 16.8 points (on 57 percent
shooting) and eight assists per game. For the season, Goran is
averaging 9.8 points and 4.7 assists. He'll be a restricted free agent
this summer.

The Rockets are only 7-8 in those 15
games, however, reminding us that having two really good point guards is
better than having one.