Despite report, Gentry's job appears safe
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."
This 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.
After 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 cameo.
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 place.
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 bounced.
With that on the table, please note that anything can happen in professional sports.
BROWNS ARE LOOKING SHARP
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 record.
Sterling, a junior at Proviso East, is Shannon's younger brother and goes about 6-foot-5.
"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 class.
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 weekend.
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 Orleans.
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.