With all the turmoil swirling around the Suns this offseason, it is easy for some issues to be forgotten. A complete retooling of both the roster and the front office has created a hefty list of adjustments that need to be made for this oncoming season. Luckily, there will be consistency on one front.
The man who will get to bring the Suns' numerous pieces together was given a chance to exhale on Thursday, as the Suns awarded head coach Alvin Gentry a much-needed contract extension. The deal will keep him in Phoenix through the 2012-2013 season.
Alvin provided a breath of fresh air when he was given the gig halfway through the 08-09 season, bringing the fans respite from the constant doom and gloom that surrounded the surly Terry Porter. His impact was felt immediately, as the Suns won his first three games on the job in outrageous fashion, piling up 140, 142, and 140 points in succession.
Throughout the past two years, Gentry has proven himself to be a different kind of coach than the Suns are used to. His methods are revolutionary, by Phoenix standards. By eschewing the eight man rotations of his predecessors and focusing on player and bench development, Alvin has transformed an old, broken down team into a youthful squad brimming with potential and the ability to go ten-deep.
Last season, against all odds, he led the underdog Suns all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
By all accounts, Gentry has reignited the Valley's interest in their favorite basketball team. Even when he eats some bad deep-fried artichoke, Alvin shines through as an endearing and respectful leader. Congrats to the big man on his new paycheck.
Official Press Release
SUNS SIGN GENTRY TO CONTRACT EXTENSION
Phoenix head coach signed through 2012-13
PHOENIX - The Phoenix Suns signed head coach Alvin Gentry to a contract extension that will keep him with the club through the 2012-13 season.
"It was important to extend Alvin's contract before this season," said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. "He proved his mettle as the perfect coach for the Suns last season. We are excited to have him lead our team going forward."
Originally elevated as the 14th head coach in franchise history on an interim basis on Feb. 16, 2009, Gentry was named the club's head coach on May 9, 2009. In just 113 games under his leadership, Gentry's Suns have compiled a 72-41 (.637) record, giving him the third-highest winning percentage among coaches in franchise history (Paul Westphal, Mike D'Antoni).
"This extension gives me the opportunity to keep improving this team," said Gentry. "It shows I'm working for an owner who wants to win and demonstrates the confidence he has in me. I am really happy to be working with the management team we have in place and am very excited for the start of our new season."
The 30-year coaching veteran in both the professional and collegiate ranks took the reins of the Suns in 2009 with the stated goals of establishing a homecourt advantage, returning the club to its trademark offensive explosiveness, and developing a young, productive bench.
In just a season-plus under his leadership, the Suns own a 46-12 (.793) home mark, seventh-best of any NBA team in that span, and perhaps most impressively are 31-6 (.838) at home against the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Phoenix has led the NBA in scoring in each of the last two seasons and averaged 112.3 points during his tenure, even more than the trendsetting Suns posted from 2004-05 to 2007-08 (109.8). In 2009-10, the Suns bench ranked 10th in the NBA, averaging 33.2 points. Gentry and the bench gained national attention during the playoffs when the group increased its scoring average to 34.1 points, best in the NBA, as Gentry played 10 or more Suns in 16-straight postseason games for the first time since 1993.
In his first full season on the bench in 2009-10, Gentry was a two-time NBA Western Conference Coach of the Month for November 2009 and March 2010. In leading the Suns to 54 wins, his career-high as a coach, and the conference's third-best record, Gentry finished fifth in NBA Coach of the Year voting.
Gentry became just the fifth head coach in franchise history to lead his team to a Western Conference Finals berth in his first full season. Gentry coached the Suns to 10 postseason victories in 2010, tied for the second-most in a single postseason in franchise history.
In 21 seasons in the NBA, Gentry has enjoyed three other head coaching stints with the Los Angeles Clippers (2000-03), Detroit Pistons (1997-2000) and Miami Heat (1995). He has worked alongside some of the game's most respected coaches, including Larry Brown, Kevin Loughery, Doug Collins and Mike D'Antoni. Gentry joined the Suns organization as an assistant coach on June 1, 2004.
A point guard at Appalachian State under Press Maravich and Bobby Cremins, Gentry earned a degree in management in 1997 and began his coaching career as a graduate assistsant at the University of Colorado the following season.
The 55-year-old Gentry is married to Suzanne and has three children: Alexis, Ryan and Matthew.