New_phoenix_suns__interim__head_coach_lindsey_hunter_and_general_manager_lance_blanks_at_practice_january_20th__2013

For roughly a week the U.S. Airways Center has been an icebox in preparation of Disney on Ice coming to town to entertain the kids of the Valley. That frigid, icy nature created an aura as well as a ripple effect with the Phoenix Suns (13-28) to come to a "mutual decision" with now former head coach Alvin Gentry to part ways.

That has been covered with ferocity and quality over the past 48 hours here on Bright Side.

Now, at least for the next 41 games, head of player development Lindsey Hunter takes over the reigns as head coach. Some feel that this was the plan all along albeit a little earlier than expected, but when Lance Blanks and company brought Hunter on they saw him as a future head coach in this league.

Welcome Lindsey Hunter?

There is nothing to say of Hunter as a head coach or a coach in general, this is his first time on the sidelines. This season he has served as the head of player development and sat on the bench for games, but he is yet to be seen as a strategist or a tactician.

One thing does work in his favor however and that is that he has played for a litany of head coaches with unparalleled track records.

He spoke about the former coaches he has played for and how he plans on grasping at different elements of what made them successful to eventually become the coach he will be.

Utilizing a defensive strategy will naturally be Hunter's first approach and maybe his defining quality as a well known defender in the NBA for 17 years including an NBA Championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. He spoke to that as the first thing that comes to mind on what he wants to fix with this team. The pieces are in place to be a good defensive team, but that requires a sacrifice on the offensive end.

Developing the teams defense as well as the young players will be important this season.

This is a very dangerous move and sets an uneasy precedent of a player development coach jumping not just the assistants, but the lead assistant to get on as the interim head coach. The Suns are walking a fine line of alienation towards their coaches. It is not a move that can be judged on the surface, for all we know Hunter could develop into one of the next great head coaches. Letting this play out will let the Suns see on a daily basis if this is their guy past 41 games.

Goodbye Thunder Dan?

From the looks of practice it looks like Dan Majerle and lead assistant Elston Turner took the news of Hunter becoming the head coach the hardest. Neither were participants in the practice and Majerle was not in the building. As an outsider looking in the coaching staff will likely be filled with Igor Kokoslov, Corey Gaines, and Noel Gillespie for the remainder of the season.

Hunter on his staff, "It is still up in the air. Right now I am not at liberty to speak about it."

Turner has an "in" with the Milwaukee Bucks so keep an eye on that if he officially leaves and Majerle has his restaurants if he decides to hang-up the whistle for the time being. That will be a shock to the fans of the valley as Majerle is embedded with the community.

UPDATE: Sean Rooks has also left the team to coach overseas.

Coach Hunters First Words:

As the media scrummed around the new interim head coach for the Suns he had to adjust his eyes to not only the amount of microphones in his face, but also the bright lights that are literally and figuratively now on him for the second half of the season.

I am a little overwhelmed right now, a little tired, but today was fun. If you don't know by now I am a basketball junkie. This is my ideal situation. It was a good day, first day of practicing and I think the guys enjoyed it. The guys played hard and it was fun. It was fun.

More Coach Hunter on if this was what he envisioned, to become a head coach:

Always. I have always thought since high school considered myself a coach on the floor. I have always had really tough coaches that demanded that, i embraced it, and I enjoyed it.

Coach Hunter

We're developing everybody. I am developing, the assistant coaches are developing, and every player will be developing. If they come out and they work hard and do what is asked of them then they will play. If you do what you are supposed to do then you will get on the court. If you don't, then your time will probably be a little limited, but I think everyone wants to play ultimately and we will try to get them there.

The 2013 NBA Draft Update

As of today the team is slotted in the 4th spot and the 11th spot in the draft if it were to happen today. The 11th pick comes via the Los Angeles Lakers who are playing sub-playoff quality basketball hence the swap of the pick.

The Suns would also receive the Memphis Grizzlies pick (No. 26) today.

Here are the players they are taking in the current Mock Draft (The Mock does not reflect current standings:

At No. 4 - Shabazz Muhammad

At No. 11 - Dario Saric

At No. 26 - Jeff Withey

Updated 12:10 a.m. — Lindsey Hunter is the next man up. The Phoenix Suns announced on Sunday morning that the player development coordinator will take over after head coach Alvin Gentry and...

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Lindsey Hunter is the guy to lead this leaking ship to harbor. He's the newest member of the staff and has jumped over long-tenured assistants, Elston Turner and Igor Kokoskov or even Dan Majerle. Hunter was reportedly a finalist for the job in Orlando that ultimately went to another former point guard with no experience, Jacque Vaughn.

Here's the official announcement from the USAC Puzzle Palace:

SUNS NAME HUNTER INTERIM HEAD COACH | THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE PHOENIX SUNS
The Phoenix Suns have named former NBA player and Suns Player Development Coordinator Lindsey Hunter the club’s interim head coach, the team announced today.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that a front office led by guys with no experience in their jobs would pick the guy with the least experience for the job. That's not to say all of them won't do well, it's just a fact. Experience seems to count for little in the mind of Robert Sarver.

So be it.

Here's more on his long resume (as a player):

A 17-year NBA veteran as a player, Hunter retired following the 2009-10 season after a successful career with Detroit (1993-00, 2003-08), Milwaukee (2000-01), the LA Lakers (2001-02), Toronto (2002-03) and Chicago (2008-10). A two-time NBA champion with the Lakers (2001-02) and Pistons (2003-04), Hunter's teams made 12 playoff appearances in 17 seasons overall. Originally selected with the 10th overall pick of 1993 NBA Draft, the 6-2, 195-pound former guard averaged 8.5 points, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals in 937 career games (438 starts).

Hunter joined the Suns' scouting department in 2012 and this season served as the coordinator of the organization's newly-formed player development department. He served in a similar post with the Chicago Bulls following his retirement.

Are you happy? Does it matter?

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Do you approve of Lindsey Hunter being named as the next Suns coach (interim style)?

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The news of Alvin Gentry’s departure was nothing but a shock, and now things change a bit for the Phoenix Suns as they move on to the second half of the season. The full ValleyoftheSuns crew,...

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With a week dominated by the news of the Phoenix Suns parting ways with head coach Alvin Gentry, and the admission that the team will begin focusing on developing their young players, it's difficult to focus on the performance of the individual players during the two losses that took place before hand.

Still, even with everything still up in the air, the Suns will continue to push forward as they try to find the right mix of personnel to make the best out of what looks to be a dire situation. Even if their post-season hopes are all but gone at this point, the Suns still have a number of young players they may want to evaluate with extended minutes in the coming months to see what they have going forward.

When the dust finally starts to settle, the coaching staff and front office will be looking closely at who is helping the team, and who may be holding them back. Here's a look at this week's player rankings the way I saw them:

1. Marcin Gortat

Weekly Average: 13 points, 10 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.5 blocks in 37 minutes of play

Gortat had an awesome game against the Thunder scoring 19 points and grabbing 15 rebounds against Kendrick Perkins in 46 minutes of play. Although he wasn't nearly as effective against the Milwaukee Bucks (Only 7 points and 5 rebounds in 29 minutes), he still played well enough overall to hold onto the top spot.

2. Shannon Brown

Weekly Average: 20 points, 4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.5 steals in 36 minutes of play

Brown had a very good week, especially when filling in for the injured Jared Dudley in the starting line-up against the Thunder. Brown went 17-33 from the field overall, but also got to the basket more for some nice dunks that we haven't seen nearly enough of lately. When Brown is playing well, he's a game changer. Let's hope it continues.

3. Jared Dudley

Weekly Average: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals in 32 minutes of play

Dudley did not play against the Thunder due to a sprained wrist, so his stat line comes off of only one game against the Bucks. Still, Dudley continues to show his versatility and ability to help the team in a variety of ways.

4. Luis Scola

Weekly Average: 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assist in 30 minutes of play

Scola continues to provide the Suns with veteran savvy and hustle, and has become one of the most consistent mid-range shooters on the team. What Scola lacks on the defensive end of the court he makes up for with his crafty play and sure-fire jumpers from the top of the key on offense.

5. P.J. Tucker

Weekly Average: 5 points, 4 rebounds in 24 minutes of play

Tucker continues to give the Suns all of the intangibles that simply don't find their way onto a stat sheet. He did a pretty good job of at least containing Durant while guarding him, which is no small task.

6. Markieff Morris

Weekly Average: 3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1 block, 1 steal in 16 minutes of play

Morris hasn't been efficient from the field on offense (3-12 for the week), but I'm really liking what I'm seeing from him lately. He is fighting and hustling for rebounds, getting into the passing lanes, and challenging the opposition in the post. Morris is doing a little bit of everything out there and helping the Suns much more than his stat line is letting on.

7. Goran Dragic

Weekly Average: 10 points, 2.5 assists, 1.5 rebounds, 1 steal in 31.5 minutes of play

Apparently Dragic has been hindered by a sore ankle which has supposedly hindered his play as of late. Well, let's hope that's the issue, because Goran has been anything but the Dragon fans have expected him to be. Not only did his scoring and especially his passing take a huge hit, but he was outplayed by both Westbrook and Jennings who posted stats of 36/5/8 and 16/4/5 respectively. I'm willing to give Dragic the benefit of the doubt though, for now, but he's got to get it going again, and soon.

8. Sebastian Telfair

Weekly Average: 9 points, 1.5 assists, and 2 rebound in 19 minutes of play

Telfair shot the ball much better overall this week (6-13) but his passing and play-making took a step back as he averaged just as many turnovers as he did assists. Still, Telfair is doing pretty well as a back-up and leader of the second unit.

9. Michael Beasley

Weekly Average: 9.5 points, 7 rebounds in 20 minutes of play

Beasley once again had a fairly decent game against the Thunder scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 boards, but he was disappointing against the Bucks scoring only 5 points on 2-10 shooting and managing to corral only 3 rebounds. Still, Beasley is showing at least a little improvement, and I'm still hopeful he can eventually find a way to make a positive impact on this team on a consistent basis.

10. Jermaine O'Neal

Weekly Average: 7 points, 4 rebounds in 15 minutes of play

O'Neal was out with back spasms against the Thunder, but returned against the Bucks and seemed to play relatively well in his limited minutes. O'Neal isn't sitting at the bottom of the rankings again this week due to poor play as much as he is for a lack of impact...which isn't really his fault with being injured for one game and playing limited minutes in the other.

So there you have it...Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments below!

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