The details of this case are somewhat confusing, but it appears that Lindsey Hunter was alleged to have participated in a 2007 real estate transaction that caught the attention of federal investigators. According to reports going back to 2008, Hunter, along with a partner (Ivan Johnson), participated in a scheme that allowed a former school maintenance worker (Bruce McClellan) to purchase a $1.2m Michigan home.
Per McClellan's account, Hunter was actively involved in the deal and added McClellan to his bank account to help facilitate the transaction. McClellan's attorney confirmed today that the FBI investigation is on-going. He expressed hope that the investigation would be concluded within six months.
Background on the story can be found in these previous reports:
From SB Nation's Detroit Bad Boys:
So far, Wayne County investigators consider (Hunter) a victim, with someone else serving as what they describe as "a mastermind."
The FBI, on the other hand, according to sources close to its investigation, has him as its main focus and as a leading participant in at least two possibly fraudulent deals that went awry.
Details of the alleged fraud can be found in this 2008 account from Bruce McClellan:
Lindsey Hunter and Mortgage Fraud
According to Lindsay Hunter and Ivan Johnson, the deal involved buying a $1.2 Million home and selling it for $2.1 Million to a buyer Lindsey and Ivan had already identified and received a commitment from to buy the house.
All I needed to do, Ivan and Lindsey told me, was apply for the home loan for the $1.2 Million purchase, and they’d handle the rest. When I expressed doubt about my ability to qualify for a $1.2 Million loan, both men told me not to worry, that they would handle everything. Once again, as I did when Ivan first told me about Lindsey Hunter and L&I Enterprises, I expressed my concern for only working on legitimate deals and keeping my good credit in good standing.
Again, both men told me I had nothing to be concerned about. For a man making less than $45,000 a year, what Lindsay Hunter was telling me was quite appealing, as was the star treatment I was receiving from a well-known veteran NBA player.
In a 2011 story published by My TV20 in Detroit has additional information, including a statement from Hunter's attorney proclaiming his innocence.
Deano Ware an attorney for the Hunter's, issued this statement:
"While we are unable to comment on the specific facts involved in this matter because of the likelihood of potential litigation, Mr. Hunter emphatically denies any involvement in any wrongdoing on the part of other members of L&I Enterprises Inc.
"Mr. Hunter was strictly a silent partner of L&I Enterprises Inc. who relied upon representations made to him by individuals he believed in and trusted. He subsequently discovered the representations to be untrue. Immediately upon doing so, Mr. Hunter terminated any and all dealings he had with those individuals and L&I Enterprises Inc.
"Mr. Hunter is presently exploring any and all legal options available to him to defend his name and reputation against the allegations made against him including filing charges with the Wayne County Sheriffs Department."
Hunter regarding FBI investigation, "That's been like dead, years. Nothing was ever brought up against me or anybody else."
The federal investigation, however, remains open. Here's the video:
According to the guys who get all the inside scoop before anyone else does, it looks like long time loyalist Dan Majerle has left the organization while lead assistant Elston Turner is still considering his options.
Since being booed on draft night in 1988, Dan Majerle has won and held the hearts of many a Suns fan over the past 24 years. First he played on the resurgent Suns' KJ/Chambers teams that brought the team out of the drug mess, continuing with the Barkley-led teams that almost won a ring.
He was voted a starter for the 1995 All-Star game (one of 3 overall selections) as a three-point shooter and defensive specialist type amid trade rumors as the Suns were trying to move past the disappointing Finals and playoff losses that marred an otherwise wonderful run for the Suns.
He was finally traded in October of that year to bring back a needed big man (John "Hot Rod" Williams), played several more seasons for other teams, before closing out his playing career in Phoenix and retiring in 2002. He was hired as an assistant coach by interim-turned-permanent head coach Alvin Gentry in the summer of 2008 and has served under Alvin since.
That's 12 years of loyalty to the Suns gone in the blink of an eye.
Much like when Steve Kerr's right-hand man David Griffin left the organization along with his boss, so has Dan Majerle left in the wake of Alvin Gentry's "parting of the ways".
While it's disconcerting that a loyalist has left the organization despite being offered an opportunity to stay, it's not like Majerle was a hot commodity among coaching circles. He got as many head-coaching sniffs as Lindsey Hunter (1) despite being retired for a decade and a Suns assistant coach for several years.
I don't mean to sound disloyal to Dan, but you don't give promotions to people just because they "put in the work". It's moves like those that get you fired.
Of course, hiring Lindsey Hunter can get you fired too, so there's that.
Regarding the other erstwhile coaching finalist, Elston Turner is apparently still mulling his options to return versus leaving the organization entirely. He's been on-site, talking to Suns brass and Hunter daily but has not stepped onto the practice floor since Hunter was hired.
Some around the NBA feel sorry for Turner because he wasn't let out of his brand new contract last year to follow Rick Adelman to Minnesota, now only to be passed over for the Suns top job.
Um, excuse me. That's a load of BS.
I do not have inside information on either Dan Majerle or Elston Turner, so take the remainder of this article with that grain of salt. I don't know if the Suns brass literally kicked these guys in the pants, or if they verbally berated them and made them feel bad. I don't know any of this.
All I know is the facts: that both guys have guaranteed contracts to be assistant coaches for the NBA Phoenix Suns franchise, that those contracts run through the end of this season (41 more games), that those contracts are guaranteed income in exchange for work and that those contracts did not guarantee promotion at the first available opportunity.
There's this thing I like to call professionalism. Turner signed a two-year contract to be lead assistant with the Suns before the lockout started when he and Adelman were out of work. Why would Turner, before ever taking the court, ask to be let out of that contract to work with someone else? And why would the Suns say, "Sure, go right ahead Elston. Nice not knowing ya!"
And now, the Suns "owe" him a promotion because they simply required him to honor his assistant coaching contract that he signed of his own volition? What?
Anyway, now Turner is waffling on working the remainder of his guaranteed contract.
Lindsey Hunter, for his part, is having none of it.
"That will kind of play itself out," he said when asked about Hunter and Majerle after practice on Tuesday. "I am concerned about our team, our players.
"We're fine right now."
Igor Kokoskov, for one, believes in honoring his contract with the Suns and never once considered refusing to show up on Sunday when he didn't get the head job. It wasn't even a question for him, like it was for those others under the same guaranteed contract to be an assistant coach for the NBA Phoenix Suns.
Sure there's loyalty and there's ego stroking involved in these things. I'd be butt-hurt too if I thought I deserved something more than someone else did, but didn't get the job. And if I had enough money in the bank, I'd consider walking out the door and slamming it in the guy's face who didn't have the intelligence to hire me.
But I'll also tell you this: karma is a bitch.
You walk out and refuse to honor your obligations because you weren't promoted at the first opportunity, and that sticks with you. It's not on your resume, but it's on your resume.
Other front offices see this and they have to have conversations with you and others and themselves to decide who's most at fault for the walk-out. Here's the huge problem: they spend more time talking about that than your qualifications.
Majerle and Turner have to count on every future employer making a value judgment in their favor. There's a gigantic measure of faith involved to absolve Majerle or Turner of all wrongdoing by leaving their contracts. And if you can't absolutely absolve them of disloyalty, of their lack of professionalism in completing their contracts, then you can't hire them yourself. How can a future employer know that these guys will finish their next contract unless they're promoted before it's up?
Sure, I get it. Majerle and Turner were "screwed" out of being able to steer the ship, and they are pissed off that some yahoo got it over them.
Well, welcome to the real world. It doesn't always happen that the guy with the most experience gets promoted. I see it every damn day.
New coach Lindsey Hunter isn't waiting for these guys to come back. He's moving on with what he has.
"We're fine right now. I will be leaning on Igor and Corey [Gaines] and Noel [Gillespie] and whoever else as much as possible," he said. "I am very comfortable in my own skin. I don't care if Igor runs everything.
"The bottom line is that we've got to get better. However, through who, it doesn't matter."
At practice today Phoenix Suns head coach Lindsey Hunter stated that he is focused on getting his team ready to play basketball. They are working on tactical elements of the game, adding play wrinkles here and there, as well as getting the teams confidence up.
The morale and energy of the team is vastly important especially during this trying season. But putting together a staff is an immediate necessity.
"That will kind of play itself out," stated Hunter after reminding us he has only slept about four hours in the past 48. "I am concerned about our team and our players. That is my biggest concern, making sure guys are getting everything they can from me."
"I am sure, but I do not know personally," Hunter addressed the potential resentment from the other two not getting the job. "I am sure being a coach and wanting to be a head coach, and then not getting the opportunity; I am sure that hurts. I understand that and I am compassionate about that part of it. I don't know what will come from any of this, but you wish the guys that are not with us the best and the guys that are with us are going to work."
Obviously there will be some resentment towards the front office from the lead assistant and the local legend, both of which have been on an NBA bench here and abroad longer the Hunter has been retired. They each have a claim to the job, but this played out with Hunter as the interim.
Each wanted this opportunity to run the team for 41 games, but did not get it. That leaves the staff shorthanded with Igor Kokoslov, Noel Gillespie, Corey Gaines, and Ralph Sampson.
Hunter has been in communication with the duo gauging their interest in a return to the bench under his supervision, "I am not sure. Our front office probably has more knowledge about it than I do. I talked to them the initial day and I talked to Elston this morning."
As is the staff has some great experience to bring, but are going to be shorthanded, they know that, and are prepared to head into Sacramento as is.
"We are fine right now," says Hunter. "I always like listening to the great coaches of the NFL if someone gets hurt, next man up. that is the way we have to approach it."
One member of the Suns staff has the approach his grandfather taught him to lean on, and that is being loyal.
"Like my grandfather used to say, loyalty is you don't talk loud, you do," stated Kokoslov on staying on board here in Phoenix. "Meaning don't tell me you love me, show me. Loyalty to Alvin when he was here, to the organization as long as I am working for this organization, and that is not going to be a question."
Kokoslov has a connection to both Hunter and Alvin Gentry as a seven year assistant for gentry from the Clippers to the Pistons, and the the Suns. He coached Hunter for three years with the Pistons and won a Championship. Loyalty to the players and the organization supersedes any resentment towards not getting a position of want.
Two coaches may defect after not only losing their their leader, but also losing opportunity. Regardless this is a business and the show will go on without both if necessary, but when will the rest of the show be named? There in lies the ever growing issue with this downward trending franchise.