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"We were regressing," Lon Babby said of the Phoenix Suns today. "I didn't feel like we were moving forward, and I don't think Alvin thought we were moving forward."

Babby described the meeting as one that gathered after last night's game, one that not coincidentally had the players and the coach at their most depressed, frustrated point of the season to date. Babby and managing partner Robert Sarver asked to meet with Alvin, and a long meeting and a night to sleep on it resulted in a mutual decision to end the relationship.

"It's not something we planned for. A month ago, Robert Sarver was direct and blunt that Alvin would be here through the end of the year. But sometimes in this business it gets to the point where it doesn't feel right and we just reached that point."

Certainly, there was a lot wrong with the Suns and there still is a lot wrong. Letting the coach go doesn't solve any problems, though it does allow the team to move in a new direction with a new voice at the helm.

"I think in fairness it would not be realistic to not say at this stage given our record," he said. "That maybe the emphasis is going to shift a little bit in the direction of player development, but we're still trying to win games and still try to compete, but maybe the emphasis is slightly altered."

It is easier to switch gears with a new coach than it is for the existing coach to suddenly change everything he's been saying to the team all season.

Alvin Gentry was trying to win games first and foremost because the team went into the season thinking they the talent to produce better results than they have shown so far this season.

"I think we gave him a team that was better than the way they were playing," Babby said. "But I don't put that all on him. I don't even put the lion's share on him. That's not what this is about. It's not about winning enough games.

"The decision for Alvin and us to part ways wasn't a reflection of the quality of him as a coach. It's just that at this time, in this place, in this moment with this group it obviously just wasn't working."

Ultimately, the team was regressing. At the very least, they were making the same mistakes today that they were making on day one of training camp. Since the beginning of 2013, the Suns have the worst offense in the league after starting the season in the middle of the pack.

"I want us to progress culturally," Babby said of the next steps. "I want us to begin to see some modest or substantial growth in our young players. I want us to play hard every night, which for the most part we have done. I'd like us to be disciplined. I'd like us to execute.

"I think progress is something that, if you see it, you'll know. And I want us to feel good about moving forward. And that's how I think we have to judge the season going forward."

But he knows it all comes back to him.

"I'm going to be judged every day on what we do. Ultimately I am accountable."

An interim coach will be named in the next 24-48 hours from among the current coaching and player development staff. Likely Elston Turner or Lindsey Hunter, who are both highly regarding nationally as future head coaches. It's just that neither has ever done it before.

PHOENIX – Something didn’t feel right on Planet Orange, and though it still might feel uneasy, let’s focus on the past. The Phoenix Suns and head coach Alvin Gentry decided it was best...

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Here's the quotes from Steve Nash and Mike D'Antoni today via the awesome Lakers reporter(s), The Kamenetzky Brothers:

Kamenetzky Brothers's post on LA Lakers | Latest updates on Sulia

Said Nash:

"Obviously I'm sad for Alvin, but in some ways, maybe this is a good thing for him. He's a great coach. A really good coach, and any club would be lucky to have him, that's for sure. He'll land on his feet, because he can really do a good job."

"I think the writing's been on the wall. It just looks like it to me. They wouldn't extend his contract. They just gave him the year to just kind of play it out. It looked like they wanted to get their own guy in there."

Said D'Antoni:

"He's a good coach. Now, a coach getting fired is not news, and you hate it for a friend, and you hate it that a guy does a great job and it definitely wasn't the coaching that they were losing. But that's our business, and you go on. (But) I hate it for him."

Suns_skull

To tank, or not to tank: that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler of the Suns to suffer

The slings and arrows of the 13th pick,

Or to take arms against a sea of mediocrity,

And by opposing end it. To draft: 13th:

No more; and by a top 5 pick we end

The heart-ache, and the thousands of empty seats

That stagbuilding is heir to, 'tis a treadmill

Devoutly to be feared. To draft, 13th;

Again: but ‘tis there hope for these vapid Suns?

For in the lottery what dreams may come,

But losing has given the front office pause:

To abrogate the calamity of conbuilding:

For we who bear the whips and scorns of mediocrity,

The banker's wrong, the lawyer's contumely,

The pang of playoffs missed, the rebuild's delay,

The insolence of the Lakers, and the Spurs

That patient merit of our loyal fans,

When they can end this vicious cycle

With picks and youth that trades may bear

But yet they vacillate with timorous eye

to spy upon the perils of being bad,

The unfamiliar land of futility

No Sun has traveled, puzzles the will,

And cozens them to endure this purgatory

Rather than test the depths of the lottery pool;

Thus trepidation does make cowards of them all,

And thus the oneiric musings of a renascent Suns

Are sicklied o'er with the pale cast of doubt,

And the refulgent talent that top picks bring;

Is sullied in our minds by their reluctance

And we lose the next Durant. The next Rose!

Oh Suns! Release us from this prison!

Lose now; Win later.

20120411_kdl_sc6_135

In the end it came down to a mutale decision between the owner, president, and the coach to part ways and head in a different direction with the head coaching job. After five seasons, 148 wins, and a trip to the Western Conference Finals, this is the way Alvin Gentry's tenure with the Phoenix Suns comes to an end.

To modify the great T.S. Elliott, "this is how the 2012-2013 season ends, not with a bang, but with a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks."

Now the focus turns to deciding which member of the staff with no NBA head coaching experience is going to run the show for 41 games as an open audition. Who is up for the task?

From early reports it looks like the Suns like Lindsey Hunter internally, but they are hesitating on that move in order to give him a "clean slate" starting next season according to Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski reports:

Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) tweeted at 11:15 AM on Fri, Jan 18, 2013:
After firing of Alvin Gentry today, top candidates to become Suns interim coach: assistants Elston Turner and Lindsey Hunter, sources say.

Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) tweeted at 11:17 AM on Fri, Jan 18, 2013:
Suns front office installed Hunter into organization and see him as future head coach there. Turner is a favorite of owner, Robert Sarver.

Here are the candidates for the job:

Lindsey Hunter

Hunter is a favorite around the league and was in the running for head coaching jobs this past summer. After not getting on a staff he took over the Suns Player Development program, tasked with bringing along Kendall Marshall. Little did he know that 41 games in he would be in a position to coach Marshall in the NBA after a stint in the Developmental League for both of them.

This would be a big jump from player development to holding the clipboard with 13 professionals looking to you for answers.

The league has been filling up with former back-up point guards moving into head coaching jobs young, and with lots of success. Hunter is believed to be one of the next in that line. Naming him now gives a 41 game sample before deciding this summer if they want to go external with the coaching search. They may not have to.

Elston Turner

Similar to Hunter, Turner was in interviews all summer to get a head coaching job. He was a finalist for the Portland Trail Blazers job before it went to Terry Stotts. On this staff he is the defensive coordinator and has cache around the league as a future head coach. Over the course of the two seasons with the Suns the team has shown improvement, but then drastic regression, mainly due to the inconsistency among the roster.

Dan Majerle

Over the years Majerle has flirted with head coaching jobs including with the Philadelphia 76ers before they hired Doug Collins. Right now most would say he is not ready, but has spent time on the bench next to Gentry for five years as an assistant.

Don't count out Thunder Dan as a local favorite and having played for Pat Riley, Cotton Fitzsimmons, and Paul Westphal over the years.

Long Shots:

Noel Gillespie

Nine seasons as an advanced scout and now playing a duel role as an assistant coach makes Gillespie as knowledgeable as anyone on the staff. He has seen the reign of Mike D'Antoni, Terry Porter, and Alvin Gentry while playing an invaluable role on the team.

Down the road Gillespie will be running or coaching a team.

Igor Kokoslav

The first European with an NBA Championship as a coach has the resume to get in the interview room for a head coaching job. He has spent 12 seasons as an NBA Assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit Pistons, and currently the Suns. On the staff he is known as a teacher and developer. Over the years he has worked with many players in Europe at a high level and in the NBA.

Is it time for the Suns to hire a foreign born head coach, with the credentials and internal experience?

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