With the two Los Angeles teams bounced from the first round of the playoffs, the Pacific has one lone representative left in the Warriors. While Golden State figures out how to handle the Spurs, let's take a look at the rest of the division..
It seems as if there has been some unease in the Suns' coaching ranks since Alvin Gentry and the club parted ways last week, with three assistant coaches having been worthy candidates for the interim job. Here's the latest on that situation, along with other notes out of Phoenix:
6:29pm: NBC/Comcast analyst Ric Bucher tweets that it is now a tough situation in Phoenix for Elston Turner, who he considers to have Tom Thibodeau-esque potential. After the Suns didn't allow him to follow Rick Adelman to Minnesota in 2011, Turner was passed over for the Blazers' job this summer and now has lost out to Hunter in Phoenix. Bucher speculates that based on the "dynamic" in Phoenix, it is hard to envision Turner or Majerle staying beyond their current contract obligations should Hunter remain at the helm.
12:55pm: Majerle isn't the only assistant coach on his way out of town, as player development coach Sean Rooks is leaving for a job overseas, Coro notes, adding that Rooks' move is unrelated to the other changes in Phoenix. Also, Elston Turner was absent from practice today, according to Coro (Twitter links).
11:08am: Majerle will likely leave the team after getting passed over for the interim job, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. A source indicates the same to Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).
10:11am: The Suns have named assistant coach Lindsey Hunter as interim head coach, the team announced on its website. Hunter replaces Alvin Gentry, who parted ways with the team on Friday. The team went with Hunter over fellow Phoenix assistants Elston Turner, Igor Kokoskov and Dan Majerle.
Hunter was a front-office favorite, though owner Robert Sarver reportedly has an affinity for Turner. Suns players made a push for Majerle yesterday as the team was considering its internal candidates. Hunter was part of the final three in the running for the Magic head coaching job over the summer. His formal title with the Suns had been player development coordinator, a position he took over this season after joining the team's scouting department last year. He spent 17 years in the league as a player, retiring in 2010 to a player development role with the Bulls.
The Suns, in last place in the Western Conference with a 13-28 record, next play Wednesday against the Kings. The team wants to place greater focus on bringing along its young talent, so given Hunter's previous responsibilities with the club, the hiring makes sense. Phoenix brass reportedly felt Gentry wasn't the right man for its new emphasis on youth.
6:22pm: Mike Monroe of San Antonio Express-News (via Twitter) cites a plugged-in source who says that Hunter will be the team's interim coach. Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic tweeted that that some of the Suns players spoke to the front office earlier today and lobbied for Dan Majerle to get the position, adding that their request has also been under consideration.
SATURDAY, 2:18pm: The Suns are conducting interviews today, but have yet to name an interim coach, tweets Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. They have a little time to deliberate, since their next game is Wednesday against the Kings, and they don't practice until tomorrow, as Coro notes. In addition to Hunter and Turner, fellow Suns assistant coach Igor Kokoskov is a candidate as well, according to Coro (Twitter link).
FRIDAY, 12:08pm: Alvin Gentry and the Suns have agreed to part ways, reports John Gambadoro of Sports 620 KTAR in Phoenix (via Twitter). According to Gambadoro, Gentry met with owner Robert Sarver and president Lon Babby this morning. The Suns' brass would like to focus on player development and the team's younger players, and didn't think Gentry was the ideal choice for that approach (Twitter links).
The top candidates to replace Gentry as the Suns' interim coach are assistants Lindsey Hunter and Elston Turner, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). Wojnarowski notes that Hunter was installed by the team's front office, and is viewed as a potential future head coach, meaning the club may have preferred to give him a clean slate to take over in the offseason. Turner, meanwhile, is a favorite of Sarver's (Twitter links).
Given the Suns' place in the standings, the decision to part ways with Gentry isn't a huge surprise -- Phoenix's 13-28 mark puts them last in the Western Conference. Still, it was just last month that Sarver asserted Gentry's job was safe. Ian Thomsen of SI.com also argued earlier this week that the coach wasn't the problem in Phoenix, though even Thomsen acknowledged that Gentry was likely the next coach on the hot seat.
In three full seasons and two half seasons with the Suns, Gentry compiled a 158-144 record, including a 54-win season in 2009/10.