Gentry deserves praise...and an extension
But I do know this: Alvin Gentry deserves a contract extension regardless of what happens.
I don't usually pine for coaches to get extension. In fact, for me it's just the opposite, as I tend to be pretty vocal about calling for coaches to get fired when it's obvious their time has come. But Gentry, who will be entering the final year of his contract next season, has done something special this year and I believe that this is his best head coaching job of his 11-year career.
This takes nothing away from the fantastic job he did in 2009-10 when he guided the Suns to a 54-win season and into the Western Conference Finals where they were ousted by the Lakers. He did a great job that year too, especially when everyone and their mother thought that the window had closed on Phoenix.
But this year is different. This is a collection of misfits no matter what the front office thinks about these players. Yes, he has the aging war horses in Steve Nash and Grant Hill. But somehow Gentry has managed to make chicken soup out of chicken scratch with this roster. I mean come on -- Sebastian Telfair a solid backup point guard, seriously? Who would have thunk that? Michael Redd reborn? Shannon Brown dominating offensively to the point where he is likely to get a multi-year contract from some team in this league. Robin Lopez, who the team tried to give away for a first-round draft pick, any first-round draft pick, at the trade deadline but found no takers, all of a sudden playing solid defense and contributing offensively. How about Josh Childress left for dead on the end of the bench now coming in and playing shut down defense in important games.
I means seriously, if this isn't the best job Gentry has ever done than I don't know what is. This Suns squad is not supposed to be a playoff team. Heck, they are not even supposed to be in contention let alone owning the eighth and final spot which they have now by virtue of their win over Portland Monday night coupled with Houston's loss to Denver. Even Nash has said on more than one occasion this year that this team lacks talent.
And Nash is right. They were supposed to glide to the draft lottery with a bunch of ping pong balls and a shot at a top-5 pick. They were supposed to be so far out of it come the trade deadline that Nash would be suiting up for some contender while Phoenix stockpiled draft picks and young talent. Come on we all thought that especially when Phoenix was a ho-hum 12-19 earlier in the season. You had visions of Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suiting up for the Suns. But Gentry found a way to turn this thing around as the Suns have had a 10-game difference in the standings since that 12-19 record and now they stand at 32-29 and on the verge of making the playoffs.
No one quit on Gentry when the team was struggling. No one asked management to fire him. No one complained about the amount of time they spent in the doghouse and quite a few of them spent some serious time in there. They just kept playing hard and overcoming adversity, like beating the Clippers without Nash or Hill.
Maybe Gentry gets this team to the playoffs, maybe he doesn't. Either way, he did more with this team than he probably should have, and for that he deserves to not go into the final year of his contract as a lame duck coach, but to be rewarded with an extension.
One he earned!