The Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers might be bitter rivals, but that doesn’t change the fact that the coaching profession is still a tight-knit fraternity.
Before Friday night’s 107-105 victory over the Cavaliers, head coach Alvin Gentry shared his thoughts on the surprising news that the Lakers had fired Mike Brown after a poor, albeit short, 1-4 start.
“Obviously, I don’t know what you can prove in five games,” Gentry said. “There’s been teams that have done well that have started 1-4, and there’s been teams that have gone to the NBA finals if I’m not mistaken.”
Gentry understands the nature of the business, after all he was fired during the 2002-2003 season by the Los Angeles Clippers after a 19-39 start.
While the two have never coached together, Brown did take over for Gentry as the lead assistant to Greg Popovich before the 2000-2001 season.
“He’s a good coach,” said Gentry. “You don’t get dumber as you get older. Obviously I’m a coach, so I don’t agree with five games assessing how the season is going to go.”
Although the Suns moved back to .500 following their largest home comeback in franchise history Friday, Gentry said he has plenty on his plate in Phoenix to keep him from meddling in the affairs of a Pacific Division foe.
“I have no idea on that situation,” said Gentry. I’m kind of dealing with enough over here. “I’m not really worrying about what’s going on over there.”
“All I know is when a coach loses his job, especially a friend of yours, it doesn’t make you feel real good.”
Gentry might not be keeping close tabs on the Lakers’ on-going search for Brown’s replacement, but several reports indicate that their choice may come in the way of a former Sun.
Mike D’Antoni is rumored to be near the top of the list among candidates vetted to replace Brown. D’Antoni last coached for the New York Knicks in 2012, when he resigned in March following a 18-24 record.
D’Antoni first made a name for himself in the Valley as Phoenix’s head coach from 2003-2008. The former Italian basketball star invigorated the Suns’ offense with an up-tempo style that eventually became known as “Seven Seconds or Less.” While the offense took the league by storm, D’Antoni managed to lead the team to just two conference finals appearances in 2005 and 2006.
If chosen to take over in Los Angeles, D’Antoni would be reunited with former MVPs Steve Nash (coached in Phoenix) and Kobe Bryant (coached twice in the Olympics).