With previous stops in Portland, Sacramento and Houston, Elston Turner landed in Phoenix prior to the 2011-12 season with 14 years of NBA coaching experience.
Yet, when the Suns decided to fire head coach Alvin Gentry a week ago, the organization turned to player development coordinator Lindsey Hunter to lead the team through the final 41 games.
“When I found out that I did not get the job, (I was) highly upset and who wouldn’t be,” Turner, Gentry’s lead assistant, said Thursday.
“I thought what I would bring to the table would be considered an asset,” he continued. “In 16 years of coaching experience, (I have been a part of) 15 straight seasons at or above five hundred. That should be considered an asset.
“My last meeting with Lon (Babby) and Lance (Blanks) had such a dark cloud over it that what I just told you, it gave me the impression that that wasn’t considered an asset. It was such negative tone all through that whole meeting that had me scratching my head and had me wondering what’s going on.”
Even after getting passed over and taking some time to collect his thoughts, Turner offered to stay on.
“I signed on to do it,” he said. “I love the game. And then I thought about the players. (I have) an obligation to them. I’m sure they would want the highest-quality of teaching.”
Turner said he relayed that message to management.
“The impression I got was that it may not be the best situation for anybody,” he said. “It seemed like a good situation for the players because I’ve got more experience than anybody in that locker room. It seemed like a good situation for the fans because I’ve got more experience than anybody in that locker room.”
In the end, Turner and the Suns parted ways with the Suns agreeing to honor his contract.
For Turner, “It just didn’t seem like it was a welcome situation.”