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Suns coach: Have to hold players accountable on defense

LISTEN: Lindsey Hunter, Phoenix Suns' Head Coach

Interim Phoenix Suns head coach Lindsey Hunter’s job is to win games, but his goal is to “establish a new culture.”

That means a defense-first mentality, the likes of which has not been seen in the Valley for a long, long time. If ever.

There will be some bumps along the way, with one of them being either adding personnel fit to run the system or getting the players currently on the roster to adjust.

And that takes time along with effort.

“It’s tough, it’s hard, it’s hard work,” Hunter told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Wednesday.

Hunter said ensuring change happens will mean some players don’t see the minutes they are accustomed to, and one of the players who has seen a significant decrease in playing time is forward Michael Beasley.

Beasley, who has struggled this season, has played no more than 15 minutes in any of the last four games and has played fewer than 10 minutes twice.

“It’s the only way to get better and the only way to put us where we need to be, and I have to hold guys accountable for that,” Hunter added. “I treat it just as what it is; it’s not personal, it’s just what we have to do.

“And in order to play significant minutes you have to do it. And guys that are doing it play, the guys that are still trying to find their way will have to keep working on it.”

Hunter said he does his best to keep his players in the loop as to why playing time fluctuates like it has, and in terms of Beasley, it’s all about waiting for the player to figure things out.

“I can’t figure figure it out for him, nobody else can figure it out for him; he has to do it,” he said. “I’ll continue to give him an opportunity to play, that won’t change, I just expect him to execute the game plan defensively and to make the right plays offensively.”

But when it comes to the fact that Beasley is still trying to figure things out, Hunter said he’s not “disappointed.”

“If we’re expecting him just to change overnight, that’s not the right way to go about it,” he said. “Any steps with him we look at as baby steps.

“We know what Mike is coming from, we know all the challenges that he has. I don’t look at it as a disappointment; I look at it as growing pains for him.”

And as Hunter said, if Beasley learns and grows from this situation, as difficult as it may be right now, he’ll be OK, and he thinks his player is trying to do just that.

“That’s what we ask,” he said. “Try to do the right thing, we’re going to try to help you, and hopefully we can get this thing turned around with the kid and he can be a successful player.”