Back when the Phoenix Suns decided to part ways with head coach Alvin Gentry, president of basketball operations Lon Babby said his replacement was assured of being the team’s coach for the rest of the season — and nothing more.
“It will be an interim coach,” Babby said.
At that point the Phoenix Suns were 13-28, giving the team’s choice half a season to prove his worth.
That ended up being Lindsey Hunter, who has guided the team to a 10-20 mark as the head coach. Of those 10 wins some have been against the league’s best (Atlanta, San Antonio, Memphis), whereas some of the 20 losses have been to the worst the NBA has to offer (Washington twice, Minnesota, Sacramento).
A guest of Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Wednesday, Babby was asked if the team is evaluating the coach and if he’s doing what they were hoping.
“There are two parts to your question,” Babby said. “The first part is have we been evaluating him and do we have a pretty good sense of where we are, and the answer to that is yes.
“Then the question is am I going to give him an interim report now, and the answer is no.”
Babby said the organization will address Hunter’s possible future with the team when the season comes to a close.
However, he did take offense to the idea that Hunter has had issues with handling the media and sideline demeanor, explaining he thinks the coach has done well in those areas despite being in a difficult situation.
“I think he’s accomplished a lot,” Babby said, noting the goal was to bring more accountability and better execution to the roster. “And before (Marcin) Gortat got hurt we were 8-11.
“Obviously since he’s been out, and with (Jermaine) O’Neal out at the same time, it’s been challenging.”
Babby noted it would be unfair to judge Hunter solely on wins and losses due to the circumstances, but said he has seen positives as well as things that could be improved on.
But is there enough good to lead to Hunter returning to the bench next season, minus the “interim” tag?
“I wouldn’t reach any conclusions,” Babby said. “We’ve got three weeks left in the season, let’s see how it plays out.”