Alvin Gentry: Suns in ‘great situation’ under coach Monty Williams

May 28, 2020, 12:16 PM

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry talks to his team from the sidelines in the first half...

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry talks to his team from the sidelines in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in New Orleans, Sunday, March 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)

(AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)

New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry believes his former team is on the right path.

It’s because he believes the right guy is in charge.

Gentry on Thursday praised first-year Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams and thinks the franchise is on a path toward success despite the playoff drought that ended in 2010, when Gentry was at the helm.

“I think it’s about as good as a situation that can happen there,” Gentry told Bickley & Marotta Thursday on Arizona Sports. “No. 1, he’s such a standup guy. No. 2, he’s a very, very good basketball coach.

“Some of the things he will change and has changed there: I think you’ll see a little more discipline out of the team, I think he will demand that they guard and given the opportunity to make that thing what I think he can make it, the Suns are in a great situation now.”

Gentry experienced the highs and lows of the Suns organization.

From 2004-08, he sat alongside head coach Mike D’Antoni as Steve Nash pushed Phoenix into the postseason for deep runs year after year. When the Suns hired Terry Porter and then fired him after 51 games in 2008-09, Gentry took over as the interim coach and, after being named to the permanent position, led them to a 2010 Western Conference Finals appearance.

A Kobe Bryant airball in Game 5 of that series led to a Ron Artest putback at the buzzer, and Phoenix lost at home the next game to fall short of the NBA Finals yet again.

It was the last successful run of the Nash era. The two-time MVP was traded a few years later, and without him, Gentry was fired halfway through the 2012-13 season. Three high-profile assistants, Dan Majerle, Elston Turner and Igor Kokoskov, were passed over by GM Lance Blanks as Lindsey Hunter — who at that point was a development coach — earned the interim job.

Hunter didn’t secure the permanent role. Jeff Hornacek, Earl Watson, Jay Triano, Igor Kokoskov and now Williams have coached Phoenix since Gentry’s departure seven years ago.

Now, Gentry believes that the Suns have finally gotten it right.

“They’ve got great personnel. Devin Booker is as good as any player in the NBA,” the Pelicans coach said. “I think they’ve got some personnel there and I think that Monty is the right guy there. I definitely believe that.”

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