The Phoenix Suns today announced that the club has reached an agreement with interim head coach Alvin Gentry to retain him as the 14th head coach in franchise history. Gentry and Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr will be available to the media on Tuesday, May 12.
“Alvin is the right man to lead our team into the future,” said Kerr. “Our players have great respect for him and the job he did last season, and he’ll provide the continuity we’ll need going into next year. I’m excited for Alvin and his family, and for our organization. This is a great fit.”
Originally promoted to the role of interim head coach on Feb. 16, Gentry’s 31-game tenure with the Suns in 2008-09 saw him compile the highest winning percentage of any interim coach in the NBA last season (.581). Gentry’s 18-13 record at the helm of the Suns included both the club’s longest overall win streak of the season (six games) and longest home win streak (nine games), despite playing without leading scorer and All-Star starter Amar’e Stoudemire for all but two of those games, and without Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa for a combined 10 games.
Gentry returned the Suns to the franchise’s high-scoring roots as Phoenix averaged an astounding 117.7 points following his promotion, raising its overall scoring average five full points in just 31 games to 109.4 points for the season, tops in the NBA. The Suns opened Gentry’s tenure with three-straight 140-point efforts, the first time the NBA had seen such prolific scoring since the 1990-91 campaign. Among the most impressive scoring feats achieved by Gentry’s Suns’ in his 31-game term: six scoring efforts of at least 130 points, more than any other NBA team managed in 82 games; and, a string of 10 consecutive 30-point quarters, the longest streak of its kind in 17 seasons.
Gentry helped lead the club to a 46-36 finish, the second-most victories for a non-playoff team in the 25-year history of the NBA’s 16-team playoff format. The Suns, which were 14-3 (.824) at home under Gentry, closed the season by winning nine-straight games at US Airways Center, registering wins over playoff teams Philadelphia, Denver, Utah and Houston.
A 30-year coaching veteran, Gentry originally joined the Suns’ staff as an assistant on June 1, 2004, and served in that position the last four-plus seasons before earning the midseason promotion in 2008-09. Gentry is at the helm of his fourth NBA team after stints with the Los Angeles Clippers (2000-03), Detroit Pistons (1997-2000) and Miami Heat (1995). Gentry’s 1998-99 Pistons earned a playoff berth. In 2001-02, his second season with the Clippers, he guided Los Angeles to an improbable 39-43 (.476) record, the team’s highest win total in nearly 10 seasons, a season after leading the club to a 16-win improvement in 2000-01, his rookie campaign with the club.
In 21 seasons in the NBA, Gentry has worked alongside or under some of the game’s most respected coaches, including Larry Brown, Kevin Loughery and Doug Collins. The 54-year-old Gentry received his first assistant coaching job in the NBA under Brown with the San Antonio Spurs in 1988-89 after serving under Brown with the 1988 NCAA Champion Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team.