Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns have added longtime NBA assistant and former player Elston Turner to the team’s coaching staff, the club announced today.

“Elston Turner has been a player and a coach in this league and we’re confident that he will bring a new voice to our team that will help us improve,” said Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry.  “What made Elston the right candidate is his experience working alongside offensive coaches and his willingness to be creative defensively.  We have complete confidence in Bill Cartwright, Dan Majerle, Igor Kokoskov and Noel Gillespie, and adding a capable coach like Elston to our staff will make us that much better.”

Turner joins the Suns with 14 years experience as an NBA assistant coach with the Houston Rockets (2007-11), Sacramento Kings (2000-06) and Portland Trail Blazers (1996-00).  No stranger to coaching defense on an offensive-minded club, the 52-year-old Turner has been tabbed by Gentry to serve as the club’s primary defensive coach after spending the last six seasons as the lead assistant under noted offensive coach Rick Adelman, the last four of which came with the Rockets.  While working under Adelman, Turner was a part of two Western Conference All-Star coaching staffs (2001, 2003). editor Jeff Lenchiner feels Turner is a solid hire and that this is a good move by the Suns.

During Turner’s tenure with Houston, the Rockets surrendered an average opponent field goal mark of 45.5 percent overall (12,345-27,118), well below the league average.  During Turner’s first two seasons in Houston, when the Rockets had a healthy Yao Ming, the club surrendered just 43.8 percent shooting to opponents (5,843-13,329) and were ranked in the top-five in the NBA both seasons.  Turner’s 2007-08 Rockets owned the second-best mark in the league overall (.433).  A native of Knoxville, Tenn., Turner will be charged with aiding in the improvement of a Phoenix defense that ranked 11th in the NBA in defensive field goal percentage in 2009-10 (.452) but fell to 25th in the league in 2010-11 (.472).

The 6-foot-5 Turner played eight NBA seasons with the Dallas Mavericks (1981-84), Denver Nuggets (1984-86, 1988-89) and Chicago Bulls (1986-88), developing a reputation as a tenacious defender.  Turner averaged 4.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 505 career NBA games.  He also played parts of five seasons in the CBA and three years in Europe following his NBA career.

The Mavericks’ 43rd overall selection (second round) of the 1981 NBA Draft, Turner entered the NBA after a stellar senior season at Ole Miss in which he led the school to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1980-81.  The university honored Turner’s many collegiate accomplishments in 2000 when he was inducted into the Ole Miss M-Club Athletic Hall of Fame.

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