Although it could take up to two days to make a decision, it's widely expected that either Lindsey Hunter or Elston Turner will take over for the recently departed Alvin Gentry as interim head coach of the Phoenix Suns.
SB Nation's Suns blog Bright Side of the Sun has brief profiles of both Hunter and Turner, as well as blurbs on several longshots. But it is clear that Hunter and Turner are the favorites.
Hunter, 42, played in the NBA for 17 years before the Suns decided to name him assistant head coach for player development this past offseason. His only coaching experience before this year was as an assistant on his son's high school team so it would be a bit of an upset if he manages to earn the Suns' head job. Then again, as Mark Jackson has proved this season, perhaps a former point guard is exactly what a rebuilding franchise needs to turn its luck around. And according to Sam Amick, it looks like those who call the shots in Phoenix might agree with that theory as the USA Today NBA insider is reporting that Hunter has already "been pegged as the next guy in line."
Turner, 53, is in his second year as the Suns' defensive guru but he has been in the assistant coaching business with an assortment of teams since 1996. Under Turner's instruction, the Sacramento Kings fielded the league's top-ranked defense in terms of field goal percentage in 2003-2004. From 2007-2009, Turner helped guide the Houston Rockets to two top-3 ranked defenses as he established himself as one of finest defensive minds throughout the association. The Suns currently rank 23rd in points allowed per game so it certainly wouldn't hurt to give Turner a chance to mold this team to his liking.
It's a bit surprising that most outlets are reporting that assistant coach Dan Majerle isn't a serious candidate for the opening in Phoenix. Majerle, 47, has been with the team as an assistant since 2008 and has experience coaching running the show as the head coach of the Suns' summer league team. Majerle is also a fan favorite from his eight seasons playing for the Suns so one would think his hiring could put some more meat in the seats for a team that's struggled mightily for support this season.
Phoenix doesn't take the court again till next Wednesday so owner Robert Sarver will certainly have a few days to sleep on the decision. And the good news is that whoever takes over can only go up from here with the Suns resting in last place in the Western Conference after dropping 13 of their last 15 games.