For Alvin Gentry and the Phoenix Suns the journey has just begun.
Working with an overhauled roster following the off-season loses of Steve Nash and Grant Hill, Gentry has seen the good, bad and at times ugly side of the new-look Suns through the first nine games. Their 4-5 record is a pretty good indication of how the first two weeks of the season have gone.
“We’re still all in a learning stage here,” the Suns head coach told Brad Cesmat Thursday on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “We’ve played hard through some mistakes. There’s been some resolve with this team where they’ve continued to play and continue to work at it. As long as we have that attitude we can work through some other things.”
The transition for some players has been smoother than others. Former number two overall pick Michael Beasley has struggled with his shooting and has often been pulled in the fourth quarter in close games, while journeyman P.J. Tucker has been a pleasant surprise with his hustle and tough defense.
“He just works extremely hard,” Gentry told Cesmat when describing Tucker. “He’s always in the right spot defensively. We’ve asked him to guard some of the premiere offensive players in the league and he’s done a good job of doing it.”
Following a tough overtime loss to the Bulls on Wednesday, the road doesn’t get any easier with a game Friday against new coach Mike D’Antoni and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center followed by a visit from the defending champion Miami Heat on Saturday.
It will be an opportunity for Gentry to face D’Antoni in his much-anticipated Lakers debut. Gentry was an assistant under D’Antoni.
“They’re getting a great coach,” Gentry said. “I know they would have loved to have Phil [Jackson], but they have chosen Mike and I think Mike will do a great job. I think you’ll see them become a very consistent team that’s going to be very good offensively, obviously.”