When the Clippers travel to Phoenix Tuesday night for their first game after the All Star break, there will be a familiar face coaching the Suns. Ric Bucher of ESPN the magazine is reporting that head coach Terry Porter will be fired and replaced by Suns assistant coach Alvin Gentry. Gentry was the head coach of the Clippers for 2 and a half seasons before Mike Dunleavy Sr. was hired.
Gentry is apparently very popular with Suns players, but this looks like yet another panic move in Phoenix. In the course of about a year, the Suns have made several major trades, switched coaches twice now, and they're likely to move Amare Stoudemire prior to Thursday's trade deadline. It almost goes without saying that the Suns would have been better off standing pat, at least for this season - it's hard to believe that Nash, Marion, Stoudemire, Diaw, Bell, Barbosa and Hill wouldn't be better than ninth place in the west if that group were being coached by Mike D'Antoni. Still, their window was definitely closing, and they gambled on making one last big push. It didn't pay off, and they'll be starting over in the desert very soon now.
Lucky Gentry - he gets a chance to start his new gig 2-0 with back-to-back games against the Clippers Tuesday and Wednesday.
In other Clipper news from All Star weekend, apparently the team has traded for Alex Acker of the Detroit Pistons (hat tip to Citizen Qlippers for posting the link). The deal has not been announced yet, but it has the appearance of one of those Cheik Samb, Hassan Adams deals - a player and cash for the right to swap second rounders that will no doubt never happen.
If this is all true, someone will have to be waived to make room - the Clippers are already at the NBA maximum of 15 players under contract. The likely candidates for the waiver wire would be Cheik Samb (they were taking a free look, and maybe they've seen enough), Jason Hart (he will be at least fifth on the depth chart at the point when Mike Taylor and Mardy Collins get back, and Acker plays the point as well) and Acker himself, if this is really just a profit deal for the Clippers.
Acker was a four year starter at Pepperdine, and I watched him play a LOT in college. He was a terrific college player - he's got great size for a point guard, good length as well, he can handle, he can pass, he can shoot, he can defend. He did all of those things quite well at the college level - but not sure that he can do any of them at the NBA level. The Pistons drafted him in the second round in 2005, and from what I heard they really liked him. He made a squad that had been to consecutive NBA Finals as a second round pick, so he must have done something right. Unfortunately for him, he never got much burn his rookie year. He went to Europe for two seasons, and was a teammate of MBFGC for a season at Olympiakos. He was back with the Pistons this season (they had retained his rights when he went to Europe), but again never got off the bench much. He has a grand total of 55 minutes of NBA experience.