via Arizona Republic
Suns coach Alvin Gentry is interviewing candidates to add an assistant with defensive expertise.
Gentry has talked with San Antonio assistant Don Newman, former Chicago assistant and current scout Pete Myers and Houston assistant Elston Turner, who was a finalist for the Suns’ head-coaching job in 2008. Gentry also could talk to Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons and coaches who have been involved in the conference finals, such as Dallas’ Dwane Casey, Oklahoma City’s Maurice Cheeks and Miami’s Bob McAdoo.
Gentry was obviously the heir to now Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive firepower kingdom in Phoenix, but the Suns’ defensive struggles are proving similar to those of the Knicks.
The Knicks’ have pondered hiring a defensive assistant for years, but have failed to ultimately bite the bullet with D’Antoni in charge. Prior to D’Antoni becoming head coach, the team considered (2010-11 Coach of the Year) former Knicks assistant (and championship winning coach with the Celtics in 2008 ) Tom Thibodeau.
Says Gentry about the potential new hiring for his team, “I’m going to run it like a football team, and he’ll be a defensive coordinator,” Gentry said. “We’ll spend a ton of time meeting the next two to three months to see how we can put changes to be better.”
D’Antoni and the Knicks should look into a similar solution. Aside from looking at some of the candidates the Suns are also considering, New York could also finally give former Knick turned ESPN Analyst Mark Jackson, who has publicly lobbying for various head coaching vacancies despite not having any experience, an opportunity.
Giving Jackson a shot as “defensive coordinator” (should he be able to make improvements to the Knicks’ defense) would perhaps silence the doubters and ultimately grant him massive credability when seeking a head coaching position in the future.
Perhaps some time under D’Antoni’s wing, paired with the good rapport he has with Donnie Walsh and James Dolan, could give Jackson an edge at becoming New York’s head coach of the future.