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Elston Turner upset he didn’t coach Suns
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On January 24, 2013 @ 10:00 pm In All,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Paul Coro, USA TODAY Sports
When Elston Turner joined the Phoenix Suns as the lead assistant coach in 2011, one of the lures to Phoenix was that he would be next in line should the head-coach position come open.
Turner was fiercely loyal to head coach Alvin Gentry and then turned fiercely upset when the Suns let Gentry go last week and turned to player assistant coordinator Lindsey Hunter on Sunday to be the interim coach for the season’s second half.
Even then, Turner’s emotional heat had cooled a little and he was ready to fulfill his contractual obligation — just as he said he’d relayed to General Manager Lance Blanks that he would should he not be selected.
After missing three practices and a road game, Turner and Suns management agreed to part ways with his full salary paid.
“The impression that I got was that it may be tough to find a spot for a 16-year veteran with 15 straight years of winning experience,” Turner said Thursday.
Turner went to a coaches meeting Tuesday morning but was told by Hunter that Suns management wanted to speak to him before he took up the offer to return to the staff.
“The whole meeting had a dark cloud hanging over it,” Turner said. “It just gave me the impression that roles may change. Instead of viewing me as an asset, it made it seem like they couldn’t use my experience or they would have to try to work me in. The whole tone was negative.”
Turner, 53, said the time away made him feel like he had an obligation to return to players, fans and basketball.
“I owed the players a chance to help them get better and I’m sure they’d welcome the most qualified coach,” Turner said. “I felt an obligation to the paying customer to give them the best product possible. And I love the damn game.”
When he mentioned wanting to stay, he said one executive asked him, “Well, why would you?”
Meanwhile, Hunter already had named Igor Kokoskov to the role of lead assistant, which had been Turner’s title. Turner said he was openly upset with management when he was not … [For more on Elston Turner upset he didn't stay on to coach Suns, click here.]
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