Orlando Magic v Phoenix Suns

Suns coach Gentry gets vote of confidence; report has Beasley as issue

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When the Phoenix Suns traded Steve Nash, let Grant Hill go and brought in Michael Beasley to be the designated scorer, you knew things were not going to go all that well in the Valley of the Sun this year.

But Suns fans weren’t ready for a 7-15 record with seven straight losses, and everyone is starting to point fingers.

Two things leaked out of Phoenix. One was owner Robert Sarver backing his coach, via Chris Broussard of ESPN.

The other is this tweet from the well respected Shaun Powell (who has written for NBA.com, ESPN and others).

 

Is any of this really a surprise?

We can have a discussion of if Gentry was the right guy for this job all along, but Gentry didn’t forget how to coach in past year. He took the Suns to 54 wins his first year, but as the roster aged and was depleted they became a .500 team the past couple seasons. Then they took a lot more talent away and they struggled this year. That’s not all the coach. You can bring back John Wooden and he couldn’t coach this Suns roster to the playoffs.

And you added Beasley as a go-to guy — for three years at $18 million — and you’re stunned he’s not an efficient scorer and can divide a locker room? Beasley is giving the Suns 11.4 points a game but at 38.3 percent shooting and 30.5 percent from three. He’s a gunner, it’s what he is. Sam Amick had more details at USA Today.

The nature of Beasley’s role is at the root of the problem. Despite the fact that he was added to take a leading-scorer role, there is a sentiment from some on the team that the Suns are more effective when his role is limited. Apparently coach Alvin Gentry is among those who have that opinion, as he played Beasley just 15 minutes in Sunday’s loss to Orlando that was the Suns’ eighth straight defeat.

The truly problematic part, according to a person close to the situation who spoke with USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, is that Beasley is hardly hiding his frustrations with the fact that his role isn’t what he thought it would be.

The Suns may want to trade Beasley, but the market for him is going to be rock bottom. They are going to have take back a contract or player they don’t want if they can even find someone who wants to take Beasley on.

Sorry Suns fans, but this is what rebuilding feels like. Especially when you use someone like Beasley as a patch to make it less painful, because there is no way to make it hurt less. I’m sorry Kendall Marshall is struggling (even in the D-League) and that it’s going to take time. That is the nature of it. Rebuilding is a hit and miss process, it’s not all Oklahoma City.

But you can’t throw this all at Gentry’s feet. Especially not Beasley.

Al Horford shows he still has hops dunking on Solomon Hill (VIDEO)

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That’s just nasty.

Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.

Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.

Dwyane Wade shows he still has hops with dunk on Hornets (VIDEO)

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Dwyane Wade still has some springs.

In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.

Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.

Reigning dunk champ LaVine: ‘I’ve got tricks up my sleeve’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.

LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.

LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.

If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.

Report: Blake Griffin has second procedure on hand, timeline remains unchanged

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Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).

That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.

This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.

Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.

And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.