Losing is hard on a locker room and the Suns aren’t really used to it — even when they didn’t make the playoffs the past couple years they almost did thanks to Steve Nash. Then they traded Steve Nash.
Already Alvin Gentry has been let go as coach and now comes a report that Jermaine O’Neal and general manager Lance Blanks got into a profanity-filled argument outside the coach’s office Monday, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network (and comfirmed by Paul Coro or the Arizona Republic).
The upshot is that O’Neal did not practice with the team Tuesday and did not travel with them to Sacramento for a game Wednesday.
“It was really bad,” one Suns source said Tuesday afternoon.
The confrontation happened after interim coach Lindsey Hunter’s first practice and unfolded within earshot of several Suns players in the locker room, sources said.
O’Neal is frustrated with the direction of the Suns’ rebuild and wanted more clarity on his future this season, a source with knowledge of the confrontation said. At 13-28, the Suns have the worst record in the Western Conference.
Part of the reason the Suns parted ways with Gentry is he gave preference to veterans like O’Neal and some in management wanted the young prospects on the team to get more run. O’Neal had averaged 15.6 minutes a game on the season but so far in January that is down to 11.9 a game.
O’Neal has a one-year deal with the Suns, a franchise in a complete rebuilding mode. Is O’Neal available by trade? I’m sure he is, there is nobody on the Suns roster that should be safe. Is he going to get more burn? Not likely.
That’s frustrating. Shouting matches with the GM rarely help these matters, however.