The Phoenix Suns kick off a new era tonight in Sacramento. The struggling 13-28 team fired head coach Alvin Gentry and will be going with interim coach Lindsey Hunter for the rest of the season.
After Hunter’s first practice on Monday, veteran big man Jermaine O’Neal reportedly got into a very heated argument with General Manager Lance Blanks. O’Neal has only played in 32 games for the Suns this year, coming off the bench in all of them and averaging a slim 15 minutes per game.
Sources inside the locker room say the argument was about O’Neal’s role with the team and the coaching change but Blanks downplayed it afterwards.
Our interaction had nothing to do with the coaching situation,” Blanks said. “I can tell you that, with one hundred percent certainty. The time that any reporters are going to put into it is going to be wasted time – unless they're trying to create an issue for us. But if they're coming at it in a fair sense of there being a story, there's no story. JO and I are two competitive guys who had an argument, and that was it. We walked out (of the coach's office where the argument took place) giving high-fives and brother hugs, and it's over.
O’Neal took to Twitter to confirm what Blanks said, endorsing Hunter as the coach and saying all the reports of an ongoing altercation are false.
Even if O’Neal and Blanks have buried the hatchet, the 17-year veteran will not be making the trip with the Suns to Sacramento for tonight’s game against the Kings. The reports are that this is because of a personal issue and has nothing to do with the verbal argument, but I guess you can’t ever be sure.
For the Suns, the drama in the locker room is just one of the many problems that will need to be sorted out quickly. They’re the worst team in the Western Conference and aren’t showing any signs of turning it around anytime soon. They have a lot of work to do if they ever want to return to the ranks of the West’s elite.
Image: USA Today