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Phoenix Suns: Majerle out, Turner uncertain, Hunter moving forward

Lindsey Hunter isn't waiting on Dan Majerle or Elston Turner to return to the team. He is moving on, trying to get ready for his first basketball game on Wednesday night.

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According to the guys who get all the inside scoop before anyone else does, it looks like long time loyalist Dan Majerle has left the organization while lead assistant Elston Turner is still considering his options.


Since being booed on draft night in 1988, Dan Majerle has won and held the hearts of many a Suns fan over the past 24 years. First he played on the resurgent Suns' KJ/Chambers teams that brought the team out of the drug mess, continuing with the Barkley-led teams that almost won a ring.

He was voted a starter for the 1995 All-Star game (one of 3 overall selections) as a three-point shooter and defensive specialist type amid trade rumors as the Suns were trying to move past the disappointing Finals and playoff losses that marred an otherwise wonderful run for the Suns.

He was finally traded in October of that year to bring back a needed big man (John "Hot Rod" Williams), played several more seasons for other teams, before closing out his playing career in Phoenix and retiring in 2002. He was hired as an assistant coach by interim-turned-permanent head coach Alvin Gentry in the summer of 2008 and has served under Alvin since.

That's 12 years of loyalty to the Suns gone in the blink of an eye.

Much like when Steve Kerr's right-hand man David Griffin left the organization along with his boss, so has Dan Majerle left in the wake of Alvin Gentry's "parting of the ways".

While it's disconcerting that a loyalist has left the organization despite being offered an opportunity to stay, it's not like Majerle was a hot commodity among coaching circles. He got as many head-coaching sniffs as Lindsey Hunter (1) despite being retired for a decade and a Suns assistant coach for several years.

I don't mean to sound disloyal to Dan, but you don't give promotions to people just because they "put in the work". It's moves like those that get you fired.

Of course, hiring Lindsey Hunter can get you fired too, so there's that.

Regarding the other erstwhile coaching finalist, Elston Turner is apparently still mulling his options to return versus leaving the organization entirely. He's been on-site, talking to Suns brass and Hunter daily but has not stepped onto the practice floor since Hunter was hired.

Some around the NBA feel sorry for Turner because he wasn't let out of his brand new contract last year to follow Rick Adelman to Minnesota, now only to be passed over for the Suns top job.

Um, excuse me. That's a load of BS.

I do not have inside information on either Dan Majerle or Elston Turner, so take the remainder of this article with that grain of salt. I don't know if the Suns brass literally kicked these guys in the pants, or if they verbally berated them and made them feel bad. I don't know any of this.

All I know is the facts: that both guys have guaranteed contracts to be assistant coaches for the NBA Phoenix Suns franchise, that those contracts run through the end of this season (41 more games), that those contracts are guaranteed income in exchange for work and that those contracts did not guarantee promotion at the first available opportunity.

There's this thing I like to call professionalism. Turner signed a two-year contract to be lead assistant with the Suns before the lockout started when he and Adelman were out of work. Why would Turner, before ever taking the court, ask to be let out of that contract to work with someone else? And why would the Suns say, "Sure, go right ahead Elston. Nice not knowing ya!"

And now, the Suns "owe" him a promotion because they simply required him to honor his assistant coaching contract that he signed of his own volition? What?

Anyway, now Turner is waffling on working the remainder of his guaranteed contract.

Lindsey Hunter, for his part, is having none of it.

"That will kind of play itself out," he said when asked about Hunter and Majerle after practice on Tuesday. "I am concerned about our team, our players.

"We're fine right now."

Igor Kokoskov, for one, believes in honoring his contract with the Suns and never once considered refusing to show up on Sunday when he didn't get the head job. It wasn't even a question for him, like it was for those others under the same guaranteed contract to be an assistant coach for the NBA Phoenix Suns.

Sure there's loyalty and there's ego stroking involved in these things. I'd be butt-hurt too if I thought I deserved something more than someone else did, but didn't get the job. And if I had enough money in the bank, I'd consider walking out the door and slamming it in the guy's face who didn't have the intelligence to hire me.

But I'll also tell you this: karma is a bitch.

You walk out and refuse to honor your obligations because you weren't promoted at the first opportunity, and that sticks with you. It's not on your resume, but it's on your resume.

Other front offices see this and they have to have conversations with you and others and themselves to decide who's most at fault for the walk-out. Here's the huge problem: they spend more time talking about that than your qualifications.

Majerle and Turner have to count on every future employer making a value judgment in their favor. There's a gigantic measure of faith involved to absolve Majerle or Turner of all wrongdoing by leaving their contracts. And if you can't absolutely absolve them of disloyalty, of their lack of professionalism in completing their contracts, then you can't hire them yourself. How can a future employer know that these guys will finish their next contract unless they're promoted before it's up?

Sure, I get it. Majerle and Turner were "screwed" out of being able to steer the ship, and they are pissed off that some yahoo got it over them.

Well, welcome to the real world. It doesn't always happen that the guy with the most experience gets promoted. I see it every damn day.

New coach Lindsey Hunter isn't waiting for these guys to come back. He's moving on with what he has.

"We're fine right now. I will be leaning on Igor and Corey [Gaines] and Noel [Gillespie] and whoever else as much as possible," he said. "I am very comfortable in my own skin. I don't care if Igor runs everything.

"The bottom line is that we've got to get better. However, through who, it doesn't matter."

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