Categories
Articles | Commentary | Interviews

Getting to know Alvin Gentry, with Oleh Kosel

Oleh Kosel of The Bird Writes joins us for a Q&A to tell us what to expect with Alvin Gentry in charge.

With Alvin Gentry taking the reigns, I thought it would be nice to learn a little more about our interim head coach. Oleh Kosel, Editor-In-Chief of The Bird Writes, was kind enough to join me for a quick Q&A to share his impressions of Gentry from when Gentry was head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.

What was your overall impression of Gentry as a coach?

Although he doesn’t have a combined winning percentage in his 17 years as a head coach, a positive one.

Gentry was often not handed grade A rosters to work with, or injuries ravaged many a New Orleans’ season, but there were enough glimpses that his style could yield results. The 2017-18 Pelicans campaign that culminated in a first round sweep of the Trail Blazers. During Zion Williamson’s rookie season, a 22-14 run once vital cogs of the rotation started getting healthy. Had Covid-19 not put that campaign on hold, the postseason felt like a lock for that group.

During some really dark times, Gentry was a leader of men. When Anthony Davis set New Orleans on fire with his trade request, Gentry was given the full responsibility to douse the flames. He bore the brunt of not only trying to win games with a team whose superstar wanted out, he singlehandedly had to deal with the fallout in media.

As another example, during a franchise-worst 13-game losing streak, I witnessed firsthand Gentry talking up even veterans like Jrue Holiday in the locker room. Sure enough, no trade requests were made and that Pelicans season righted itself.

What are Gentry’s strengths as a coach?

There’s a premium on shooting and offense more than ever, so Gentry’s vast knowledge in this area and having full reins will provide value. While Sacramento’s offense has undoubtedly enjoyed an uptick in performance since Gentry’s arrival, a team with De’Aaron Fox as its point guard and solid shooting around him should be better than 73.3 offensive rating in clutch minutes. Gentry’s guidance should help.

The newest head coach in Kings franchise history is also one of the best people persons in the league. In an NBA where head coaches must be able to relate to players more than ever, Gentry is a fantastic relationship-builder. He’s a player’s coach through and through. There hasn’t been much to celebrate in Sacramento with 15 straight seasons of missing the playoffs, but a lighter, more fun locker room could be the recipe for greater engagement and better execution.

What was Gentry’s biggest weakness?

Many probably think he ignores the defensive side of the ball, but that’s simply not true. Several of his teams in New Orleans were very solid defensively. So his biggest weakness, in my opinion, is that he simply places too much trust in his players at times — whether it’s logical to do so or not.

Gentry does not hold hands. He’s the opposite of Rick Carlisle. Unlike coaches who control a good deal of the action from the sidelines like Stan Van Gundy, Gentry’s strategies are as free flowing as anyone’s. This freedom operates wonderfully on squads with high IQ veterans, but not so much on teams led by inexperienced youth.

The Kings are an interesting mix. While only 24 years old, Fox is in his fifth season. Hield, Barnes and Holmes are all solid veterans. Haliburton and Mitchell have been lauded for their high IQ and work ethic. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to allow these Kings players to be more involved in the decision-making process.

Anything else you think Kings fans should know?

Alvin Gentry is a good coach but an even better human being. He possesses great character. That’s why he’s been able to hang around for so long in the league. Gentry has fared incredibly well in some impossible situations. Even when times got rough, one could always count on his outlook to stay sunny. It can be uplifting for a franchise that has suffered through far too much disappointment.

Thank you for the insights and your time, Oleh!

Support Us On Patreon
Subscribe
Notify of
23 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Marty
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
November 22, 2021 2:28 pm

EXXXXCELLLENT

A11FA461-82F5-4847-867A-E7B274D8C482.jpeg
SMF-PDXConnection
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
November 22, 2021 4:55 pm
Reply to  Marty

Now this is billboard material.

andy_sims
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
November 22, 2021 2:51 pm

Nice work getting hold of someone who has some experience on the subject. It doesn’t sound like we can expect any kind of drastic change, but if Gentry so much as installs an actual half court offense, maybe some of those pound-the-rock take a bad shot possessions can become assisted buckets.

Defense is still a whole other matter. The results seemed very promising out of the gate, with terrific effort from everyone, but there’s been some backsliding (landsliding?). The roster very obviously needs work, but if Gentry can manage to get better and more consistent play from it, we could be looking at a better basketball experience.

I don’t expect Gentry to be head coach at the start of next season. The spotlight is on McNair now, and if I were him, I’d rather live or die on my own choices, and not those previously made by someone else.

Amonk81
Original Member
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Vote Up
Comments
November 22, 2021 3:45 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Totally agree about 1/2 court O. Hoping Gentry actually instills one. That will make a difference. And maybe he’ll put players in a spot to succeed on O?

But don’t love the trust in players thing…not sure. Maybe?

murraytant
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
November 22, 2021 4:14 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

I had heard that part of his agreement with the team to take over included a raise and “benchmarks” , that is, if he reached certain goals that he would coach next year as well. He is under contract through next year.
and I heard that Rico Hines got “elevated” to bench coach- any word on that?

Carl
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
November 22, 2021 2:59 pm

I don’t see many additional wins, but I’m 100% in favor of a person I feel good rooting for, who knows what it’s like to deal with a mess above and around him. You’re not likely to hear much complaining from me about coaching, even if Gentry isn’t a game changer, because for the first time in a few years, coaching is not one of the team’s biggest problems.

Last edited 8 days ago by Carl
Rosevillain
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
November 22, 2021 3:05 pm
Reply to  Carl

Yep. Vivek, Monte, Fox – in that order.

andy_sims
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
November 22, 2021 3:28 pm
Reply to  Carl

Very nicely put.

Kingsguru21
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
November 22, 2021 3:32 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

You’d like Oleh. He’s a Reds fan.

Klam
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
November 22, 2021 4:51 pm
Reply to  Carl

Agreed. Simply not having to look at Luke’s stupid face during press conferences alone is a good thing.

Last edited 8 days ago by Klam
TerzoM
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
November 22, 2021 5:14 pm
Reply to  Klam

Agreed as well. And for one last time…comment image

Last edited 8 days ago by TerzoM
cloudyeyes
Comments
Comments
November 22, 2021 5:40 pm
Reply to  TerzoM

Fun fact – Luke Walton holds the best winning % out of any Kings head coach the past 15 years.

AmateurNerd
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
November 22, 2021 8:18 pm
Reply to  cloudyeyes

Hey look, the most solid turd in the toilet bowl!

oshima9
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
November 22, 2021 3:13 pm

“So his biggest weakness, in my opinion, is that he simply places too much trust in his players at times — whether it’s logical to do so or not. . . . Unlike coaches who control a good deal of the action from the sidelines like Stan Van Gundy, Gentry’s strategies are as free flowing as anyone’s. This freedom operates wonderfully on squads with high IQ veterans, but not so much on teams led by inexperienced youth.”

It’s hard to imagine a coaching style less suited for this team.

Kingsguru21
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
November 22, 2021 3:22 pm

OLEH!!!!!!!!

Seriously, one of the good dudes out there. While I get his points regarding trust…. let’s just say I’ll believe it when I see it with this group

rockbottom
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
November 22, 2021 4:21 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Gentry will improve the team just enough to be the coach next season !

Bluejohn
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
November 22, 2021 4:51 pm
Reply to  rockbottom

So 36 wins?

RPO
Original Member
Original Member
RPO
November 22, 2021 4:33 pm

Appreciate the extra research on Gentry. In approximately two years we’ll need extra research on whoever the next coach is. Per Vivek’s MO, the GM will be fired at some point after the next coach is named, so the new GM might be able to make use of that research, too.

TheBaker
Comments
Comments
November 22, 2021 5:35 pm

Good write-up. Despite his record; I’ve always liked Gentry and tbt teams he has led. Fun to watch if not spectacular winners.
Anyone has to be better than the schmuck who could not make adjustments or draw up a play to find his way out of a paper bag.

not gonna lie, this part scares me a little, though; “This freedom operates wonderfully on squads with high IQ veterans, but not so much on teams led by inexperienced youth.”

eddie41
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
November 22, 2021 6:37 pm

What do you all think of the DJ? Honest question. Okay maybe there was a coaching change, blah blah blah, but no one has mentioned the arena DJ. Do you all even know his name? And what do you think about his music selection?

kings4ever
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
November 22, 2021 6:54 pm

I am going to start with a fresh slate with the interim. Regarding his past I am not impressed but I like he characterized Cousins as toxic, not worth having on your team at any cost.

Here is the thing about the New Guy. He’s as much under the gun as the old guy. This is good. Pressure creates diamonds. This is not his first rodeo but his last, in regards to a chance to secure the coveted head position on an NBA team. He needs a McMillan like performance, long as those odds may be, if he wants one last deal and shot at post season glory, and that only happens with 8th seed finish or better.

The best thing he can do for starters is :

(1) Do NOT play Marvin under any circumstance. Here’s a guy sitting on a bike in the tunnel, not keeping his muscles loose and warm, but trying to create as much distance as he can from himself and the team. Why not just go to the parking lot and sit in his ride and listen to his tunes? Then while at it, jamming to the beats, drive home, no one will miss you!

Even if his decorum was beyond reproach we have NO time for his softness and selfishness and flawed fundamentals and flatlinine development over 4 years. If you cannot make this proper and righteous call, for the rest of the season or until hes traded, there is NO hope for the new guy anymore than there was the old.

(2) Become besties with Fox quick, in regards to communication and optimizing his game, and that is going to happen if you open up the floor and the number of possessions. This includes more Metu and Jones with Fox, more Davion with Fox to ease his defensive burden.

I wanted to think Len would be nice to have as a pick cruncher on the top of the key, but Len does not roll to the basket, he’s not a lob threat. He’s been missing his chippies. Whiteside was more of an impact player for us last year regardless of what wayward critics want you to think.

Jones cannot set as good of a pick as Len, but he can set a pretty good pick, roll hard, catch and jam. Jones only takes good shots and shoots around 65% FGs. If we are going to become the fastest pace team in the league, we should try to carve out minutes for Jones at the expense of TT and Len.

Jones can swat a few shots too. Where are shot swatters? We have none!

(3) Davion has been struggling but the one lineup change I would make is put him in with the starters. You can either bring Ty off the bench or slide HB down to the 4 and Ty to the 3. We need to set that defensive intensity from the outset put Fox on the lesser backcourt player so he can focus on scoring and dishing and try to run teams off the floor.

(4) More structured plays for HB. Do not always expect he will get his in the flow of the offense. Go to him by design. He is shooting 64% TS% and 20 PPG. This is a no brainer.

(5) Ty and Fox need to be staggered more. I do not know if their chemistry is great but I do think one of them should be on the floor at all times. When Fox is off the floor and Ty is on it, we should just run pick and roll with Holmes every time. It is our best play especially if we add more wrinkles out of it to make it unpredictable.

(6) With regards to TD and Buddy and Metu, your objective is to take clean and open 3s, and ideally these shots come in early offense, delayed fast break, or drive and kick. There needs to be much less of a green light for these guys to jack. If the new coach can get the team to play this way, force the defense to guard you and not worry about getting your shot but the best shot regardless who takes it, that will solve a lot of problems.

What can happen is if you are too selective you can overdribble and make TOs. Perfection is the enemy of good and it takes discernment and patience and skill that the aforementioned players may lack to consistently get good shots. A coach can only do so much in this regard. This is where the ball really needs to be in the hands of our best ball handlers, this includes Davion, so these dumb hurried shots are minimized.

The bottom line is the former coach did NOT do enough to demand selectivity, with focus on quality over quantity. This seems like an easy point of emphasis that can help right the ship.

(7) One thing that can change is the energy from the top down. Fluke had BAD mojo. I don’t know how to describe. Too analytical. Too stuck in his head. Rather dull and monotous. No sense of the moment. Too much pleading falling on deaf ears, too much dogma the way he tried to solve problems. No innovation yet pretend to have answers because of that one time in GSW? Those laurels were a mirage. The team was at the peak of its powers with Klay and Curry. He could have picked his nose and scratched himself and the team would have been .750 win percentage.

So the interim can leverage this contrast by not being the former coach. Be the light in the place of the former darkness. Lift the mood and spirit and remind your players we are here to have fun too. There are fans saying nothing will change because it is going to be the same offense and same defense. But when you are replacing a bad coach with bad mojo you don’t even have to be so special, you have to not be him. Thats as good of a place to start as any.

eddie41
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
November 22, 2021 7:12 pm
Reply to  kings4ever

some pretty good points in here

AmateurNerd
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
November 22, 2021 8:17 pm

One of my best friends is a diehard Suns fans and simply said this about Gentry’s tenure in Phoenix: “Gentry is a f—— great coach.” Nobody expects him to coach the Kings long-term, but there is a reason he has a sub-.500 career winning percentage yet keeps getting hired to be a head coach. He’s good, and has spent his career helming mostly bad rosters and getting them to play about as well as anyone could reasonably hope. Even if his final coaching level is “average,” that is orders of magnitude above Puke Walton.

Badge Legend

Patreon Supporter Patreon Supporter   Registered On Day 1 Registered On Day 1   Published Post Published Post  Published Post Nostradumbass
Comment Up Votes 200 Up Votes   Comment Up Votes 500 Up Votes    1,000 Up Votes    3,000+ Up Votes
Comments 50 Comments   Comments 100 Comments    250 Comments    500 Comments    1000+ Comments