Gentry has 24 years of experience coaching at the NBA level, having been a head or interim coach for four different franchises. As an assistant coach, Gentry has worked with Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, Larry Brown and Mike D'Antoni in Phoenix.
He's also no stranger to the area as a Shelby native and an Appalachian State graduate.
And he's also no stranger to the Bobcats.
"It reminds me a little bit of the teams I had in L.A. (with the Clippers): Young players, very energetic guys,'' Gentry said. "Kemba (Walker) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have a lot of potential and (Gerald) Henderson has started to really establish himself as a pro.
"I've seen a lot of their games. Yes, they've struggled at times, but that's a situation where you could make a big change in a year or so. I know that player development is really important to that job.''
"You know they're going to get some good young players with those picks and then they have the (cap) flexibility to add a very good veteran player, somebody who can serve as an example to the rest of the locker room,'' Gentry said.
However, unlike Gentry, I haven't watched many Suns games with him as the head coach. For that reason, I went to my friend and NBA League Manager for SB Nation, Seth Pollack. Seth used to cover the Suns when he lived in Phoenix so I'd say he's a great person to ask about Gentry's positives and negatives.
Alvin Gentry is a very good basketball coach. He's been involved with the game his entire life starting as a kid in rural North Carolina. He's coached with some of the legends of the game including Larry Brown and Gregg Popovich and knows everyone associated with basketball...and that's no exaggeration.
On the plus side, Alvin is fantastic with the media and is a great "face" for the franchise. He's got a relationship with Michael Jordan and would bring a mature and credible presence to the Bobcats. He's known for being more of an offensive coach, which is fair, but it's not as if he doesn't understand NBA defense and with the right roster, could do well on that front.
Gentry's biggest asset is his ability to motivate players. Guys love playing for him because he communicates so well and explains things to his team. Players know what to expect and know where they stand. He also does a great job (one of the best I've seen in any sport) at being both the "friendly father type" as well as the the "hard ass". He can scream at players one minute and hug them the next and it all works and guys accept and appreciate both. To me, that's his greatest strength and most unique characteristic as a head coach.
On the down side, no one would accuse Alvin of being innovative on either end of the floor. He doesn't have an established "style of play" and is perhaps best described, in my opinion, as "mediocre" in technical abilities. Perhaps most troubling for the Bobcats is his perceived lack of ability to develop young players. He's great at the people side of that but I wouldn't say he's a guy that's going to work one-on-one developing fundamental skills.
Overall, I think Gentry would be a fine coach for the Cats provided he has a good staff around him with an emphasis on player development. Over the past few years, the Suns recognized this and brought in additional skills coaches to work more with the young guys and I think that's a good model. He's a low risk choice but isn't likely to blow the doors off the job either.
With this in mind as the Bobcats make their steps forward in narrowing their candidates in the race for head coach, Alvin Gentry's name might be one you hear a good bit. If nothing else, it seems this is a promising start to the field of options for a new head coach.