Capitals

Phoenix Suns pick Lindsey Hunter as interim coach

Phoenix Suns pick Lindsey Hunter as interim coach

PHOENIX (AP) The Phoenix Suns have turned to a man with 17 years of experience as an NBA player, but none as a coach, to take over the flagging team that hasn't been this bad halfway through a season in a quarter century.

Lindsey Hunter, the team's player development director, was picked as its interim coach Sunday, two days after the Suns and Alvin Gentry parted ways in what the organization said was a mutual agreement.

Hunter got the nod over more experienced options - assistant coaches Elston Turner, Dan Majerle and Igor Kokoskov.

``I think the simple answer is that the organization needed a jolt,'' general manager Lance Blanks said. ``We needed something that would shock the system of us, the players, and risk trumps safety in this business. We felt this was the right person to take the risk on.''

Hunter, 40, is the coach for the remaining 41 games of the season.

After that, Blanks said, ``we'll open things back up and at that time select the best candidate, which may or may not be Lindsey.''

``But he believes he can get us to the end of the season and do the things that we need done as an organization and most importantly for these guys on the floor,'' Blanks added.

Hunter joined the Suns in the scouting department last year and this season took over the team's new player development department.

As a guard with five NBA teams, Hunter averaged 8.5 points, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals in 937 games, 438 as a starter. He won NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002 and the Detroit Pistons in 2004.

``I'm a little overwhelmed right now,'' he said after leading the team through practice Sunday. ``I'm tired, but today was fun. If you don't know by now, I'm a basketball junkie, so my ideal way to function daily is to be in the gym. It was a good day, the first day of practicing, and I think the guys enjoyed it.''

Hunter retired in 2010 and served in a player development job with Detroit before coming to Phoenix. As a finalist for the Orlando head coaching job last offseason, Hunter mentioned learning from the likes of Larry Brown, Doug Collins and Phil Jackson.

``I've always, since high school, considered myself a coach on the floor,'' Hunter said. ``I've always had really tough coaches who demanded that, and I embraced it and I actually enjoyed it.''

The Suns, with nine new players on their roster this season, have lost 13 of 15, including four straight at home, and at 13-28 have the worst record in the Western Conference. They don't play again until Wednesday, when they face the Kings in Sacramento. Hunter's home debut will come Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, who have the West's second-best record at 32-9.

Hunter said his goal for the team is ``just getting better.''

``If we can get better, then I'm not looking at wins and losses,'' he said. ``And I know this job is judged by that. I'm not a stranger to that, but realistically looking at it I want our team and our guys to find their confidence and just go out and play with passion. That's basically what I'm trying to do now.''

The emphasis, Hunter said, will be defense.

``I'm a defensive guy,'' he said. ``That's the identity that we're going to try to create, is being a tough, nasty, defensive-minded team, and we'll go from there. I'm not going to try to build Rome in a day. We're going to take it one step at a time and solidify our defense, make sure everybody understands what's going on, and then we'll hold them accountable from there.''

Backup point guard Sebastian Telfair, a big supporter of Gentry, said he wasn't surprised when Hunter got the job.

``Lindsey's going to hold everybody accountable,'' Telfair said. ``He was a player. The players respect him, so I'm anxious to see how this goes.''

The players know Hunter will bring a frank, no-nonsense approach.

``Even when he was a development coach, every time I talked to him, if I make a mistake, he tells me straight to my face,'' Goran Dragic said, ``and you know I think that's good, that everybody knows what is their role and what he is expecting from the players.''

Gentry was Phoenix's coach since Terry Porter was fired at the 2009 All-Star break. His time included a run to the 2010 Western Conference finals in 2010, his first full season as coach. But the team failed to make the playoffs the last two seasons. Then Steve Nash departed to the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Suns, under the direction of team president Lon Babby and Blanks, overhauled the roster.

Meanwhile, owner Robert Sarver has had to face dwindling crowds at US Airways Center.

Gentry tried a series of lineups to develop some sort of chemistry and consistency with no success, and he acknowledged that he understood it was time for a change.

Gentry tweeted Sunday morning that he was ``already bored.''

``Need some suggestions as to what to do to fill the day,'' he wrote. ``Let's hear some good ones.''

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Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx

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Capitals at Ducks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals at Ducks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Coming off of the adrenaline-pumping 5-1 win over the Sharks on Thursday, the Capitals (32-19-7) will face off against the Anaheim Ducks (22-27-9) Sunday evening. The Capitals hope to maintain their energy with a win over the Ducks, the second-worst team in the Pacific Division.
 
The Ducks broke a seven-game losing streak (which began towards the end of January) to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, but lost again to the Boston Bruins on Friday. The Ducks are seventh in the Pacific Division, only slightly above the Los Angeles Kings.


Here is everything you need to know about the Sunday night, which takes place at 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.


CAPITALS at DUCKS HOW TO WATCH


What: Washington Capitals at Anaheim Ducks, Game 59 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif.
When: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Capitals at Ducks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder Link)
Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Ducks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.
Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS at DUCKS TV SCHEDULE


8 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
8:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
9 PM: Capitals at Ducks
11:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
12 AM: Caps Overtime Live


CAPITALS at DUCKS INJURY REPORT

Capitals: 
No injuries to report.

Ducks: 
Ryan Miller -- knee injury as of Feb. 15. 
Nick Ritchie -- illness as of Feb. 15.
Chad Johnson -- head injury as of Feb. 13. 
John Gibson -- back, neck and head injuries as of Feb. 8. 
Patrick Eaves -- flu-like symptoms as of Feb. 7. 
Ondrej Kase -- torn labrum in his right shoulder as of Jan. 18. 

CAPITALS at DUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (39 goals, 27 assists, 66 points): Ovechkin is the leading goal scorer in the NHL. In the Caps’ last game against the Sharks, the team captain contributed one goal and one assist in the team’s blowout 5-1 win.

T.J. Oshie, F, Capitals (18 goals, 18 assists, 36 points): Oshie scored his 500th career point in his second goal against the Sharks on Thursday. He’s been a key player on the ice this February, scoring three goals and contributing with five assists. 

CAPITALS vs. DUCKS SERIES HISTORY


Number of all-time Meetings: 36
All-Time Series Record: Ducks lead 18-17-1
Last Meeting: Ducks win 6-5 (12/2/18)

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Former Nationals GM thinks the Bryce Harper sweepstakes are almost over

Former Nationals GM thinks the Bryce Harper sweepstakes are almost over

Another day, another favorite in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.

It’s not a completely new team this time around, but former baseball executive and current analyst Jim Bowden feels pretty confident in the Philadelphia Phillies landing the services of the star outfielder.

“I keep hearing there’s a lot of momentum and traction here on him going and signing with the Philadelphia Phillies,” Bowden shared on CBS Sports HQ. “And he could be rounding third and heading home shortly.”

Bowden appeared on the program to help react to the most recent betting odds on Harper, specifically those that have the San Francisco Giants as the clear favorites. Bowden disagrees with that projection, especially considering the length of the offers involved. 

It’s clear the Giants are hoping to sign Harper to a short term deal, but the former Nationals general manager is convinced the outfielder will end up getting a significantly longer deal.

10 years, $300 million is of course the terms of the deal the Nationals reportedly offered Harper months ago as the offseason was getting underway, so if he’s been holding out for a better contract then the Phillies may be forced to top it.

One point Bowden made during the interview was how badly Harper wants to win “right now.” The Giants, Padres, and White Sox don’t appear ready to truly compete for another few seasons, which is why he so emphatically endorses Philadelphia or Washington as the ultimate destination. 

The Phillies and Nats look like the only two competitors who can feasibly win the World Series as early as 2019, and if that’s truly important to Harper, it helps weed out the competition.

Of course, as with the litany of Bryce Harper rumors we’ve heard all winter long, this comes with a baseball-sized grain of salt. 

Various teams have taken turns atop the leaderboard when it comes to guessing where Harper will end up, and while the Phillies are probably the most consistent favorite of the offseason, there’s obviously a reason why they and/or Harper have yet to pull the trigger on a deal. 

The fit seems clear, and the money is there, but for now, Harper is still unemployed, which means every team still has an opportunity to wow him with an offer. It wouldn’t too be surprising if he ultimately ends up in Philadelphia, and if Jim Bowden is to be believed, that news could be coming sooner rather than later.

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