Don Newman interviews with Phoenix about vacant assistant job

Spurs assistant coach Don Newman has interviewed with the Phoenix Suns about an added assistant coaching position on Coach Alvin Gentry’s staff.

The Arizona Republic reported that Newman talked with Gentry in a job that the Phoenix coach hopes will improve his team’s leaky defense.

Gentry also has talked with former Chicago assistant and current scout Pete Myers and Houston assistant Elston Turner, who was a finalist for the Suns’ head-coaching job in 2008. The Republic also said that Gentry may meet with Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons and other coaches who have been involved in the conference finals, such as Dallas’ Dwane Casey, Oklahoma City’s Maurice Cheeks and Miami’s Bob McAdoo.

The Suns are hoping to boost their defense after allowing the NBA’s fifth-worst defensive percentage (47.2) in 2010-11. Phoenix general manager Lon Babby has approved allowing Gentry to hire a veteran coach without losing any of his four current assistant coaches.

“I’m going to run it like a football team, and he’ll be a defensive coordinator,” Gentry told the Republic. ”We’ll spend a ton of time meeting the next two to three months to see how we can put changes to be better.

“What I decided was we just needed someone from the outside with a new voice and outlook. It’s not anything against who we have. Dan Majerle played for Pat Riley and was all-defensive, and I do have confidence in Bill Cartwright and the other guys, but we need a new approach because if we’re ever going to be good, we need a whole new voice to be consistent.”

Newman was hired by the Spurs before the start of the 2004-05 season and has worked seven seasons with the franchise.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if he left for what appears to be a better job on the surface than what Newman has with the Spurs. But there appears to be stiff competition for the position among several top assistants from around the league.

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