Elston Turner doesn't have any experience coaching the Phoenix Suns. But he has plenty when it comes to guiding teams that play a lot like the Suns.
Before following Rick Adelman to Houston last year, Turner was an assistant in Sacramento, where the high-octane Kings ran an up-tempo offense, ran a lot of plays off the elbow and never met a 3-point shot it didn't like.
The Kings also had three starters (Mike Bibby, Vlade Divac and Chris Webber) who weren't considered strong defenders, yet the team led the league in field-goal percentage against one season and was among the leaders several times - something a team with Steve Nash, Shaquille O'Neal and Amaré Stoudemire in its starting lineup might take notice of.
Turner had his interview with Suns general manager Steve Kerr Wednesday and all indications are the discussions went well and will keep the 48-year-old Turner on the 'A' list of head coaching candidates.
Mark Jackson and Terry Porter have already interviewed. Jeff Hornacek gets his interview today - although he could be a candidate for an assistant's spot - while another ex-Sun, Tyrone Corbin, is up on Friday. Assistant general manager Vinny Del Negro is apparently also under consideration, although it's not known if he would get a formal interview.
League sources said two names that had been kicked around over the last week, New Orleans coach and former ASU star Byron Scott and Detroit head coach Flip Saunders, would not be candidates in Phoenix even if they became available.
Turner told KTAR (620 AM) Tuesday that the Suns are "a team that's intact with all the pieces in place" and "a good situation" for an incoming coach.
Turner's one year in Houston also could be attractive to Kerr. The Rockets had the league's third-ranked defense in 2006-07 under coach Jeff Van Gundy and lead assistant Tom Thibodeau - now coaching in Boston and a person who could also be of interest to the Suns.
But after that staff departed and Adelman and Turner took over this season, Houston not only took several steps forward offensively but improved to second in defense, despite losing center Yao Ming for the final third of the season.
"Defense is a big part of winning games," Turner told KTAR. "We came into a good situation in Houston with a lot of players who loved to compete. "
Turner said his coaching style would be a conglomeration of the things he learned during his eight-year NBA playing career and his long association with Adelman, who had the Kings on the brink of a Western Conference title several times but couldn't get past the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant Laker teams that won three straight league titles.
"Rick's record speaks for itself and there is a real polish to the way he approaches his job. Players love playing for him and I've learned a lot from him," Turner said. "He's allowed me to work closely with him and actually assume some head coaching duties without having the title.