This is the first training camp without Nash since he signed with Phoenix in 2004 and transformed the team into an ultra-up-tempo squad, entertaining all who watched and advancing twice to the Western Conference finals, but never any farther. Hill, one of the most respected men in professional sports, joined in 2007 and resuscitated a career that had been devastated by injury.
But after the departure of Amar'e Stoudemire to the New York Knicks, the Suns descended into mediocrity and after last season, Nash and Hill left for the greener pastures of Los Angeles, Nash to the Lakers and Hill to the Clippers.
Another absence on Monday had not been planned. Forward Channing Frye, who during a routine exam two weeks ago was diagnosed with an enlarged heart. He is expected to miss the season.
"It's a lot bigger deal than basketball," Gentry said. "I'm happy that he's OK right now. He's got a great family, two wonderful kids."
Gentry said he believes the Suns are "still going to be a pretty deep thing, have the ability to play nine or 10 guys. We will really miss Channing. He's still going to be a part of our team. Anytime he wants to be here, he wants to be around, he will be here with us."
Gentry, entering his fourth full season as Suns coach, promises to maintain the fast-paced style with improved half-court play and, as is always promised, an improved defense.
"Hey, we like being the underdog," he said. "It should give you the incentive to play harder, work harder, do everything that's necessary because, basically, what they're saying is they don't believe in us. We believe in us. The coaches believe in us, the players believe in us. At the end of the day, that's the only thing that matters."