UPDATE 1-NBA-Suns part ways with head coach Gentry

(adds quotes, detail)

* Gentry leaves after compiling 158-144 record

* Interim coach to be announced within 48 hours

Jan 18 (Reuters) - The Phoenix Suns have ended head coach Alvin Gentry's tenure of almost four years in charge of the Western Conference strugglers after both sides "mutually agreed to part ways", the team said on Friday.

The Suns have made a poor start to the campaign and sit bottom of the Pacific division with a 13-28 record, which is also the poorest in the conference.

"All of us, including Alvin, realised that the pieces weren't fitting," Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby said in a statement.

"To be sure, integrating nine new players was a challenge."

Gentry has been part of the Phoenix coaching system since 2004, first as an assistant before taking over the top job as interim head coach in Feb. 2009 and on a permanent basis from May the same year.

"Alvin's hard work, dedication and coaching ability over the last nine years have been an important part of the success of our organisation." Suns managing partner Robert Sarver added.

"These partings are never easy but are, unfortunately, part of the business of professional sports. I wish nothing but the best for Alvin and his family."

In his time as head coach of the Suns, Gentry compiled a 158-144 (.523) record, earning one playoff appearance and a trip to the 2010 Western Conference Finals.

"After nine years with the Suns, the organisation and I came to a mutual agreement to go in different directions," Gentry said.

"I have the utmost respect for Robert (Sarver) and what he's done with the organisation. It's unfortunate that I was unable to accomplish what I set out to do here."

The team said an interim replacement would be announced within 48 hours. (Reporting by Ben Everill and Simon Evans; Editing by John O'Brien)