June 2008 - Posts

Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns and head coach Terry Porter have completed updating the rest of the coaching staff.

Three of four are familiar faces to most NBA and Suns fans, while the fourth is not as familiar, but does have some quality basketball background. 

Alvin Gentry - A former head coach and lead assistant to former Suns coach Mike D'Antoni.  For Gentry, this will be his 5th year on the Phoenix Suns coaching staff.  His familiarity with all of the current players should help smooth the transition for Terry Porter as he implements a new system.

"Thunder" Dan Majerle -  Thunder Dan is a former Suns player and Ring of Honor inductee.  He has been a TV analyst for the past few years and has experience with the new head coach (teammates in Miami).  While Majerle does bring some defensive skills to the table, he has no prior coaching experience, so I don't look for him to provide anything out of the shoot.

Bill Cartwright -  An NBA champion, former head coach and generally speaking, a great tutor for young big men, Cartwright will likely be tasked with improving the team's interior defense.  Bill also has experience w/ Kerr (on the Bulls) and played one season for the Suns (wow, really?).

Igor Kokoskov -  This one is a stretch, but Porter has experience w/ Igor in both Detroit and w/ Gentry (Clippers), so they must have confidence in him.  Of special note, is the fact that the Suns have made Kokoskov the first non-American assistant coach in NBA history - very hard to believe he's the first, but it's true.

Based on this assembly, it's clear that GM Steve Kerr and Porter will be focusing on improving the Suns defensive abilities and strategies.  No one knows if the strategy will work at this point, but coming back w/ the same offense (2nd half offense) and an improved defense can't hurt.

Unless the coaches start working w/ Amare Stoudemire during the summer, I see him struggling the most w/ the new concepts and roles that will be dictated.  Steve Nash will also figure to have a modified role, but only in the fact that the Suns probably won't be running the 7 second offense any longer.

While this figures to be a bumpy ride, you have to give some praise to Kerr for going out and getting a few experienced guys to help shape the team.  While Majerle is new, he's familiar w/ the team and the players, so he may be able to help in ways we're not aware of at this time.

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Boston Celtics - 2008 NBA Champions

The Boston Celtics left no doubt who this year's NBA Champion is, after an overwhelmingly dominate performance against the L.A. Lakers on Tuesday night.  Final score 131-92.

Up by as many as 43 points in the game, the Celtics were really never in any danger of having to play a Game 7.  This game was in the bag at halftime for the famed green & white.

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Co. were spectacular and stepped up when it counted.  I doubt you will hear much more talk about KG playing well in big games or about Allen being soft.  While Paul Pierce is virtually assured of going into the Celtics ring of honor, another year or two from Garnett and Allen may have them in the discussions as well.

The loss has to be devasting for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, but they got beat by the better team.  Boston's defense was incredible on a night that it had to be.  The Celtics had more steals in the first half than the Lakers had field goals; the Lakers had more turnovers in the first half than field goals.  Overall, a horrible game by LA and a superb game by Boston.

The fans voted Kevin Garnett the MVP of Game 6 after a totally dominate game.  I know I keep saying "dominate", but there's really no other way to explain the game.

Garnett was particularly interesting during the post-game interview, but he's now "certified"... he's basically cemented his place in NBA history w/ the championship.  After 11 All-Star appearances, an MVP award and this year's Defensive Player of the Year award, Garnett has officially joined the NBA's all-time elite.

Allen and Garnett paced the Celtics w/ 26 points apiece, but it was Rajon Rondo who really stole the show on this night...literally.  Rajon finished w/ 6 steals and it seemed like he came up w/ one each time that LA had thoughts of making a comeback.  On this night, Boston could not be denied.

The Celtics win their 17th NBA Championship overall.

Paul Pierce is named the Finals MVP after a good performance in Game 6.  I would make the argument that Ray Allen deserves the award, but Pierce or Garnett are just as deserving.

Steve Kerr has made his decision... Terry Porter will be the new head coach of the Phoenix Suns.

The announcement ends about a month of unknowns for a club that got bounced in the 1st round of the 2008 NBA Playoffs.  Kerr chose Porter primarily based on the fact that he had prior coaching experience, albeit only 2 yrs w/ Milwaukee.

"He's got a great combination of leadership skills," Kerr said in a telephone interview. "He's a great communicator. And his coaching experience, two years as a head coach, is important to me. The fact that he's sat in that chair, that was a key factor. He's very tough-minded."

Terry Porter's contract with the Suns is reportedly for 3 yrs and a total of $7 million.  Quite a bargain compared to the $6 million annual salary that former coach Mike D'Antoni is getting in New York.

Porter will have his hands full next year with a roster which could be past it's prime and might begin a rebuilding process soon.  He will certainly have the respect of the veterans, having played against most of them during his career, but it's unknown how he'll mesh with the Suns future superstar, Amare Stoudemire.  Amare is certainly a superstar, but Porter is likely to push STAT for more than he's provided in the past.  Avoiding a conflict with Amare will be key, but if he's not able to coincide with the coach, it would not be out of the question for Kerr to move Stoudemire for equal value.

I'm glad that the coaching search is over and I think they chose the best candidate from their list.  They still have their hands full choosing an assistant coaching staff, since their needs for a defensive guru and someone to work with Amare have yet to be addressed.  Congratulations to Terry Porter on becoming the new Phoenix Suns coach.

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Steve Kerr, GM of the Phoenix Suns, confirmed recently that the full interviewing process has pretty much been completed by the ownership & management group.  Kerr pointed out that conversations are still ongoing for the Suns coaching job, but that the formal "in-person" interviews are complete.

"We're getting a lot closer," Kerr told reporters Wednesday. "Our interview process is probably completed. There may be a few more phone conversations. But we're really pleased with the candidates that we've put together."

The list of possible candidates for the Phoenix Suns next coach are (in no particular order);

  1. Terry Porter - Pistons assistant
  2. Tyrone Corbin - Jazz assistant
  3. Elston Turner - Rockets assistant
  4. Mike Budenholzer - Spurs assistant  (god, I'd hate to have to type this all the time)

The Detroit Pistons fired their head coach, Flip Saunders, who might normally be considered a candidate for the position, but Kerr echoed the fact that the interview process is already too far in, and that Saunders would not be interviewed.

"We're pretty far in our process," Kerr said. "I have a lot of respect for him, but I also think the process we've undertaken is a good one. We feel really good about it. I don't feel like changing course altogether and doing something that's just totally out of the blue."

I think Kerr is right about skipping on Saunders... aside from the 7-second shot rule that D'Antoni instilled on the Suns, Flip is basically Mike.  They are both non-confrontational w/ their players and are almost lax (to a fault) when it comes to making players accountable.  Saunders proved that, even with a top-notch roster of talent in Detroit, he couldn't motivate them to win the big games (Cavs in 2007, Celtics in 2008).  Sounds a lot like Mike's resume against the Spurs.

It is estimated that Kerr and the Suns will name a new head coach as early as this weekend, but most likely within the next week and a half.  With a 2nd interview this week, it would appear that Terry Porter is the favorite, although Steve could play favorites and go w/ one of his former assistant coaches in Budenholzer.  If Kerr does go w/ Mike B., I guess using the theory that it's best to keep friends close, and enemies even closer (a former Spurs' coach). 

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