Suns Rumored to Be Looking at Head Coaching Options

Updated 2/16/09

The Phoenix Suns on Monday did what had been rumored since late last week - firing Terry Porter as head coach.  Assistant coach Alvin Gentry will replace Porter for the remainder of the season.

For Suns fans, the change at coach could signify a return to the run 'n gun team that we've been accustomed to seeing the past 5 yrs.  Gentry is the lone holdout in the coaching staff from the D'Antoni days and prefers the uptempo style that made the Suns so popular prior to this season.

It is still unclear if the team will try to make a move before the trade deadline, considering they've already changed the head coach, but anything is possible.  The team is facing some financial hardships next season, especially if they fail to make the playoffs this year and/or advance past the 1st round.  Amare Stoudemire has the most trade value and largest "on the books" contract, so moving him will reduce the long-term debt the team faces.

With Shaquille O'Neal's stellar (and nimble) play in Sunday's All-Star game, he may have elevated his trade value as well.  The Suns would be wise to listen to ANY offers for Shaq.  With $20+ million on the cap for next year, not to mention the remainder of this year's contract, he would give the team more immediate financial relief.  Of course, any trade would have to be equitable in terms of $ value, so the team would still likely be on the hook for this year, regardless of who they bring in, but would save money next year if one or more of those pick-up's contract expires at the end of this year.

Ultimately, what I think led to Porter's demise was the way he carried himself w/ the players and his choices for his coaching staff. Not to knock the assistants too much, but Dan Majerle had no prior experience and Bill Cartwright had gotten himself fired in Chicago, so it isn't like he had a staff w/ winning experience.  Yes, these guys won on the court as players, but they had no coaching experience that was meaningful. 

Porter was also too "friendly" to the existing players and/or lacked the backbone to make them play his way - or not play at all.  Defense was supposed to be the theme of this year's team, but they never really showed it.  If it was so important to the team, then Porter should've talked to GM Steve Kerr and requested to sit players who were not participating on the defensive side of the ball.  Granted, he shouldn't have to "ask" Kerr to do anything since he is the coach, but as a 1st year coach w/ an established group of players, he would've been off his rocker to bench Amare, Shaq or Nash w/out the GM's blessing.

Porter's short-term gig w/ the Suns is unfortunate, but best for the franchise in the long run.  The team was simply unresponsive to the changes Porter was suppose to have brought w/ him from the Pistons.  It was evident fairly early in the season that this situation was not going to work out (see J-Rich trade, etc.).

Original Post 2/13/09

Reports are abound this morning that current Phoenix Suns head coach Terry Porter is on his way out of the desert, despite only being employed by the Suns for a whopping 8 months.  The announcement of Porter being chosen as the Suns coach was in June of last year, so he's really served a limited role to-date.

The Suns are playing extremely inconsistenly - good one night, bad the next.  There are plenty of excuses being thrown around, from being in a new system, Shaq clogging the middle and poor defense.  I'm sure it is easily a combination of all of these things, as well as the pressure to win being thrust upon them by management, the media and us as fans.  They've been so good recently, that we expect them to win the same way they have in the past.

Suns Coaching Options

  • GM Steve Kerr has been rumored as a possible replacement for Porter.  Although Kerr has stated numerous times he has no interest in coaching, he may need to step in to help clean up the mess he has created by hiring Porter and trading for Shaq.  Of course, he could dig himself deeper, which would be a great excuse for Robert Sarver to go out and find someone else.
  • Assistant coach Alvin Gentry is also a possible candidate. Former coach (Pistons, etc.) and a leftover from the D'Antoni run & gun era that several of the remaining players still long for (e.g. Nash, Stoudemire).
  • Somebody else... Not sure who is available, but at this point, they need someone who will put their foot down and put these players in their place.
  • No change... Porter has only been coach for 8 months, during which point he inherited a roster unhappy w/ D'Antoni's departure, attempted to modify the way the team plays (not their strengths) and a trade of two key role players (Bell, Diaw).

If you watch the games, Terry Porter is a bum... and I don't mean that in a way that negatively, per say.  I don't see him yelling at players for mistakes, I don't see him even talking to the team or getting them excited.  He looks as depressed and unhappy on the bench as many of the players.

Btw... Did you see new Sun Jason Richardson pouting on the bench in the loss to the Cavs on Wednesday?  I thought this was an NCAA Champion, a competitor, a hustle guy.  In that game, he was neither.  He sat on the bench, covered his head w/ a towel and generally looked like he would like to be anywhere else but Cleveland (can't say I blame him however).

And of course, on top of the rumored coaching change, the Suns are also shopping anyone and everyone on the roster, aside from Steve NashAmare Stoudemire's name is the one that comes up most frequently in trade talks, but Kerr has indicated that they will evaluate any deals that are proposed.

Published Friday, February 13, 2009 10:04 AM by chowell
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