I might be stepping on BSotS editors/writers toes here with another evaluation, but I've got a lot to say on Steve Kerr.

In fact, I've had a lot to say on Kerr ever since he was hired in June 2007 (see below).  Now that we're looking at a complete 3-year tenure, I think an evaluation is in order.  You can vote in the poll, write your comments below, or both.

I've been blogging on the Suns since Oct 2006, nearly all of my work posted on sportingnews.com between 2006 to 2009.

Right after Steve Kerr was hired in June 2007, I posted my thoughts on Kerr at the time. This was before he'd made any changes, any decisions at all. 

So who knows whats going to happen? Maybe Kerr has the magic touch on getting deals done. Maybe he and D'Antoni will mix like salt and pepper (in the good way, like on a steak).

But then maybe this whole thing will blow up, with the coach and GM butting heads until one of them has to go while Nash looks on helplessly.

The latter came true, of course.

Then in May 2008, I posted about his first year behind the wheel, just after the Suns were dispatched in 5 games by the Spurs.  What a sad summer that was.  I waxed philosophical in that post, probably because I was still numb from shock.

Lets just call it the circle of life. Two years ago, the Suns were revolutionary. They were unique. But a short shelf life is inherent in those descriptions. How can it be a revolution if it lasts forever? How can it be unique if everyone else is doing it?

So now the Suns are at a crossroads. Start over? Sure, eventually. But for several reasons, the Suns will not do it quite yet.

So what did Kerr do wrong in that first year at the helm?  Not at much as most people thought, at the time (July 2008).

So what did Kerr do wrong?



Trading Kurt Thomas to Seattle for cap relief? No. The Suns are STILL one of the highest payrolls in basketball, so stop calling Kerr and the owner "cheap". Thomas was costing the Suns $16 million all by himself - and he only played in certain games, against certain teams.

Resting his hopes on injury-prone Grant Hill? No. Hill was a great find, but unfortunately his health failed him once again at the wrong time. He is still a huge bargain.

Trading Marion for Shaq? No. Kerr HAD to do something. If you were really following the team, you'd have seen that something had to change. The Suns with Marion were stale. They'd lost their mojo. Kudos to Kerr for trying to hit the jackpot. O'Neal was only 18 months removed from leading the Heat to their first championship. Maybe he could do it again.

Trading away draft picks? No. Don't blame Kerr for that. It was D'Antoni who said the Suns were not in the business of developing young players, not Kerr. Since taking over the Suns, he has drafted 4 players and all 4 may very well be in the rotation of a 55-win team this season. That last note is important. First and second-year players rarely have big roles in winning teams.

Forcing D'Antoni out? No. Well, yes...to an extent. Kerr wanted the Suns to play a little more defense. D'Antoni stubbornly refused. Ask ANY Suns fan or Suns hater if the Suns needed to play more D. Kerr was right on. D'Antoni left of his own accord, and will rue the day he did so. There are no Steve Nashes in New York.

A year later, the Suns missed the playoffs entirely and spent the summer licking their wounds.  Shaq moved on to greener pastures, thanks to Danny Ferry and our man Kerr, and the were moving forward by looking backward.  Here was my assessment in the summer of 2009, after Kerr decided NOT to blow up the team:

Get the national TV games again. Get the season ticket sales. Appease the rioting locals.

Without Shaq in the middle, next year’s offense will be much more dangerous. The Nash/Stoudemire pick-and-roll is back. The kids are a year older. The rotation is deeper than ever. Rookie Earl Clark looks like a taller Boris Diaw with better on-ball defense. The team will run, players will stay fresh, and the opponent will be gassed by the fourth quarter.

And the defense? Of course, it will suck. But how much worse could the defense possibly be? Only 2 teams allowed more points than last year’s Suns. And the Suns only missed the playoffs by 2 games (which, in terms of standings, equals a single loss to Utah).

Don’t be shocked when the Suns surprise a few people this fall by beating the beatable teams easily.

Don’t be shocked when Amare Stoudemire is voted the starting center for the West team.

And don’t be shocked when spring conversation takes on the tone of "they’re good, but they’d be more dangerous if they played a little better defense".

And wow, did the 2009-2010 work out even better than I'd hoped.

So how did Kerr do? By his own admission, he screwed up a few times.  Not everything pans out.  But he also did some pretty great things since the Dec. 2008:

  1. Bringing in J-Rich and Duds for Bell and Diaw
  2. Getting Shaq off the hooks, and returning the team to Nash's ultra-capable hands
  3. Hiring a coach with the same vision - deep rotation, develop youth, give a thought to team defense
  4. Signing Channing Frye on the cheap
  5. Re-signing the veteran leaders, Nash and Hill, at discounts
  6. Focusing on the process of improvement, rather than wins and losses

This was all Kerr's vision, from day one.  It just took 3 years to see it work in action.

Poll
How would you grade Kerr as a GM, in retrospect?

  741 votes | Results


Nash reports from South Africa...or somewhere. Oh, and FWIW I first heard that Argentina chant from Diana Taurasi the other day.


There was only one place last season to see these two on the court together. Vegas.

More photos » Laura Rauch - AP

There was only one place last season to see these two on the court together. Vegas.

Browse more photos »

Been waiting on this one for weeks now so I could plan my annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas to "watch basketball". And that's in quotes because the basketball can be a bit rough with these ad hoc teams of fringe NBA players mixed with top-notch rookies going at it with little time to prepare.

But if you can get past the rough team play and focus on individual players, it's a great time. Plus it is in Vegas.

The Suns schedule is:

  • Friday: 3 PM - Houston vs. Phoenix
  • Saturday: 1 PM - Toronto vs. Phoenix
  • Monday: 5:30 PM - Phoenix vs. NBA D-League
  • Wednesday: 5:30 PM - Cleveland vs. Phoenix
  • Thursday: 3 PM - Golden State vs. Phoenix

If you can't make the entire thing, I would recommend going the Fri-Mon route. The early games tend to be better for getting a look at the bigger name players.

For the Suns, that means Earl Clark. I doubt Robin or Goran will play this year in Vegas given how much they've already shown at the NBA level. Dwayne Jones and Taylor Griffin would also probably be on the roster along with any draft picks the Suns end up with (right now that's two 2nd rounders, but one never knows what kinds of trades could happen).

Full schedule after the jump:

2010 NBA Summer League Game Schedule:

All Times listed are local Las Vegas time.

 

Friday July 9

COX Pavilion

1 PM - Denver vs. Dallas

3 PM - Houston vs. Phoenix

5 PM - Detroit vs. LA Lakers

7 PM - Golden State vs. New Orleans

Saturday July 10  

COX Pavilion

1 PM - Toronto vs. Phoenix

3 PM - LA Lakers vs. Denver

5 PM - Detroit vs. Golden State

7 PM - Dallas vs. Houston

Sunday July 11

COX Pavilion

1 PM - New York vs. Denver

3 PM - Portland vs. Houston

5 PM - Washington vs. Golden State

7 PM - Miami vs. New Orleans

Monday July 12

COX Pavilion

1 PM - LA Lakers vs. New York

3 PM - Sacramento vs. Detroit

5 PM - Dallas vs. Milwaukee

7 PM - Washington vs. LA Clippers

Thomas & Mack

3:30 PM - San Antonio vs. Minnesota

5:30 PM - Phoenix vs. NBA D-League

7:30 PM - Memphis vs. Atlanta

Tuesday July 13

COX Pavilion

1 PM - Denver vs. Chicago

3 PM - Cleveland vs. NBA D-League

5 PM - Milwaukee vs. Memphis

7 PM - Portland vs. New Orleans

Thomas & Mack

3:30 PM - Houston vs. Toronto

5:30 PM - Sacramento vs. LA Lakers

7:30 PM - Golden State vs. Miami

Wednesday July 14

COX Pavilion

1 PM - Denver vs. Houston

3 PM - New York vs. Toronto

5 PM - LA Clippers vs. Chicago

7 PM - Sacramento vs. Minnesota

Thomas & Mack

3:30 PM - Atlanta vs. San Antonio

5:30 PM - Cleveland vs. Phoenix

7:30 PM - Detroit vs. Miami

 

Thursday July 15

COX Pavilion

1 PM - LA Lakers vs. San Antonio

3 PM - Golden State vs. Phoenix

5 PM - Washington vs. Dallas

7 PM - LA Clippers vs. Portland

Thomas & Mack

5:30 PM - Atlanta vs. Milwaukee

7:30 PM - NBA D-League vs. Memphis

Friday July 16

COX Pavilion

1 PM - Detroit vs. New York

3 PM - Toronto vs. Sacramento

5 PM - Washington vs. New Orleans

7 PM - Memphis vs. Minnesota

Thomas & Mack

5:30 PM - Cleveland vs. Chicago

7:30 PM - Milwaukee vs. Miami

Saturday July 17

COX Pavilion

1 PM - New York vs. Washington

3 PM - Miami vs. Cleveland

5 PM - LA Clippers vs. San Antonio

7 PM - Minnesota vs. Portland

 

Thomas & Mack

3:30 PM - Toronto vs. New Orleans

5:30 PM - Sacramento vs. Chicago

7:30 PM - NBA D-League vs. Atlanta

Sunday July 18

COX Pavilion

1 PM - Cleveland vs. Milwaukee

3 PM - Chicago vs. Portland

5 PM - Dallas vs. Sacramento

Thomas & Mack

1:30 PM - San Antonio vs. Memphis

3:30 PM - Atlanta vs. Minnesota

5:30 PM - LA Clippers vs. NBA D-League

 

SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

All Times listed are local Las Vegas time.



PHOENIX — For years Phoenix Suns power forward and free-agent to be Amare Stoudemire has yearned to be mentioned with the LeBrons and Wades of the NBA. The ’superstar status’ is and...

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