[Note by Phoenix Stan, 01/26/09 7:34 AM PST ]
Ed note - I don't agree with most of this but this is a democratic style discussion of Suns basketball. Well presented ideas such as this will always be welcome and promoted.
Steve Kerr was always known for his excellent 3-point shooting and his part on 5 NBA Championships with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. But now he holds the title of General Manager for the Phoenix Suns, and this job is one that he has had a little more trouble succeeding at.
The Suns hired Steve Kerr as their General Manager just before the 2007-2008 NBA season. Kerr was talking control of a Suns team that in the previous 3 seasons supplanted themselves as the most explosive offensive team in the NBA and a championship contender. Phoenix went a combined 177-69 in the 3 previous regular seasons, while being ousted from the playoffs in the Western Conference Finals twice and losing in the Western Conference Semi Finals in the other, in a rather controversial series.
Kerr wasn’t shy about making bold moves, as he was quick to sign former superstar Grant Hill and trade key role player Kurt Thomas before his first season in charge. Then in his most shocking transaction midway through the season, Kerr traded 4- time all star and a major piece of the Suns franchise Shawn Marion for the old; past his prime superstar Shaquille O’Neal. This was one of the most shocking trades in NBA recent history, as it made no sense for an already potent Phoenix Suns squad. After this transaction the Suns team went downhill losing all its momentum and flow, as Shaq wasn’t a great fit to coach D’Antoni’s system. The Suns were easily ousted from the playoffs in the first round and this was the last series for Mike D’Antoni as Phoenix’s head coach. Kerr then went on to hire Terry Porter as the Head Coach for the current season. He continued his transformation of the squad by trading away defensive force Raja Bell and key versatile substitute Boris Diaw for Jason Richardson.
Look where the Steve Kerr era has led to in Phoenix this year. The Suns currently sit at 9th place in the Western Conference, outside the 8-playoff spots. And their previous three games have shown the low at which Phoenix has hit with losses in Boston, New York, and Charlotte. In Boston they trailed by 30 at halftime. In New York, they lost to a rebuilding Knicks squad and former head coach Mike D’Antoni. In Charlotte, they lost to the Bobcats for the first time in franchise history and on top of that it was in blowout fashion. The Suns are clearly far from being a contender and rumors have started already about trading Amare Stoudamire and how team leader Steve Nash will be gone as soon as his contract expires, if not sooner. You know something is wrong when an over the hill; past his prime big man like Shaquille O’Neal has become your teams first option, and that what it has come to in Phoenix.
So the question arises, was this really a time for a rebuilding process? The Suns had a very talented roster and the pieces in place to continue their success and finally breakthrough the ceiling that has held them out of the NBA Finals, but this opportunity was shredded apart by moves made by Kerr. Phoenix had 2- time MVP Steve Nash still playing some of his best basketball despite his getting up there in age, but instead of taking advantage of Nash’s final years, Kerr starts the rebuilding process? Confusing to say the least as a contender was ripped right from the hands of the city of Phoenix.
Some may argue that a team like the Suns could never win a NBA title because of their lack of defense, but I beg to differ. Phoenix proved that it could compete and beat any team in the NBA as they played some impressive basketball in the 3-year run pre Steve Kerr. 2 of their 3 eliminations came at the hand of the team that went on to win the NBA Title, both times being the San Antonio Spurs. It can be argued that the controversial suspensions in one of those series’ was what held Phoenix back from finally breaking through to win the title. In 2 of the 3 years the Suns eliminated the best player in the NBA; Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in style. These Suns’ teams were some of the best we have seen in this decade, but the lack of luck and time has seen this nice run by the Phoenix franchise end due to the premature actions of the front office, and it’s a shame.
So that once unstoppable offensive force that provided the spectators with constant entertainment and a championship contender is now gone. The team that once could never be counted out of a game at any point because of its ability to score points at an alarming rate is well behind us. The team that could always be counted on for a blowout, is now the team getting the beatings. They say the Phoenix bird is known to resurrect after death, well I hope it’s prepared because we have seen the death of a Championship contender, as the Sun has set for the Suns.