The Steve Kerr Moron Meter was introduced to chronicle the up's and down's of Steve Kerr's decisions throughout the season. It was named in such an obviously insulting way to tease Steve Kerr's famous quote from immediately after the Shaq trade.
"If it works, I'm a genius," Kerr said. "If it doesn't, I'm a moron, I guess."
It was fun while it lasted, but picking over the bones of the Suns 2008/09 season has lost any and all appeal. Next to the "what if game" only the "blame game" is more prevalent with sports fans. It's a healthy reaction to look back and discuss what went wrong. It is not possible to consider the future without understanding the past. But when it comes to this past season and specifically Steve Kerr's role, it is time for me to put it all in the rear view and move on.
But not before one final reckoning...
Oh, Steve. We can see on your face how much this situation pained you. You clearly believed in Terry as a person and you wanted him to be the man to come in and make some adjustments to a Suns team that everyone felt was oh so close to reaching the promised land.
A bit of defensive focus. More bench and player development to save the aging vets for the post season. Accountability of a certain young super star.
You never intended for Terry to come in an totally remake the Suns in the Spurs image and we still don't really know what went wrong.
We've heard from the players. Nash didn't like going through the post and taking the ball out of his hands. Amare wanted a friend, not a
coach boss authoritarian oppressor who refused to let Amare be Amare. Bell complained because he wasn't given the opportunity to display his blazing open court speed and above the rim finishing capabilities. No, no. That wasn't it. Can someone tell me why Bell complained again? I can't seem to recall his having an actual reason.
In the end though it doesn't matter. You Steve Kerr, General Manager of the Phoenix Suns, hired Terry Porter and you fired Terry Porter and that situation is widely regarded as the catalyst to the carnage that was the 2008/09 season.
Four Moron Points. One for hiring Terry. One for not finding a way to make it work. And one for firing Terry in what was a PR disaster with rumors being vehemently denied only days before the inevitable axe fell. One more for hiring Porter.
One Genius Point however, for making what had to be a very tough call to pull the plug on Porter. A lesser man would have refused to admit his mistake and if there's one thing we will always admire it's having the balls to be a stand up guy.
I came into this season still bitter over the trade that sent the lovable, troublesome and always hustling Shawn Marion to Miami for Shaq and his huge contract. I fully expected to have my hate for him and the trade grow and yet through his consistent effort and incredibly revitalized play I became a convert. Not for the trade, that was still a net mistake but of Shaq and his effort, leadership and refusal to engage in the bitter blame game that sullied some of his team mates.
Was Shaq silent? Ha!
He called for the ball and he called for better defense. He knew early in the season when the Suns were blowing games they needed to win that there would be a price to pay. And when he was almost traded at the deadline he was angry but he took it out on the court coming back from the break with vengence putting up one of the best weeks of Shaqsekball that we've seen in decades. Eons even.
He was a force on the glass, a high percentage option in the post, a locker room leader and yet he was still the giant bolder dropped into the Suns' pond who's ripples will never recede.
Steve Kerr can't take the credit for Shaq's level of play any more then he can take the blame for Amare's eye.
In the end though, despite his resurgence, Shaq's time in this league is past. It is a mobile big man's game now in a league dominated by penetrating speedy guards.
Kerr is responsible for assembling the combination of a below average defensive point guard, a defensively challenged power forward and a big man who's mind is in the right place but who's 330 lbs are simply to big to trap and recover in the pick and roll dominated game.
Two Moron Points for Kerr for putting this group together.
Two Genius Points for Kerr for all the great work Shaq did.
A cop-out you say? Absolutely.
Trade with Charlotte
The first sentence I wrote about this trade was this:
I don't like this trade. Fans are supposed to freak out and play the trade machine. Not General Managers and that's exactly what this feels like.
A trade by the way who's news broke first on Twitter for those who are keeping score of such things.
This was a complicated deal in retrospect involving five players. Let's rate each:
Raja Bell gone. Raja had become the vocal leader in the anti-Porter locker room and had lost both a step and a sizable shoulder chip on the defensive end. He was not only unhappy and loud about it, he was letting it impact his play. He had to go.
Genius Point for Kerr for moving Bell
Boris Diaw gone. Boris is a very good NBA player and unique talent. I was concerned at the time about the loss of a big man and specifically pondered what would happen if Amare should go down. He did. Boris was severely missed. Still, the rationale for trading Boris was that you didn't want to spend so much money on a talented player who was being under utilized and I get that.
No Points for Kerr.
Sean Singletary gone. Sean was a feisty little player and had some moments but in the end I stand by my opinion that he's not an NBA level player. The Suns acquired him in a deal for DJ Strawberry, a late 2nd round pick. They traded him for another 2nd round pick. It's a wash and we've already spent to much time on this part of the deal.
No Points for Kerr.
Jason Richardson in. JRich not only didn't live up to his billing as a character guy and team leader, he struggled mightily to adapt his #1 option scoring game to a 3rd or 4th option role. His defensive decision making was poor and his man D wasn't much better. JRich, at $14m per year is a drain on the team and needs to be replaced with cap space and a cheap young, athletic SG that can play defense. Adding him to the already defensively challenged group of Amare, Shaq and Nash was a mistake waiting to happen. It happened.
2 Moron Points for Kerr. One for each arrest.
Jared Dudley in. JD has proven to be the brightest spot in the entire transaction. He's extremely intelligent on the floor and plays the role of role player to perfection. He's a guy every team loves to have and his offense is even better then expected. He's the kind of player fans can really get behind and while he will never be (or really shouldn't be) a starter on a playoff team, he's clearly what Steve Kerr said he would be:
"Jack-of-all-trades type player," Kerr said. "He can guard three different positions. Youthful. Energetic. We feel like we're getting an impact player and somebody who's going to impact our future."
Genius Point for Kerr
Free Agents Hill, Barnes, Lou
The primary job of the General Manager is to fill the roster with good players. When you can do that in a way that doesn't cost a lot of money then you are a hero.
There's no doubt that Kerr's three free agent signings of the season were fantastic. Hill was simply amazing and voted by our readers as the team MVP. At $2m per year he has to be one of the highest production/value players in the league not on a rookie contract.
Barnes struggled and became by the end of the season a goat for many fans. His shot selection was horrible despite ending the season with a respectable 38% from three. He was a guy who was wildly inconsistent in all aspects of the game but at $800k was a solid signing for the role he played. Asking him to start a lot of games as a power forward was doomed to fail. That wasn't his fault.
Lou Amundson turned out to be another stroke of Genius. Lou was a guy that bounced around the D-league and got some looks by a few teams at this level but until coming to Phoenix and getting a real opportunity was just some guy with a pony tail.
Now, he's that pony tail guy with a bike and half an eye brow. And a reputation for doing all the dirty work on the glass, playing with incredible energy and toughness, getting under the skin of opposing hot heads and using his hops to finish above the rim. This summer will be huge for Lou. If he can develop some sort of outside game and increase his FT% from pitiful to decent then he will have a chance to be a really important player for the Suns. No one can argue with this signing.
Three good signings. Three Genius Points
Draft Picks Lopez and Dragic
The jury is still out on Robin Lopez. At 15, he wasn't a bad choice and for the most part we all were ok with the pick at the time. Clearly, some guys picked later had better seasons. Speights and McGee come to mind and of course Mario Chalmers and George Hill might have been nice but you really can't judge a pick by guys taken later. That standard is impossible to meet. We are talking about draft picks. It's a always a bit of a gamble.
The question really is about Robin and what kind of player he will be. I've said before, I am on the fence. After seeing him in Vegas and early in the season I was very high on him based on his motor and physical abilities. He's still got those things and patience with big men is required. I have questions about his desire and heart to become the kind of player who can impact the game like a Tyson Chandler...or Brook Lopez. It is in him if he wants it. He has a lot of upside left.
Dragic looked to be a complete disaster for much of the season but finished strong. For a 2nd round pick with an unusually large contract he's still an unknown as well but I am leaning strongly for him to be a solid backup PG
I like his attitude and work ethic and his physical skills are solid. When you look around the playoffs there are many teams without a decent backup PG. The Suns might finally have found there's. We will know next year.
Half Genius Point each for Lopez and Dragic.
46 - 36. 9th seed. Lottery Team
Say what you want about being a 5th seed in the east or the various injuries, the bottom line is the bottom line. The Suns missed the playoffs not because of injury or adversity but because this team was simply unable to rise up in the big games and deliver.
Nash had it right. This team did not deserve to be in the playoffs.
5 Moron Points for Kerr because the buck stops there.
That's a total of 13 Moron Points and 9 Genius Points for this final iteration of the Steve Kerr Moron Meter. Let's hope we can move on and by July be focused on the draft, the trades, and free agent signing and the summer league.
Until then, enjoy the playoffs. There's some damn good games out there if you can get past the color of the jerseys and simply enjoy this sport being played at an incredibly high level.