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Terry Porter Leading Candidate for Suns Head Coach

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[Note by Phoenix Stan, 05/16/08 1:36 PM PDT ]

Phoenix radio is now reporting that Jackson is a LONG shot candidate but another very serious candidate is a guy named Elston Turner. If you knew that name before you heard it in context of this job you have way too much time on your hands (or happened to live next to Mr. Turner at some point in your life).

His wikipedia entry is about three sentences which pretty much sums up my reaction to this name....who???

Elston Howard Turner (born June 10, 1959 in Knoxville, Tennessee) is an American former professional basketball player who was selected in the 2nd round (43rd overall) of the 1981 NBA Draft. A 6'5" guard-forward the University of Mississippi, Turner played in 8 NBA seasons from 19811989. He played for the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls.

In his NBA career, Turner played in 505 games and scored a total of 2,397 points.

Turner was a former assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings and is now an assistant coach for the Houston Rockets under Rick Adelman.

 

 

Suns flagship radio station host Gambo who typically has very good sources within the Suns is reporting that Terry Porter was interviewed yesterday in Detroit and that he's the leading candidate.

Here's a look at his coaching resume :

On August 6, 2003, the Milwaukee native was hired as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. He was the eighth head coach in franchise history. Porter spent the 2002-03 season as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings, his first season in coaching. He coached the Bucks for two years, leading a team which was expected to wind up in the NBA draft lottery into the playoffs. However, the Bucks failed to make the playoffs the next season, and Porter was let go in the 2005 offseason.

Porter is an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons since the 2006-2007 NBA Season.

 

 

I solicited some feedback on Terry Porter from Frank at sister SBN site Brew Hoop . Here's what he had to say:

I would assume it's only a matter of time before he gets another shot somewhere--he did a pretty respectable job in Milwaukee, but wound up getting something of a raw deal after his second season here.  Still, he didn't have a rep for being a great X's and O's guy and that became more of a topic of conversation when he couldn't duplicate the success of his first season.  He's certainly not the most proven coach out there, but keep in mind he had only season as an assistant in Sacramento before he got the Bucks' job, so he's hopefully learned a bit working in Detroit the past couple seasons.  I can't really comment on his role with the Pistons, but I have to imagine working with Flip Saunders and a great organization like that would only help.

In the aftermath of the George Karl/Big Three era, no one expected the 03/04 Bucks to do anything, but Porter got them to 41 wins and a playoff visit, surprising everyone and making him a pretty popular guy in Milwaukee. They ranked fourth in offensive efficiency and ninth in pace, so that might be something that would appeal to Steve Kerr if he's hoping to keep some stylistic consistency in Phoenix (Detroit obviously is a different story).  The Bucks got great point guard play from T.J. Ford before he went down with his spinal injury that season, and after that Damon Jones did surprisingly well the rest of the way.  The next season Ford was still out and Mo Williams did alright filling in, but they just couldn't click the way the previous year's team did.  They also dumped Keith Van Horn and Mike James at the trade deadline to open cap room, which didn't help Porter's cause either.

After the season Larry Harris (in)famously said he and Porter would "sink or swim together," but a month later Herb Kohl apparently changed his mind when he thought he could get Flip Saunders or Doug Collins.  So the Bucks canned Porter...and then replaced him with Terry Stotts when their preferred options fell through.  Needless to say, most people look back on it now and wish Porter had been given one more season. 

I'm not sure he's ever going to be a great coach, but he has at least had some success coaching in the NBA. I don't think we've seen nearly enough of him to know either way. He's also played for Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich, Rick Adelman, Jack Ramsay and Flip Saunders, and certainly his playing career would have suggested he could one day be head coaching material.

Thanks to Frank for providing this insight!

[Note by Phoenix Stan, 05/16/08 8:43 AM PDT ]

I also reached out to the fan-fabulous folks at Blazer's Edge to get their input on the possibility of long-time Portland favorite coaching your Phoenix Suns.

Thanks Ben for the input!

Well, I won't speak to his time in Milwaukee, but I can tell you that Terry Porter is universally loved in Portland.  So much so that about 3 weeks ago we started an "Honor Terry Porter" campaign this summer in an effort to get the Blazers to retire his jersey.  I've received dozens of emails to this point from fans that point to TP's court awareness, basketball IQ, rock-solid consistency and sportsmanlike approach to the game (among other qualities)-- all attributes that make him a great assistant coach and would serve him well in a head coaching capacity.
 
I think there are some parallels between the early 1990s Blazers and your Suns-- people forget this for various reasons (TP's time in Detroit among them), but the Drexler/Porter Blazers played a high octane brand of hoops.  For that reason I think Porter would co-exist well with Nash, as he would have an intimate understanding of what Nash sees on the floor.  Also, I think Terry would be great at developing Barbosa-- Terry came from relative obscurity to become captain of the Blazers quite early in his career.  Certainly there are lessons to pass on to LB from that experience.  It should also be noted that TP pushed and pushed on the chronically underachieving, overweight Kevin Duckworth-- helping involve Duck into the Blazers' offense to the point that he made the all star team twice.  Not that I'm comparing next season's Shaquille O'Neal to Kevin Duckworth but.... 

Let's put it this way: Phoenix could do a lot worse than Terry.  In my Portland-Homer opinion, a second chance at a head coaching job has been long overdue for TP and it would be both a treat and a terror for Portland fans to have him at the helm of your Suns.
 
Here's the original "Honor Terry Porter" post (with graphics) if you are interested: http://www.blazersedge.com/2008/4/22/447583/honor-terry-porter