We've come to expect subtle GM-speak from Steve Kerr. He is after all a guy who left a position in the media to take this job. That makes his comments today all the more striking as he leaves little doubt that he intends to extend Steve Nash's contract and conversely doesn't see Shaq and/or Amare as being part of the future.
Kerr was perfectly clear about his plans for the aging point guard when asked about his being part of the solution moving forward saying,
"Absolutely. Steve is the face of the franchise. He's one of the top point guards in the league still and one of the greatest of all time...I want him to end his career here."
Kerr sees Dragic being able to play 18 minutes per game which would reduce Nash to about 30 minutes. "That's the goal and that's the plan and hopefully we can do that in the next few years."
Kerr also repeated what he's said recently that he hopes Gentry will be the head coach and it sounds like they intend to address that pretty quickly after the season ends.
As for Shaq and Amare, Kerr was a bit more circumspect.
Kerr on where the Suns stand now
"I don't know that this team as currently constituted can be a championship team. I don't think so actually. We are not good enough in certain areas."
Steve talked first about the improvement on the bench but then went on to say that the pick and roll defense was a problem all year long, "So we've got to continue to address personnel issues there."
Personnel issues related to the pick and roll defense. Well, that can mean a few different things but fortunately Kerr was very clear what he meant.
"One of the things you have to do in this league is you have to have active big guys. There's a reason Boston was so good defensively...Those guys jump out on pick and rolls, they trap, they recover and protect the rim. That's why we drafted Robin and that's why we signed Lou. We're trying to get more mobile on the interior. We have to develop those guys and we have to continue to address the personnel issues." (emphasis added)
To me that means Amare and Shaq. Two big men that don't defend the pick and roll which Kerr sees as being a major weakness of the Suns. Kerr went down this path and I believe he's sending a message about what he intends to do this off-season.
Unfortunately, there wasn't time to ask more specific questions before the interview time was cut short by Suns PR master Jule Fie who's "bat phone" insisted that Kerr had other places to be.
Here's a bonus discussion I had with Goran Dragic. None of the other media types were interested in hearing from him, but I love talking to these young guys. I find their stories far more fascinating then the guys we've watched and heard from for some many seasons.
I asked Dragic a pretty tough question about the Suns season from his perspective and gave him a chance to frankly say something a bit controversial. He did a good job with the question even if he didn't give me much.
I also asked him about his reaction to the fans (and bloggers) who didn't believe in him. He responded with an understanding of how poorly he played early in the season and was thankful to those that did support him. He didn't take the opportunity I gave him to shoot a big Slovenian middle finger to the haters.