Not that this any of my business… after all everybody knows that I am a long standing member of the Lakers organization. But I have to stick up for Terry Porter since he was fired by Western Conference foe Phoenix Suns on Monday.
It’s not that I am crazy about Porter as a coach. I don’t know one way or the other if he is a good one or not. I do know that he was hired to do a job and was not able to see that job through.
The Suns in recent years have been a 50 plus win team consistently. Under coach Mike D’Antoni, they ran up the score and ran teams out of the building on the regular. The team was not successful in the playoffs however, though they did make it to the conference finals before falling to the Spurs who would go on to win the championship.
The team hired former NBA player Steve Kerr to the GM’s position to make the personnel changes that would take the team over the top. Kerr eventually got rid of three core players, Boris Diaw, Sean Marion, and Raja Bell. They brought in guys like Shaquille O’Neal, and Grant Hill. They also strung D’Antoni along at the end of the year not saying whether they wanted him to continue to coach until he finally signed on to coach the Knicks. Kerr and D’Antoni didn’t see eye to eye as the new GM wanted to slow the offense down and route everything around the aging Shaq.
They bring in Porter t0 coach these players in Kerr’s vision of slow defensive mode. This becomes problematic because for one the team was used to running. Not to mention their point guard is Steve Nash, a two time MVP who can’t check me if I was playing. Nash, one of the best point guards in recent history has all of his strengths on the offensive side with a dead on jump shot and an array of passes that bolstered the stats of guys like Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire got a lot of easy dunks and looked like a superstar with Nash, which got him paid. Porter changed the system and slowed things down as he was told.
Still the “experiment” has not been an early success as the Suns are a lowly 28-23 at the All Star Break 13.5 games behind the Lakers. It’s tough for a team to adjust that fast to a new system and a new group of core players. The Western Conference is also a great conference with the Lakers and Spurs being the cream of the crop. The Suns obviously got anxious with the slow start. So they make even more changes. And who get’s the ax? Porter.
Porter? Let me get this straight; It was Kerr who moved D’Antoni. It was Kerr who moved Marion, Diaw, and Bell. It was Kerr who brought in O’Neal who is playing quite well but has not played on the tail end of back to back games in order to rest The Big Cactus. It was Kerr who hired Porter and has only given him half a season to work with this roster – It’s Kerr who is in the midst of shopping around the Suns’ biggest ticket item Stoudemire. Kerr has dismantled the whole foundation of the organization and barely gave the changes a chance to work before he offs Porter and names Alvin Gentry as interim coach. And what is coach Gentry’s direction for the team? To run the ball and play at the old fast pace. What? You mean the same thing D’Antoni did when he was coach and had the players to do just that.
Steve Kerr, a very good NBA player and one of the best clutch shooters ever created this mess… and yet other guys are being shown their walking papers in the midst of the debacle. From what I see, this is another example of good/great players who are not good executives. Everybody can’t be a Jerry West or a Chris Mullin who put together a pretty decent squad in Golden State. Some guys are like Michael Jordan and Isaiah Thomas instead. They become organization killers! They make choices and the choices fail, then they blame the very people they chose in the first place for failing.
Terry got a raw deal. But hey, that’s their business. My team is doing just fine.