The door is shut for the Phoenix Suns. And there’s two people to blame: Steve Kerr and owner Robert Sarver. Kerr for trading for Shaq and forcing Mike D’Antoni out the door and Sarver for being extremely cheap and illogical. While I was watching the NBA draft, ESPN had all these interesting draft notes for each team on the right of the screen and one team’s ineptitude stood out to me. Andshockingly, it wasn’t the Clippers! They showed all the players the Suns drafted in the past five years: Luol Deng, Nate Robinson, Rajon Rondo, Sergio Rodriguez, Alando Tucker, Rudy Fernandez, and Robin Lopez. The only two they kept were Tucker andLopez. Call me crazy, but those other five players could have been assets for the Suns teams that were fighting for a championship.
I’vealways thought that if you’re in sports to make money on a yearly basis, you’re in the wrong business. Sports is an equity buy. You make your windfall when you sell the team. If you can come close to breaking even during a fiscal year, it’s all gravy. Plus this isn’t the NFL where there are huge signing bonuses for first round picks. Those salaries are slotted and are assets for a team. Sarver wanted the cash that came with selling the picks, but the truth is if his team won a championship, he would have recouped that money anyway.
While both Kerr and Sarver have a hand in not letting this Suns’ ride run its course, I do blame Sarver more for this. Kerr does have his hands tied on many occasions, but I do hold him culpable for the Shaq trade and Terry Porter hiring. Now, it looks very likely that the Suns will trade Amare Stoudemire next. They’ve mentioned signing Steve Nash to an extension,but I think Nash would be nuts to stick around for this rebuilding effort.
Kerr, media friendly as always, joined XTRA Sports 910 in Phoenix to discuss the draft, the Shaq trade, a potential Stoudemire trade and the future of the franchise. I do empathize with his situation a bit, but completely disagree with him in saying the Suns were in decline.
On Earl Clark:
“He’s a very versatile player. The guy that I compared him to last night was Cliff Robinson who used to play for the Suns. Very versatile, 6’10 forward who can kind of swing over andplay some 3. He guard some perimeter players but also guard the post. I envision him kind of fronting, posting player where he’s using his quickness and his length to bother people more than his girth when guarding people. What’s really appealing is just the versatility. I think he can switch off to a guard or chase some of these big forward like Rashard or Turkoglu or Nowitzki. He’s physically capable of guarding guys like that. Whether he can do that or not is up to him and us in terms of his development but he has plenty of potential. He can shoot the ball, he can put it on the floor. He’s got a really nice game but he’s a ways away and we’ve got to work with him.”
On the rumors of trading Amare to Golden State:
“Has there been talk? Yes, of course there’s been talk and I mentioned last night that we’ve had conversations with 5 or 6 teams about plenty of deals. This one has been discussed. Beyond that, that’s about all I can say. I don’t normally comment on any details of trades and nor will I now but I will you yes, it has been discussed and it’s something that both teams will consider and we’ll see if it has legs.”
Your vision for this team moving forward in a perfect world:
“To start with, you want a lot of assets, a lot of movable pieces…smaller contracts that you can compile and trade. From a personal standpoint, I really believe that defense at the highest level is what wins championship. You gotta have superstars to do that, but you also have to have a team concept defensively.”
“We’re going to try to build our young talent base and get to the point where we have enough flexibility to make a big move, to bring in a guy who may be the guy to take you over the top. It’s a process, it doesn’t happen overnight. The difficulty for me in my position in the last couple of years is we weren’t starting from the bottom, we weren’t starting from the top, but we were already in decline. I just don’t know if people really realized it or not.”
Do you think you got enough in the Shaq deal:
“In the end, these days in the NBA, if you have the financial advantage in a deal, you’re going to get what you want. Cleveland had the financial advantage because they were willing to take on the extra money and we were in a position if we were going to make the deal to create the cap flexibility that we desperately need, we had to basically accept the 2nd round pick instead of the first (round pick). Look, for what we got and where we’re heading I think that’s a small price to pay.”
On the challenges of the economy:
“First of all, you got to understand that most NBA franchises are in exactly same position. You just have to tighten the belt and you probably can’t go over the tax too much. If the economy had been where it is now 2 years ago, we never would have made the Shaq trade. We’re just dealing with the rules and the guidelines that most teams are in the league. That’s just the job and that’s ok, that’s fine. That’s why we made this particular Shaq trade a couple of days ago, to get the financial flexibility, heading in that direction. At the end of the season for the first team, we’re going to be well under the cap and we’re going to have some opportunity to make some basketball decisions and I think that’s what I’ve been looking forward to the most, to make a basketball choice rather than a financial one.”