Posted on: September 30, 2011 8:56 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 12:31 pm
NEW YORK -- Flanked by some of the biggest stars in the game, players' association president Derek Fisher stood in a ballroom at a Park Avenue hotel Friday and declared that the willingness to reach a new collective bargaining agreement is there on both sides.
Next will have to come the movement, the tipping point that pushes the negotiations to the point of compromise. And that point did not come Friday, when stars like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen got to see for themselves what the owners are asking of them as they seek a system that gives all 30 teams an opportunity to compete and be profitable.
After some initial ugliness -- a person familiar with what happened in the negotiating room told CBSSports.com that some players were initially infuriated by how little the owners' stance has changed -- the bargaining session took on a tone of cooperation that signaled to some players that a deal was within reach.
UPDATE: But not before it appeared that Friday's bargaining session would be short-lived, and that there wouldn't be any more talking this weekend.
According to a person familiar with the negotiations, the owners and players met initially at about 2 p.m. ET and broke up to discuss the situation privately among themselves. The players, furious at seeing first hand the owners' offer of 46 percent of basketball-related income (BRI) -- down from their previous level of 57 percent -- were unanimous about what to do.
"Let's go," one of the players said, according to a source. "There's no reason to go back in there."
The players decided to return to the bargaining room with a much smaller group. Among those joining Fisher for the second session were James, Wade, Anthony, Kevin Durant, Baron Davis and committee member Chris Paul. None of the players joining Fisher sat down during this portion of the talks, a person with knowledge of the meetings said.
It was at this point that Wade took exception to commissioner David Stern's tone and gesturing -- the commissioner evidently was pointing his finger while speaking to the players -- and "stood up for himself," a person with knowledge of the meeting said. According to two people familiar with the incident, Wade warned Stern not to point his finger and made reference to not being a child.
Several versions of the quote were reported. According to a witness, Wade's tone was not threatening. But the upshot was clear: This was a potentially galvanizing moment for the players, who finally got the kind of star participation -- and leadership -- that they've lacked at key moments in these talks. In Wade, the players have found their Michael Jordan circa 1999, when the Bulls star famously told the late Wizards owner Abe Pollin to sell his team if he couldn't afford to run it.
After the confrontation, union chief Billy Hunter and Stern met privately, seeking a way to calm nerves and preserve the rest of the negotiations. Hunter, according to the person with knowledge of the talks, convinced the players to go back in -- selling them on the idea that the negotiating process had to be respected and telling them that the two sides would switch from the split of basketball-related income (BRI) to system issues.
It was after session that began at 6 p.m. and ran for about an hour that the two sides agreed to return to the bargaining table Saturday. The takeaway for the players, sources said, was the definite impression that the owners want to have a season.
"I don’t think it was a sense of now or never, but I think there was definitely a sense of, 'It’s time to stop throwing ideas around and let’s actually work towards making these ideas happen,'" said the Heat's Udonis Haslem, attending his first bargaining session. "I heard enough to really believe in my heart that both sides will work tirelessly to find a middle ground. I don’t know if that will happen."
Indeed, both sides tamped down expectations that a deal had to be achieved by the end of the weekend to prevent cancellation of some -- and perhaps all -- regular season games. Deputy commissioner Adam Silver said, "There are a lot of issues on the table," and questioned whether a deal could be consummated by Sunday strictly from the standpoint of "the number of hours in the day."
The rhetoric about the entire season being in jeopardy if a deal wasn't reached this weekend was "ludicrous," Stern said Friday -- just two days after pointing out that there would be "enormous consequences" from a lack of progress and that they "won't be a question of just starting the season on time."
The two sides will meet again Saturday morning with nearly the full committee of owners and multiple players on hand in addition to the NBPA's executive committee.
Joining the big stars with Fisher, Hunter, and several committee members in the union's post-meeting news conference were Davis, Elton Brand, Ben Gordon, Andre Iguodala, and others as Fisher challenged those who've questioned the involvement of the game's biggest names in the bargaining process.
"Some of our guys have been questioned in terms of their commitment to this process, to the players' association and to the game," Fisher said. "Their presence here today, we all know for picture’s sake says a lot. These guys have always been with us."
James, Wade and Anthony abruptly left the news conference without speaking with reporters, climbing together into an idling SUV waiting for them outside the hotel.
But their presence, without question, was felt in the bargaining room. According to two people involved in the talks, several owners who typically are the most boistrous in the meetings -- including Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and Suns owner Robert Sarver -- were noticably subdued. "Much tamer," said one of the sources. "They know it's time."
The owners were represented by nine of their 11 committee members, with Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban absent. Heat owner Micky Arison, facing the potential destruction of his Big Three (two of them being in the room), was the only owner not on the committee who attended.
The only progress described by anyone Friday (other than the fact that they'll meet again Saturday) was the state of the owners' revenue sharing plans. Stern revealed for the first time that the league is prepared to triple the current revenue sharing pool in the first two years and quadruple it starting in the third year.
But even that issue is clouded in big-market, small-market politics and the issue of when the high-revenue teams will begin to substantially increase their sharing. According to two people familiar with the owners' revenue sharing plans, the Lakers and Knicks would be called upon to pay the lion's share -- with the Lakers paying roughly $50 million and the Knicks $30 million -- into the new pool. But some big-market teams are increasingly reluctant to share their growing local TV revenues; the Lakers, for example, recently signed a 20-year, $3 billion deal with Time Warner that dwarfs some teams' total revenue.
Stern said Friday the players "know precisely" what the owners' revenue sharing plan will look like.
"They know as much as we know," Stern said. "We’ve told them about generally how it’s going to work. We haven't given them a piece of paper, but that will not be the issue that separates us."
So what happens now? After the cleansing process of stars voicing their opinions, threatening to walk out and calling out Stern in front of his owners, the time comes now for smaller groups, cooler heads and compromise. It is the only thing we know at this point about these talks: Both sides want a deal. Both sides want to play.
Both sides have room to move on the economics, too. The owners will quickly lose their appetite for certain non-negotiable system changes once they realize that addressing their losses is within reach. And the players will prove to be willing to negotiate on certain key system points -- such as a modest reduction in the mid-level exception and a more punitive tax system -- once they get the anticipated economic move from the owners.
The owners having witnessed the star players' resolve, and the players having witnessed the owners' willingness to make a deal, won't hurt. Because there will have to be a deal eventually, so why not soon? Why not now? Because, as one source offered, it would be "crazy not to."
And he might as well have been speaking for both sides.
Tags: Adam Silver, Andre Iguodala, Baron Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chris Paul, Dan GIlbert, David Stern, Dwyane Wade, Elton Brand, Heat, Hornets, Kevin Durant, Knicks, LeBron James, lockout, National Basketball Players Association, NBPA, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Robert Sarver, Sixers, Suns, Thunder
Posted on: November 17, 2010 1:14 pm
Their three-game winning streak and 22-gun salute from the 3-point line against the Lakers notwithstanding, these are delicate times for the Phoenix Suns. So delicate, in fact, that a speculative riff on an NBA writer’s podcast last week sparked a flurry of trade rumors surrounding Steve Nash.
Such is life in the NBA blogosmear, but there’s an element of truth to the speculation. Watching Nash play without Amar’e Stoudemire, and Stoudemire without Nash, is a classic lesson in being careful what you wish for. The Suns, like many NBA teams, were hesitant to lavish five guaranteed years on Stoudemire given the uninsurable state of his knees. The Knicks, boxed out of the LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sweepstakes, were in the rare position of being open to Stoudemire’s in-person overtures back in July. It was a match made in Desperadoville.
The Knicks were in Denver Tuesday night to face the Nuggets and the latest apple of their eyes, Carmelo Anthony. They arrived in a tailspin, having lost five in a row, and left with a 120-118 loss, a six-game losing streak, and much of the hopelessness inspired by Knicks teams of the past decade. No fewer than 15 power forwards playing at least 25 minutes per game are ahead of Stoudemire in efficiency rating, according to Hoopdata.com. Among them are Michael Beasley, Charlie Villanueva and Hakim Warrick – who replaced Stoudemire in Phoenix. You don’t need data to see that Stoudemire is struggling in his new home. Watching him search in vain for someone who knows how to run a pick-and-roll is evidence enough.
Despite Warrick’s statistical accomplishments, things aren’t much better for Nash and the Suns. Lost in the Suns’ unconscious shooting exploits in a 121-116 victory over the Lakers Sunday night was the ongoing horror show of watching Nash dribble around desperately in search of someone to set a capable screen and roll to the basket. Both Nash and Stoudemire have lost something irreplaceable in each other.
While the Knicks plan to do their due diligence and inquire as to Nash’s availability, the Suns haven’t gotten to the point of entertaining offers, according to an executive familiar with their strategy. Coach Alvin Gentry already has made it clear publicly that the Suns aren’t trading Nash, and the executive familiar with the team’s posture characterized the flurry of rumors as “random” and “not factual.” But in Phoenix, as with many revenue-challenged NBA cities, basketball sense doesn’t always align with financial reality.
Without Stoudemire – and assuming they can’t make 20-plus 3-pointers a night for the rest of the season – the Suns will be struggling to get a whiff of the eighth seed come April. They’re the worst rebounding team in the league in terms of defensive rebounding rate and offensive rebounding differential, and the loss of center Robin Lopez to a sprained knee certainly won’t help.
“We’ve got to be a little bit more scrappy than we’ve been in the past,” said Jared Dudley, a key member of the superior bench that made the Suns such a threat to the Lakers in the conference finals last spring.
But Suns owner Robert Sarver, whose non-basketball businesses in the banking and real estate sectors have been hammered by the recession, isn’t paying $63 million for a scrappy, barely .500 team. The Suns are comfortably below the $70.3 million luxury-tax threshold, so there’s no urgency there. However, Sarver has been one of the most vocal in a new wave of owners in the collective bargaining fight, and rival executives believe he’ll be on a rampage at the trade deadline if the Suns are out of the playoff hunt. That’s an eventuality the Suns hope to prevent, and despite their current upswing, it will prove to be a difficult fight.
“Hopefully we can get a couple of wins in a row so we can get those rumors away,” Dudley said of the Nash speculation. “You don’t want your franchise player to go. He makes everybody better here and he’s the face of Phoenix. If you think the transition is big with Amar’e, I can only imagine. It would be a journey having [Nash] leave.”
Which brings us to the next step in our journey, to the rest of the Post-Ups:
• With Jermaine O’Neal out several weeks with a sore left knee, you and I both know what name comes to mind as a free-agent replacement: Rasheed Wallace. While ‘Sheed’s agent, Bill Strickland, wouldn’t completely rule it out, it doesn’t sound like Wallace is even contemplating the possibility of coming out of retirement – for the Celtics or anybody else. “I have not talked to Danny [Ainge, the Celtics’ president] or Rasheed about that, but I think Rasheed is through,” Strickland said. Wallace, 36, isn’t believed to be working out on the court in any capacity in the event a team might be interested in his services. And while it’s hard to imagine Wallace coming back with the NBA’s tech-happy mandate to the referees, it’s more of a physical issue. As far back as when Wallace was still with the Pistons, he was known to sometimes leave his shoes on between games in order to keep playing. If he’d removed them, his ankles would’ve swelled up so badly that he wouldn’t have been able to get them back on.
• Leave it to the Zen Master to decode the mystery of Utah’s amazing string of double-digit road comebacks last week. Lakers coach Phil Jackson pointed out that Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is perhaps the only NBA coach who elects to have his team play offense in front of his bench in the second half. Most coaches prefer to have their team in front of them on defense down the stretch of road games. Lo and behold, the Jazz reeled off double-digit road comebacks against Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte by pouring on the offense in the second half. Visiting coaches choose which basket to defend in which half. “You can generate a lot of points in front of your bench,” Jackson said. “Defensively, a lot of coaches like their team to be in front of the bench in the second half on the road, because you can call stuff and give eyes to the players with their back to the basket. They’re the only team in the NBA that does it the other way.”
• Brandon Roy’s future with bone-on-bone in both knees bears watching, given that his game is based on getting to the basket and he’s only 26 – with a lot of mileage theoretically ahead of him. But Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and former consultant to the Philadelphia 76ers, said it depends on the extent of the damage and where it is. After his latest bout with knee swelling and pain last week, Roy learned that surgery was not an option because he has no meniscus left in either knee. DiNubile said Roy’s fate will be determined by whether he lacks cartilage, too. “It would be extremely unlikely at that age to have no meniscus and no cartilage,” DiNubile said. Whether the bone-on-bone condition is occurring in the actual knee joint (bad) or under the kneecap (still bad, but better) also is important. If the bone-on-bone situation is where the tibia meets the femur, “You’re kind of doomed,” DiNubile said. “That’s not compatible with up-and-down playing. If he were to have bone-on-bone in the main part of his knee, his career’s going to be limited one way or the other.” If the condition exists in the kneecap, DiNubile said athletes “can do surprisingly well.”
• As more than an innocent bystander in the Carmelo Anthony saga, Nuggets coach George Karl is more than doing his part by using his considerable powers of persuasion to try to keep Melo in Denver. But it’s impossible to evaluate Karl’s efforts on that front without noting his own pursuit of a contract extension. Two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com that the Nuggets view Karl as part of their future, regardless of whether Anthony stays. Whether Karl wants to remain in Denver if he winds up with a rebuilding team post-Anthony – that’s another matter. But despite Karl’s disenchantment with the ouster of his friends Mark Warkentien and Tim Grgurich, the lines of communication between Karl, GM Masai Ujiri, executive Josh Kroenke, and team president Paul Andrews are very much open. And weighing on the matter more than Anthony’s future is Karl’s health. Karl, 59, has several more hurdles to clear in his heroic efforts to beat throat and neck cancer, and wants to be sure he remains cancer-free before asking the Nuggets to commit to him beyond this season. Everyone in the NBA, including the Denver front office, is rooting for him.
• Tayshaun Prince’s repeated blowups, with coach John Kuester giving as good as he’s getting, aren’t expected to play a major role in the Pistons’ decision on whether to trade the swingman and his $11.1 million expiring contract. A person with knowledge of Prince’s thinking told CBSSports.com that his frustration isn’t fully directed at Kuester; losing, after his time as a member of the formerly contending Pistons, is a bigger issue. But the biggest issue in the decision on whether to move him is the impending ownership change in Detroit. Trading an expiring deal, by definition, involves taking on future money – which is difficult, at best, to do when a new owner is entering the picture.
• Kevin Love’s 31-point, 31-rebound game – an incredible performance and the first of its kind since Moses Malone in 1982 – was a quiet victory for Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis. Rambis had been trying to prove a point to Love by limiting his minutes: If you don’t play both ends of the floor, you’re not going to play. Rambis’ message finally got through, and the result was an example of what Love is capable of when he puts his mind to it. But this isn’t the end of the dysfunction in Minnesota, by any stretch. Just because Love performed in an historic way doesn’t mean he’s buying Rambis’ message long-term. And a person familiar with the Wolves’ locker room dynamics isn’t convinced it’s smooth sailing from here. “The team is a disaster,” the person said. Depending on who you ask, the issue is either lack of communication from Rambis, or an unwillingness to listen on the part of Love and others who are disenchanted with minutes. It’s going to take more time to sort it all out.
Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire, Berger's Post-Ups, Brandon Roy, Carmelo Anthony, Celtics, George Karl, Jared Dudley, Jazz, Jermaine O'Neal, Jerry Sloan, John Kuester, Kevin Love, Knicks, Kurt Rambis, Lakers, Nuggets, Phil Jackson, Pistons, Rasheed Wallace, Robert Sarver, Steve Nash, Suns, Tayshaun Prince, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers
Posted on: July 12, 2010 10:01 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2010 11:15 am
Agent Lon Babby is in the running to become president of the Phoenix Suns even as one of his top clients, Hedo Turkoglu, was traded to the team Monday.
But despite concerns among rival team executives about a conflict of interest, Babby disclosed his dealings with Suns owner Robert Sarver to Turkoglu, recused himself from representing the former Raptors forward, and received a written waiver from Turkoglu acknowledging his approval of the circumstances, two people with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com. The meticulous approach is no surprise, given Babby's reputation of being one of the most forthright agents in the business.
Nonetheless, word of Babby's candidacy to succeed Steve Kerr in Phoenix raised "red flags" among rival executives, one of the execs told CBSSports.com. Not only was Turkoglu traded to the Suns Monday, but he also agreed to waive a portion of his $5 million trade kicker and reduce the amount guaranteed in the final year of his contract as part of the deal, sources said.
Two people familiar with Turkoglu's situation told CBSSports.com that Babby's partner at Washington, D.C., law firm Williams & Connolly, Jim Tanner, had assumed the role of representing Turkoglu in view of Babby's candidacy to become the Suns' president. Babby also has long represented Suns forward Grant Hill. Turkoglu also was receiving independent advice from his financial adviser, who approved the contractual changes that facilitated the trade to Phoenix, the people said.
"Hedo was so unhappy in Toronto that he would've waived the trade kicker regardless," a third person with knowledge of the arrangement said.
In view of Babby's full disclosure, the National Basketball Players Association has no plans to challenge the move, a person familiar with the union's stance said.
Turkoglu was traded to the Suns Monday in a three-team deal that also sent Boris Diaw, Tyson Chandler and Leandro Barbosa to Toronto and Jose Calderon to Charlotte.
Posted on: June 15, 2010 6:19 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2010 9:01 pm
LOS ANGELES -- Steve Kerr's stunning announcement Tuesday that he will not return as the Suns' president of basketball operations next season sent shockwaves through the team's No. 1 plan for this summer: retaining Amar'e Stoudemire.
Stoudemire has been open to exploring his options as an unrestricted free agent by opting out of his contract in the event an extension could not be reached with the Suns. But the departure of Kerr, who had been handling the early stages of the negotiation with Stoudemire's agent, Happy Walters, cast a cloud of uncertainty over the process.
A person familiar with Kerr's decision to step down and return to the television booth in Doug Collins' analyst spot with TNT said it unfolded over the past couple of the weeks and left a sour taste on both sides of the Stoudemire negotiation. Kerr's contract was set to expire after the June 24 draft, and it appears to be another episode of penny-pinching by owner Robert Sarver that spurred Kerr's decision to leave the organization only weeks after the Suns made a surprising run to the Western Conference finals. Kerr, according to sources, was asked to take a significant pay cut on his new deal, a slap in the face given the Suns' successful season.
But another person familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com that Kerr's decision also was related to frustration that Sarver had not yet committed to a full-length, maximum-salary contract for Stoudemire. The Suns have made several offers to Stoudemire this summer, but the person familiar with the situation said the parameters of the offers are "not where they need to be." Now, with the departure of Kerr -- who is trusted by both Stoudemire and Walters -- Stoudemire's future in Phoenix is more uncertain than ever.
As the situation unfolded Tuesday, it was not immediately clear whether Kerr's top lieutenant, assistant GM David Griffin, would be promoted to the No. 1 job or the Suns would orchestrate a search for Kerr's replacement.
Kerr's departure was first reported by the Arizona Republic and KTAR in Phoenix, the Suns' flagship radio station.
Several of Kerr's personnel moves fueled the Suns' run to the conference finals, including reversing course on his controversial acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal by trading him to Cleveland; acquiring Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley from Charlotte; and drafting Robin Lopez and Goran Dragic in 2008. All four players played prominent roles in the Suns' return to the Western Conference elite this season.
Stoudemire, who is working out and strategizing with his agent in Miami, will enter the final stages of his renegotiation with serious doubts about the direction of the organization. The Heat, with enough cap space to add a max free agent alongside Dwyane Wade, are among the most likely destinations for Stoudemire if he does not re-sign with Phoenix.
Posted on: February 15, 2010 1:26 am
Edited on: February 15, 2010 2:09 am
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Amar'e Stoudemire said Sunday he'd heard "nothing solid" on his fate with the trade deadline looming, even with the Suns engaged in talks with multiple teams about trading the five-time All-Star.
Asked about the possibility of playing with LeBron James in Cleveland, Stoudemire said it was "great" playing with him on the 2004 Olympic team in Barcelona, but that a trade with Cleveland was "not done yet."
Once again, Stoudemire leaves the All-Star Game wondering if he'll be changing teams the morning after.
"Gotta stick with what I know," Stoudemire said. "Right now, I'm a Phoenix Sun, so until anything changes I'm going to play the same way. ... I'm planning to travel to Memphis (Monday) to play the Grizzlies."
Several league sources told CBSSports.com that the Suns remained in discussions with at least three teams -- Cleveland, Miami and Philadelphia -- in a poker game that features Stoudemire as the grand prize. Two of his would-be teammates were on the court with him in the All-Star Game Sunday night -- James and Dwyane Wade. Another, Shaquille O'Neal, sat courtside and watched.
While the Suns brass were weighing which team could offer them the best combination of cap relief and assets, Suns owner Robert Sarver roamed the rotunda of Cowboys Stadium, watching Stoudemire and other All-Stars walk from the mixed-zone interview area toward the locker rooms.
"It's definitely an important decision," Sarver said. "I don't have any more comment."
Posted on: February 16, 2009 4:04 pm
PHOENIX – The worst-kept secret in the NBA became official Monday afternoon when Suns president Steve Kerr announced he was replacing fired coach Terry Porter with assistant Alvin Gentry.
“I’ve signed a multi-week contract,” Gentry joked, referring to the interim tag his appointment carries with it.
How many more weeks are left on Kerr’s contract, by the way?
With that statement, Gentry unwittingly touched on the state of flux that continues to engulf the organization. Kerr said the coaching change does not preclude any changes to the roster before Thursday’s trade deadline. He’s still taking and placing calls, with the crux of the matter being whether Phoenix finishes the season with the roster intact, tries to make a trade that will improve it in the short term, or buckle to financial pressures and dump salary in a move toward the future.
“I know you all are waiting for me to say we’re not going to trade anybody,” Kerr said. “But this is the NBA. This is business as usual.”
Business as usual for the Suns, anyway.
While Kerr said his intention is to “keep what we have and go forward and see what we can do with it,” he left out the part about whether everyone in the organization wants to do that. There have been strong indications in recent weeks that managing partner Robert Sarver is pushing for financially motivated trades that would dump salary and clear cap space for the future. I can’t imagine Sarver is eager to keep the roster intact after eating about $4 million of Porter’s contract only 51 games into it.
So the dysfunction continues, and Kerr is next with the bull’s eye on his chest. Asked how he likes his job, he smiled and said, “Just peachy.”
Just another day in paradise.
Posted on: February 14, 2009 4:43 am
Edited on: February 15, 2009 4:27 am
PHOENIX -- Terry Porter's job, like the Phoenix Suns' roster, has been hanging in the balance for several weeks. As Suns managing partner Robert Sarver grapples with which direction to take next, there is a "good chance" assistant Alvin Gentry will take over the head coaching job, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com.
That decision, like the fate of Amare Stoudemire, Shaquille O'Neal, and numerous other players, is in the hands of the fickle Sarver, who denied Friday that Porter's job is in danger.
“No, no. That’s an erroneous rumor,” Sarver told the Arizona Republic when asked about a New York Post report that Porter would be fired and replaced by team president Steve Kerr.
But the Suns have been discussing every aspect of their flatlining organization for several weeks, including whether to dump salary and trade either Stoudemire or O'Neal and whether to abandon the failed experiment of replacing Mike D'Antoni with Porter, a defensive-minded coach saddled with frustrated players forced to play a dramatically different style than the up-tempo one that was good for 58 wins per season over the past four years.
The person with knowledge of discussions about Porter's job security stressed that nothing is certain until Sarver actually signs off on it.
"Everything's fluid until the moment it actually happens," the person said.
UPDATE: In fact, urgency within the organization to make a coaching change appears to have overshadowed efforts to make a major trade before Thursday's deadline. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Sarver leaned hard on Kerr to seriously consider moving to the bench, but Kerr managed to avert such an untenable situation. He wants to coach someday, but the Suns' situation is too dysfunctional for learning on the job. With no ideal offer on the table for Stoudemire, Kerr now appears focused on making the right coaching decision, with Gentry the most sensible candidate -- at least in the short term. The Suns may consider expanding their search for a long-term replacement if Porter is fired or reassigned.
The appeal of Gentry is two-fold -- his experience and ties to the D'Antoni regime. His familiarity with the D'Antoni offensive system in which the Suns thrived would appeal to Steve Nash and Stoudemire, both of whom could be reinvigorated by the change.
Porter told the Arizona Republic Friday that neither Sarver nor Kerr had spoken to him about losing his job.
Gentry, previously a head coach with the Clippers, Pistons, and Heat, is a holdover from D'Antoni's staff who didn't join the former Suns coach on the Knicks' bench in New York. Gentry was viewed by some as a logical replacement when D'Antoni left amid disagreements with management over the direction of the Suns' roster following Kerr's decision to trade Shawn Marion to Miami for Shaquille O'Neal in February 2008.
If Sarver goes through with the decision to fire Porter and replace him with Gentry, he would be repudiating Kerr's decision to hire Porter in the first place. It is a point that was not lost on longtime Suns executive Jerry Colangelo, who seemed to implicate Kerr in the Suns' current struggles when he spoke Friday at a Basketball Hall of Fame news conference.
"When Steve Kerr selected Terry Porter, that was his guy," Colangelo said. "He had the faith and confidence in him. It’s either worked out or hasn’t or it’s something that’s being questioned right now. Steve has to be responsive to that one way or the other. Terry’s a good guy. He’s worked hard at it. He inherited a team in transition. People have to be held accountable, and those making those decisions should consider all of that."
Posted on: February 13, 2009 7:39 pm
PHOENIX -- Amare Stoudemire was right about one thing Friday when he said, "It's going to be an interesting 10 days." He just had his dates wrong. The trade deadline is six days away, and by Thursday we'll know if Stoudemire is staying or going.
As of now, Stoudemire said he's handicapping it at 60-40.
"Sixty keeping me, and 40 not keeping me," Stoudemire said. "Teams are asking about me and wanting me, so that's a good thing."
Stoudemire attracted one of the biggest crowds at the All-Star media session Friday, and for good reason. His team is furiously trying to reshape itself yet again by trading either Stoudemire or Shaquille O'Neal by Thursday. Stoudemire said he's been told by management that the reasons are financial.
"From a financial standpoint, it'll help them afford certain players," Stoudemire said. "I'm not sure if they're giving up on the season or still trying to win a championship. Not sure."
Speculation also continues to swirl about the future of Suns coach Terry Porter, whose job status has been the subject of organizational discussion for several weeks. But someone who still has a lot of clout in the Suns organization, Jerry Colangelo, made it pretty clear Friday that he feels Porter shouldn't be the only person held accountable.
"When Steve Kerr selected Terry Porter, that was his guy," said Colangelo, speaking at the news conference announcing the 2009 Basketball Hall of Fame finalists. "He had the faith and confidence in him. It’s either worked out or hasn’t or it’s something that’s being questioned right now. Steve has to be responsive to that one way or the other. Terry’s a good guy. He’s worked hard at it. He inherited a team in transition. People have to be held accountable, and those making those decisions should consider all of that."
Colangelo, the architect of Team USA's gold-medal performance at the Summer Olympics in Beijing last summer, is an oddly positioned figure in these All-Star festivities. Having spent much of his professional life grooming the Suns into a class organization, he envisioned an All-Star weekend here that would celebrate not only the success of his city, but also the franchise. Instead, the Suns are in turmoil.
"That’s a hard thing to swallow after giving birth to the franchise and being so intimately involved in it after 40 years," Colangelo said. "There’s turmoil right now. There’s transition. There’s a lot of rumors and speculation regarding a coaching change and trades. For certain, because of the age of the players, there’s instability right now. A lot of things could happen in all of those areas. The only two people who can really comment and say something constructive about it are (managing partner) Robert Sarver and Steve Kerr. There’s a lot of stuff circulating and it appears there could be some things happening."