Kerr Discusses the 2008 Phoenix Suns Draft

 Steve Kerr enjoys the moment after Robin Lopez was drafted by the Suns. (Jeramie McPeek/Suns.com)

First of all, we are thrilled with what transpired yesterday in the draft. Everything turned out exactly as we’d hoped. After contemplating various scenarios in which we might have added a pick or moved up in the first round, we felt strongly that we were best off keeping our team intact and simply adding our first and second round choices. We felt that if things played out for us, we might be able to add two players who could help us accomplish our goal going into yesterday: to find players who can help us sustain our recent success, but who can also be building blocks for the future. Only time will tell, of course, but we’re confident we have two new players who will help us make a successful transition to a new era.

Robin Lopez is someone who will help us right away. It’s rare to find an active 7 footer who can run and defend, so we felt fortunate that he fell to us at 15. Robin will provide something we don’t have – a versatile big guy who can get out on the perimeter to defend screen and rolls, but who also has the size and mentality to protect the rim. He’s still raw offensively, but he has a decent touch on a 15 foot jump shot and he is very good at keeping balls alive and scoring on offensive rebounds. Robin will complement Shaq and Amare nicely because he plays away from the ball, preferring to do a lot of dirty work. Terry Porter expects him to contribute right away, so our depth will be greatly enhanced. Robin told us a month ago when we worked him out that he was dying to come to Phoenix, so he got his wish – as did we. This is going to be a great fit. [Read more...]

Beechen Draft Night Diary

I searched (unsuccessfully) for an agent, went to pre-draft camp (and all I got was a t-shirt), and worked out privately for the Suns’ brass. And now we’ll see if all the hard work and preparation will be worth it.Herewith, my draft night diary, so you can share in all the joy, tears and anticipation of my bright athletic future.

All times Pacific.

2:30 PM: The first thing you have to do, if you’re an NBA draft prospect and you expected to be selected, is make sure you’re wearing your finest, flashiest suit. You want to announce to the world, here I am, ready to ruin your retinas and proud of it! Remember Joakim Noah’s duds last year? I found them a bit restrained. So I go to my local clothier (I won’t give them free promotion, but let’s just say their name rhymes with “Shmoss Dress For Less”) and head for the suit department. I ask the experienced salesperson on duty (he’s been working there since high school got out a few weeks ago) for his finest, single-breasted, purple and orange ensemble. “I’m going to be drafted by the Suns,” I tell him proudly. Not surprisingly, they have just such a suit. Unfortunately, it’s wool, and it’s eighty degrees in Los Angeles today. Double-unfortunately, the words “Harvey’s Singing Telegrams” are stitched across the back of the jacket. But the suit calls to me like…like…like a suit that’s calling to me. I plunk down my $19.99 and head into the sunshine. I’m sweating before I get to the car. [Read more...]

Life with Lopez as a Phoenix Sun

Robin Lopez’ mother, Debbie Ledford, is excited he was chosen by the Suns.
(Jeramie McPeek/Suns.com)

After the press conference, I caught up with Robin’s mother, Debbie Ledford, and his brother, Alexander Lopez. Alexander is twelve years Robin’s senior and two inches shorter but his mother gives him and their other brother, Christopher, partial credit for the work ethic both twins have on the court. “The (older brothers) taught them a lot and they showed no mercy,” she explained. Alexander continued, “We were pretty tough on them. But they got tough on both of us when they were able to.”

Obviously Robin was tough enough on his brothers that an NBA team thought he would be a good fit for them. Everyone in the family was ecstatic when Lopez was picked by Phoenix. Debbie pointed out that Robin loved the Suns from the very beginning and when he knew the team was interested in him, he stopped working out for any other team so they wouldn’t know how good he was. “This is the perfect fit for him. It’s the perfect thing for him and the best thing for the team.”

I asked what his family thought fans would want to know about him that they don’t already know. His brother said that Robin isn’t shy about being in media now that he has experience in the limelight so fans already know a lot about him. His mom commented that “he’s a gentle giant. He’s so good around kids, like his niece. He has a big heart. He treats children very well.” [Read more...]

Phoenix Suns Draft Night Blog

4:15 pm – I’ve been here for nearly eight hours and my night is just getting started. I started my day out on the zero level of the arena waiting for the circus to get over so we could do a “green screen” shoot with the circus animals, clowns and acrobats. The next part of my day moves to the 2nd and 3rd floor of the arena and is a different kind of circus. Draft night was an exciting night for me even when I didn’t work for the Suns. It’s even better now. There’s a kind of electricity in the building. The executives and coaches are on the 4th floor in the war room, the Suns.com team is headquartered on the 3rd floor in the newsroom but is scattered throughout the arena and at the draft parties in nearby restaurants and the press is on the 2nd floor waiting for the draft to start. The Suns have the 15th and the 48th picks to start out the night. The draft projections are all over the place so it’s hard to say who the Suns will get. But it should be an interesting night.

4:25 pm – Five minutes before the first pick and we’re experiencing the calm before the storm. Only three guys are left in the newsroom at the moment and things seem pretty calm. But I imagine it will pick up pretty soon. [Read more...]

He's Still Got the Touch

<”Thunder” Dan Majerle has spent the past several years as a Phoenix Suns broadcaster.� But one thing he hasn’t lost during the time spent sitting in the broadcast booth is his shooting touch.

Dan Majerle still has the shooting touch.
(Daniel Banks/Suns.com)

You may recall the Suns Gametime clip on Majerle’s pregame half-court shot. Even ESPN’s show “Pardon the Interruption” discussed the pregame ritual.

On Monday morning, several of the assistant coaches were working out a draft entrant and Majerle decided to take a few shots while there was some downtime. Suns GM Steve Kerr, SVP of Basketball Operations David Griffin, Head Coach Terry Porter and others were sitting on the other side of the court discussing something when they saw Majerle start shooting. Of course, they couldn’t let him take shots at the basket without getting in a few “shots” of their own.

Someone shouted to new Assistant Coach Igor Kokoskov, “Let’s see Dan shoot off the dribble!” And the official ribbing began. Majerle kept shooting the ball as various people shouted comments, including “He’s only worth a minimum contract” and “Minimum contract? Maybe a 10-day, non-guaranteed contract at best!”

Soon after the workout ended, I spoke with Kerr and Griffin about Majerle’s shooting. Specifically, I asked who shot better while playing in the NBA: Dan or Steve. Kerr actually took a couple of steps back and said, “What kind of question is that?!” Griffin answered for Kerr when he commented, “Dan was to Steve as a shooter as Steve was to Dan as a defender.”

I caught up with Majerle a few minutes later and asked him about his shooting practice and whether he thought he could still compete in the NBA if he only had to shoot. “Shooting never goes away,” he said. “If I didn’t have to run or play defense, I could probably be an All-Star. It’s all of the other skills that go away when you get up in age.”

Jeramie McPeek, VP of Interactive Services, proposed a shooting contest between Majerle, Kerr and Porter while we were watching the workout. I brought this idea up to Dan. He said, “That would be a fun contest. We should put that together before the end of the season.” I asked him to let Suns.com know if they ever did something like that so we could film it and the results could be part of Phoenix Suns lore. He assured me he would.

So here’s the question to you, Suns fans: Who do you think would win in a contest between Dan Majerle, Steve Kerr and Terry Porter? Why?

Catching a Draft


Steve Nash is congratulated by Commissioner David Stern on draft night in 1996.  (NBAE Photos)

You have a ticket to see and hear the real scoop on NBA hopefuls from the perspective of Suns GMs, coaches and scouts.

I have witnessed some shrewd moves like the drafting of Michael Finley at #21 overall in the first round of the 1995 draft. The Suns fell in love with his fire and athletic skills during the Desert Classic showcase camp here in Phoenix. In 1999 the Suns headquarters were at Bank One Ballpark and we were all stunned when they snagged a wiry kid out of Vegas named Shawn Marion. That pick along with the year they chose Amare (also at #9) were examples of the “misdirection” our staff created leading up to the draft. Even those of us close to the team were choking through the smoke screen and led to believe they had eyes on another player. In 2002 the Suns brought Jared Jeffries in for a second workout and interview. All the while, they were craving and hoping for Amare to still be there at #9, and thanks to the Clippers choosing Chris Wilcox 8th, Stat was indeed available. We can also thank Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe for taking Nene and Nikoloz Tskitishvili ahead of Amare as well! [Read more...]

My Private Suns Workout

Having made myself eligible for the NBA draft, I notified all teams that I was available to work out privately. None of the teams responded, but that’s okay. I only really want to play for the Suns anyway. Of course, the Suns didn’t respond either, but I assume that’s just because their invitation got lost in the mail.

How hush-hush was this workout, you ask? Let me put it like this: All parties were so desperate to keep it out of the press that there was no pre-workout communication between the Suns and myself. No plane was sent to ferry me from Los Angeles to the Valley; I drove myself. No swank hotel reservations were made in my name; I stayed with my mother (she wasn’t expecting me, either – I’m telling you, this was very hush-hush).

When I got to US Airways Center, the Suns continued the subterfuge, just in case there were any nosy NBA reporters lurking around. The team brass pretended they had no idea I’d be coming. In fact, they pretended they’d never heard of me. They carried the act so far, I actually waited in the arena lobby for a good six hours before anyone even came out and spoke to me – that’s the sign of a first-class organization! [Read more...]

A Different Angle on Suns Coach Terry Porter

New Suns coach Terry Porter answers questions during the June 9th press conference.

New Suns coach Terry Porter answers questions during the June 9th press conference.

It’s official. Terry Porter is the new Phoenix Suns coach. During the press conference, a lot of the questions you would expect were asked and you could probably rattle off what most of the answers were, as well. That’s just what happens in a “presser”.

But I wanted to get our blog readers something a little different. You can go to other parts of Suns.com and get all of the “official” quotes about Terry Porter, what he’s going to bring to the organization, pictures of his playing and coaching career, why Suns GM Steve Kerr decided on Porter, etc. Reporters were all around the Suns’ top officials like Porter, Kerr, Senior VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin, VP of Player Programs Mark West, play-by-play man Al McCoy and color commentator Dan Majerle. But I wanted something different. So I went to Coach Porter’s family. [Read more...]

Porter, Kerr Ready to Lead the Suns into the Future

New Suns Head Coach Terry Porter and GM Steve Kerr answer questions at a press conference on June 9th.
(NBAE Photos)

The good news is Terry Porter and general manager Steve Kerr are obviously, absolutely and completely on the same page, which is not surprising considering they are from the same school (i.e. — old).

The better news is there is no reason not to think it is the right page. None. Nada. Zip. Nil.

I know every new coaching era is launched with everybody wearing happy faces and saying exactly the right things. And Porter’s introductory press conference was certainly no exception.

But beyond the happy faces and right words, Porter’s resume not only indicates he is the right man at the right time for the Suns, it positively shouts it.

In fact, it stamps him as the most qualified coach the Suns have ever hired AT THE TIME OF HIS HIRING.

You could, as they say, look it up.

John Kerr was more of a genial emcee and raconteur extraordinaire than coach, Jerry Colangelo was an executive pinch hitter, Butch Van Breda Kolff was a last minute desperation choice with baggage, John MacLeod and Cotton Fitzsimmons had zero NBA experience of any kind the day they were hired, John Wetzel had almost no coaching credentials, Paul Westphal had no NBA head coaching experience, Danny Ainge, Scott Skiles, and Frank Johnson also were all rookie head coaches, and Mike D’Antoni was a legend in Italy but an unknown coaching factor on this side of the pond.

But what Porter brings to the table is 17 years of NBA experience as a player, two as a head coach, three as a top assistant coach in Sacramento and Detroit and 20 trips to the playoffs in 22 seasons. And his resume also includes stints as a player and/or coach under the likes of Jack Ramsay, Rick Adelman, and Flip Saunders, not to mention certified geniuses Pat Riley and Greg Popovich for closers.

And it’s just as impressive for what it DOESN’T include – namely baggage. The guy doesn’t even have carry on. He’s been respected and admired everywhere he’s been and in every role he’s played.

He’s been touted by some, who grew disenchanted with his predecessor, as something on an anti-Mike who will bring the gospel of defense to the heathen natives. But he is not so much the “anti” as the logical successor in terms of philosophy in that he clearly believes in much of the system that made D’Antoni’s teams the most entertaining in the league while averaging 57 wins a year.

But as successful as it was, it was a system Kerr felt needed tweaking, and alas, what the GM saw as tweaking the coach saw as meddling, and a no-fault divorce beneficial to both parties was arranged.

And so Porter takes over what is arguably the most successful franchise in any sport to never win a title. His immediate assignment is to try and squeeze a championship run out of a group many around the NBA feel is on its way down, not up.

But while that may be true, down is not out. And if Steve Nash stays healthy, Shaq stays interested, and Amar’e buys into the tweaking this is still a 50-plus-win team with a shot if everything breaks just right.

But the freshly minted Kerr-Porter team is about more than just trying to take one last shot at squeezing through a title window many feel has all but slammed shut. Much more.

For better or worse, these are the guys who will determine what life will be like beyond Steve and Shaq.

There are no guarantees, of course. But if you were drawing up specifications for a young general manager and coach to lead the way into the future, you’d find that the Suns appear to have the two people who fit those specifications.

And on paper, you can’t ask for a better shot at the future than that.

Suns Fans: Fill in the Blank

“I’d rather root for _________ than the Lakers.”