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...]

Kerr Answers Your Questions

 

We’re in the midst of looking for a new coach, preparing for free agency and scouting for the draft, so obviously there’s a lot of work to be done. But we’re confident that when all is said and done, we’re going to come away with a better ballclub next season. Sorry I couldn’t get to everyone, but here’s a sampling of some of the questions that came my way this month…

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Signing Grant Hill as a free agent and trading for Shaq were just two of the experiences Steve Kerr had in his first year as Suns GM.
(NBAE Photos)

 

You’ve obviously experienced a lot as a first-year GM… signing free-agents (Hill), trade demands (Marion), blockbuster trade (Shaq), playoff disappointment (Spurs), controversy (Coach D) and now a coaching search.  What’s the last year been like for you?
– Andrew D, Phoenix

Hi Andrew,
Yes, I’ll admit – I didn’t expect my first year to be anything like this. I knew we had a great situation and I figured we’d let it ride and see what happened. But in the NBA, things change quickly. Between making the Shaq deal and Mike moving onto New York, I’ve been much more active than I anticipated. But I’ve enjoyed the work and the process, and I’m excited about the opportunity to make the team better.

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Why don’t you coach the Suns? I really can’t think of a better choice out there. You were always a winner and a champion. You played for 3 of the best coaches ever. It would be a lot like the situation in San Antonio when Brian Hill left and Popovich took over. He has done a pretty fair job. I really believe you have what it takes to make the suns world champions.
– Gary B, Phoenix

Gary, Thanks for the compliment – I really appreciate it. But there are two reasons I wouldn’t coach this team. One, I don’t have the experience. I really believe coaching in the NBA is a job that requires training, and I haven’t coached at any level. Two, it’s an incredibly difficult job that would make balancing my family life and my career very difficult. In short, I’m not ready. Maybe down the road it’s something I’ll consider, but not now.

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Phoenix Suns vs San Antonio Spurs – Game 5


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
11:00 pm
Josh Greene

Arghhhh…

Possibly the only thing more aggravating than being eliminated from the postseason again, is to be “detained” in the arena where the latest elimination took place. My exit from the AT&T Center in San Antonio was far easier said than done after Game 5, especially when facing locked doors, chained gates and (for some reason) angry security guards at every turn.

Between the outcome of the game and the dejection in the visitors’ locker room during the postgame media scrum, I couldn’t wait to get out of that building – and with good reason. [Read more...]

Top 10 Reasons Why the Suns Will Win Game 5

Although they’re playing the champs on their home-court, I’m going to deliver to you why, despite facing elimination, I think the Suns are going to pull out Game 5.


Diaw might end up being the key to Game 5.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

1. Hot Hands: The Suns players are hot. In the first three games of the series, the usual suspects, Amaré Stoudemire, Steve Nash and Shaquille O’Neal all were able to contribute offensively, while some of the other players didn’t produce as much as expected. However, going into Game 5, Gordan Giricek is in rhythm, Boris Diaw is hot, Leandro Barbosa is still feeling good from Game 3 and Raja Bell is en fuego. Shooters thrive on confidence, and they all should have a decent amount heading into the AT&T Center.

2. STAT Attack: The team’s leading scorer, Amaré Stoudemire, only scored seven points in Game 4 and the Suns still blew the Spurs out. That is an ominous sign for San Antonio because STAT rarely has two poor shooting games in a row. With everyone coming into the game on fire and STAT due to erupt, the Suns could score 120 points. [Read more...]

In Game 4, Boris Diaw's Initials Stand for "Big Difference"


  

Boris Diaw’s aggresiveness on Sunday made the difference in the game.
(NBAE Photos)Game Four also came up a laugher for this blogster. All I really had to do was punch up my Game 3 magnum opus on the screen, change all the San Antonios to Phoenixes, all the Phoenixes to San Antonios, all the Tony Parkers to Boris Diaws and all the Boris Diaws to Tony Parkers — and voila!

Sunday was that complete a reversal of fortunes from Friday!

And the biggest reversal was that where Parker was the whole show in Game Three, it was his French compatriot, Diaw, who was le difference in Game Four. And as they say in Paree, vive le difference!

Coach Mike said Diaw was “phenomenal,” and that is le mot juste.

He not only was the key to putting the clamps on Parker, but his aggressive low post presence created some mismatch nightmares for the Spurs and opened up the floor for his teammates, most notably Raja Bell (who played some pretty good “D” himself, by the way).

Diaw, who historically plays better as a starter than off the bench, was in the lineup because a groin injury sidelined Grant Hill, and he came within two assists of a triple double. But the thing that distinguishes this Boris from the Boris Badenough who has drawn more ire from Suns fans than any other player is not so much numbers as aggressiveness.

His size, athleticism, multiple skills, and court sense are clearly of triple double caliber. But his aggressiveness seems to come and go. And when it goes he becomes a very expensive triple single, hence the ire of frustrated fans and blog floggers in Valley cyberspace.

And whether or not this victory was simply a one-game stay of execution for the Suns or not depends in large part on whether the aggressive Diaw or the passive one shows up Tuesday night in San Antonio.

The bottom line: In trying to come back from an 0-3 start to win a series the Suns are trying to do something that’s never been done in the NBA, and only three times in all sports (and two of those were in hockey (which doesn’t count). So when you put it in historical context, their task seems all but impossible.

But I put it this way: If the Suns can win Game Five they WILL go on to make history. And that’s not QUITE so daunting. (But please note I said “if”, not “when”.)

Can the Suns Reverse the Curse?

 


The Suns are feeling a tad desperate.
Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images

Not only was this the first time this season that the Suns have lost three straight times, but they are in the position of being eliminated by the world champion Spurs. Adding insult to injury, no team in the history of the NBA has recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

So while San Antonio is the first team in the 2008 NBA Playoffs to take a 3-0 advantage, where does this leave Phoenix? Let’s face it: in dire straits.

While most have written off the Suns, there is still one game left to play. Although all of the momentum in our solar system is behind San Antonio, the truth remains that there is still a shred of hope.

The concept of hope is interesting in and of itself. One of my favorite movies of all-time, Shawshank Redemption, addresses its value. [Read more...]

What Went Wrong in Game 2?

 

In the case of the Suns tonight, I think it was mostly all mental. As former Yankee great Yogi Berra once said, “90 percent of the game is half-mental.”

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STAT and Co. lost their focus in the third period.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Ok, but you get my drift. When you are in the playoffs, teams cannot lose focus for a second. They can’t rest on their laurels against any team, let alone against the defending champions… and maybe the most mentally tough team in the league.

Now a lot of fans don’t like to hear that. They want to hear that their squad was merely outrebounded or that they didn’t get enough bench production. You know, something that has a nice, pretty bow wrapped around it.

But tonight, that wasn’t the case. The Suns’ mission was to start the game off hot, which they did. Then at halftime, they relaxed. And then they came out and played the third period, but never stopped relaxing.

The Spurs, on the other hand, came out on a crusade to recapture the lead. If I had to guess, Coach Popovich probably told them that he wanted them to head into the fourth with the lead, and the team rallied behind that one thought. [Read more...]

The View From the Studio Is Cushy


STAT and Co. were just one play away.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As I was pondering how I was going to wrap up the game, I bitterly watched ESPN’s studio show with my face in a glossed-over stupor. As I revisited Duncan’s secret 3-point talents, Michael Finley’s gritty 3-ball and Manu Ginobili’s lefty drive, I began to consider how much damage I could do with a baseball bat to my television. But then, before I could find a pitch to hit, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith started yapping on the screen.

It was with such irony that I found myself, unusually indignant, listening to perhaps the angriest commentator in professional sports. Why he is so mad, I will never know. He can talk about whatever he wants, he has no stake in the teams he talks about and he makes nearly a million dollars a year; sounds like a rough gig. [Read more...]

Suns/Spurs Set to Square Off

 


Just cut me Mick.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

But isn’t that the way it’s being spun? The media is pumping up the first-round duel as a sure-to-be slugfest between a popular team and another that is perceived as getting away with murder last season. Ok, maybe just assault.

While every Suns fans thinks of the Spurs as the team that first bloodied and then hip-checked Steve Nash into the scorer’s table, they also get away with a lot because they are pressuring opponents from the tip-off. [Read more...]

Keys to Beating the Spurs

 

The Suns need to maintain a poised aggression throughout the playoff series with the Spurs.
(NBAE Photos)

Anyone can beat anyone. There will be no upsets, because I’m not sure who should be favored in any of these series. Under normal circumstances, winning 55 games would have gotten us a top 3 seed and a favorable matchup in the first round. This year – it’s the world champion Spurs right out of the gates.

I guess the way to look at this series is this: we knew we’d have to get through San Antonio at some point, so we might as well try to do it right away. We’re playing well, we’re healthy, and the memory of our recent win in San Antonio is fresh in our minds. We know we have to win at least one game in San Antonio to win the series, so our 2-0 record there in the regular season is a confidence booster.

Of course, the playoffs are not the regular season – particularly when you’re playing against the champs. The Spurs are well coached, extremely tough defensively and balanced offensively. They have seen everything there is to see in the world of NBA basketball. And most of all, they have a ton of pride. This is a team that will fight til the last second. [Read more...]