Kerr spends a lot of time scouting opposing teams and players such as the Warriors’ Stephen Curry.
(Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)

Since the advent of fantasy basketball, everybody believes that they can be a GM. Most fans have visions of a man maniacally working deals on the phone and using a staff of MIT grads to crack stats. So in order to dispel all (most) the myths, Suns President of Basketball Operations and GM Steve Kerr told Suns.com what his days are like.

Scouting
Today we have our entire scouting department in from all around the country so we met this morning, went to lunch and sat together during practice. We talked about the college kids they’ve been watching thus far this season.

Griff runs our scouting department so he’s really in charge, but I get involved as the process goes on and those guys tell me who I need to see. I start branching out and seeing different games as the season goes on. I would say by the end of the college season I will have seen 30 or 40 games. Of course, we also watch a ton of tape in the war room as well.

Ultimately when the draft comes, I rely heavily on the scouting department. That’s what those guys do all year long, and I have faith in them.

But in the end, the decision is going to stick with me and whatever the decision is, good or bad, it’s going to go on my resume. So we have a very healthy dialogue especially the final two months before the draft. We’re evaluating those guys on a daily basis. We’re interviewing them, watching tape and debating in the war room.

The big thing that I want is to build consensus with our guys and sometimes it’s a painstaking process, but it’s a healthy one. And I like to have differing opinions and varying thoughts, and then once we make the decision, we’re all on board and there’s no looking back. The tough thing about talent evaluation is that nobody is right all the time. In fact, in this business if you can be right better than half the time, then you’ve done well. You do all the research you can, but in the end you still don’t quite know how a player will fare.

On the Road
I travel a lot, whether it’s with our team or scouting college games. When I’m on the road, it’s much quieter than it is in the office.

I bring my laptop and I do most of my work from the hotel room. It’s almost solely e-mail and phone calls when I’m on the road in terms of communicating with the team and the coaching staff.

It’s a big part of the job, talking to the guys, making sure they’re feeling good about our team and observing the chemistry and the unity. One of the most satisfying feelings with this year’s team has been standing in hotel lobbies, watching 8 to 10 of our players heading out together to go grab dinner. We have a very close group, which is one of the reasons we have a good team. Those guys play hard for each other.

I don’t always travel on the road with our team especially now that the college season is in full swing. I went on the early East Coast trip and the recent trip to L.A. and Dallas, but for the most part I just pick my spots during the year. Sometimes I’ll just hitch a ride on our team plane in order to get to a college game somewhere nearby.

I go to a lot of ASU games. Anytime anybody comes through that has a potential pro, I’ll go over and watch ASU. Or I’ll go down to Tucson a couple of times to watch U of A. But it’s nice to be able to just drive over to Tempe and scout. The last couple of years, the Pac 10 has been loaded with NBA talent, so it’s been easy to see a lot of players right in our own backyard.

It’s also fun to see different strategies that teams are employing, and to see where the game is trending. Even though I’m a Wildcat, I enjoy watching Herb Sendak’s zone defense at ASU. So even when I’m not scouting, I keep an eye on what’s going on out there at the college and pro level.

STAT Crunching
I’m not a stat wonk, but Griff and Amin (Assistant Director of Basketball Operation Amin El-Hassan) are both heavily into stats and we’ll have those discussions sometimes. I’m not really into +/- as I am into what lineups are playing well together and why.

So we’ll discuss those internally and this year has been trickier because we’re having more people play significant minutes.

Because we’re trying to develop the younger guys and because we’re relying more heavily on our depth, we had a lot more lineups this year. So we’re looking at those stats.

Sometimes I’ll notice a trend during the game and have it investigated. I was watching the Denver game the other night and I wanted to know what a certain success rate was with certain lineups on the floor so I sent a text to Amin and he did the background research. There are some great websites where that information is easily accessible, and both Amin and Griff do a great job evaluating our team and studying statistical trends.

  • Clint

    Steve Kerr still needs to find employment elsewhere he’s not GM material

  • Greg Taylor

    Steve Kerr is doing a great job. I stand behind him. Go AHEAD, Steve!

  • http://msn.com jeff

    We should have the scouting staff take a look at these college players as possible options for the suns either in the 2010 or 2011 draft evan turner-because he could fall due to injury or become available to us in the 2011 draft. Oklahoma state’s james anderson whose game is reminiscent of former laker eddie jones,both in shooting and defensive skills. Manny harris of michigan who shoots 87% from the free-throw line and can pass and get his own shot.Scotty hopson who plays like former spur willie anderson. Terrico white of old miss has the athletic skills of an andre iguodala. Ohio state’s william buford who compares favorably to rip hamilton because of his shooting and ability to free himself up on the perimeter. Out of all these players at shooting guard i like oklahoma state’s james anderson the best, he has the skill-set to become a lock down defensive player on the perimeter and is almost as athletic as jason richardson. The difference with anderson though is he plays excellent defense and is a very consistent shooter. I think he has the potential to be this year’s sam young and would be a steal for us if we could trade for his draft rights in 2010. I know i’m just a fan making a suggestion for a draft that’s still months away but it never hurts for the fans to leave a comment about who they want in a suns uniform in the future. Also please humor me and keep an eye on baylor’s freshman center perry jones,he’s the next kevin durant and has the same body and perimeter skills. He’s ranked #2 on nba draft.net’s 2011 mock draft but it would definitely be worth considering to do whatever it takes to get him on the suns given durant’s potential and current production. I just want to wish our scouts happy hunting and good luck in finding a jeff hornacek type steal in the second rounds of the coming draft.

  • Kent

    Why go to the trouble of tracking down Grant Hill if you’re not going to play him in the 4th quarter? He and Nash are the only veterans. Stop treating them like retirees. Start scouting the talent you already have!

  • Jonathan

    Ok so we don’t have a 1st round draft pick next year, so we need to do something to get better…

    This is what we need.. NOT A BIG MAN.. Amare, Channing, and Lopez, with the help of Amundson can work if we get the right peice… That being a CLOSER!! Amare is too emotional and not the correct type of player (size and ball handling ability) to be that closer. Nash is good, but too old and too pass first oriented to be that guy too..

    Who we need is Dwayne Wade! Now the first argument against this is we can’t pay him.. Incorrect!! We need to dump Jason Richardson, who struggles with intensity and off the court problems. Then, I’d hate to say it, but it’s time for Barbosa to find a new home. All he looks to do is shoot now, no matter what the situation is and with Dudley and Dragic maturing, he is expendable.

    Money wise, Wade makes over $15.5 mill.. Barbosa makes $6.6 mill and Richardson makes $13.3 mill. Add those together and you can have enough money to sign Wade and give him a bit of a raise.. plus have money to guarentee Amare a bigger contract!! Amare is special.. and we can’t forget that!

    On top of this you should be able to get draft picks from trading those other two guys.. even if they are a collection of second rounders. You can sell those for cash or stock them and see what you can do on draft day!!

    Nash will have two threats to give the ball to in key moments (Amare and Wade), this covers up our size issue by getting a strong threat for against those tough teams like LA, and Wade is a defensive stud. Also, it gives us another ball handler so Nash can sit more; especially with Dragic playing well.. Plus, Nash won’t be around forever and Wade can be the guy to help transition. We get better now and for the future!!

    Shooting 3′s won’t win us a championship (like tonight; yes we won, but with 4 mins left in the first half we had LA in the penalty.. DRIVE and end that game sooner), big men don’t work in Phoenix with our style, and we can’t get a good enough one anyways..

    Do what’s right STEVE KERR! Dwayne Wade in Phx.

  • rommel

    Steve is it possible to trade j-rich for T-mac

  • Rommel

    Steve kindly trade j-rich for t-mac for us to have a a good financial flexibility

  • http://msn.com jeff

    I really hope that in trading our 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft along with alando to the wolves won’t come back to haunt us. Unfortunately i have a feeling the top 40 protection stipulation we put on it won’t matter. Chances are very good that it’ll be pick 42 or lower and there’s no doubt in my mind that the wolves will nab a 2nd round steal.Guys like renardo sidney,tim olbrecht(the 2nd coming of dirk nowitzki),jerome dyson(a leandro barbosa clone)tyler smith,jarvis varnardo and jerome jordan are all guys who we could miss out on. If there’s one thing that every suns fan has been disgusted with over the years it’s been selling off our draft picks for cash without any picks or compensation in return. I’m glad tucker will finally get his oppurtunity and collins will be able to get more minutes but to illustrate my point why selling picks for cash is almost always a terrible idea, pay attention to rajon rondo tonight and realize that he could have brought this type of talent to the suns years ago. Dragic is really starting to impress and his game is getting better all the time but our trading for him in the second round just proves my point even more,smart gm’s and owners are always looking to get something back in return when making trades(not just cash compensation)and if they actually have a scouting department worthy of keeping their jobs they are capable of finding those second round gems. Maybe our scouting staff just isn’t what it used to be when dick percudani was alive and rex chapman was helping him. Regardless of that it would be a bad mistake to overlook any part of the next two drafts and suns fans would like to see us get at least some value that we can enjoy during games. I don’t know how many more seasons can go by before this begins to sink in. Our front office’s decision making has to be better and more thought out instead of such one-sided trades that give late christmas gifts to other teams with nothing coming back to us in return. The fans are much more aware of what’s needed than our front office realizes and maybe if sarver put his ego in check for once and tried a dose of humility his money saving decisions wouldn’t look so negative to the suns fanbase. Then again,what does it matter what we as fans want? I mean we only pay for the tickets,concessions,merchandise,web page hits and other things that are the life’s blood of this teams revenue. Just a little something to think about next time we want to trade a pick or picks for cash. Bottom line is if the fan base isn’t happy with the front office’s decisions no more money for sarver’s wallet. We want a contender sarver,not a pretender so keep that in mind next time another gm comes calling.