(Jeff Vinnick/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Jeff Vinnick/NBAE/Getty Images)

Steve Kerr is entering his third year as general manager of the Suns, who are looking to make a return to the playoffs with some old faces and new acquisitions. Kerr took some time to address the roster with Suns.com:

Suns.com: What are your overall impressions of the team heading into the season?

Steve Kerr: I’m excited about our team. They’ve worked hard, they’re playing together and they’ve formed a great chemistry. We have a lot of good young players who are in the process of developing, which is exciting.

Suns.com: Any pleasant surprises in the preseason?

SK: Nothing has really surprised me. Our players reported to camp in good condition, and they’ve done exactly what I had hoped. The one setback is Robin Lopez’s foot injury, which is disappointing. But he’ll be back early in the season and he’ll be a big part of our progress going forward.

Suns.com: The team got younger this off-season (with an average age of 26.5 years). Was that something you were actively seeking to make happen?

SK: Yes, we knew that our core group of guys was getting older, and that in order to make the transition to the next era of Suns basketball, it was imperative to add youth and talent. That’s why we’re excited about the additions of Earl Clark and Taylor Griffin, and the development of the young guys we brought along last year: Robin, Jared Dudley, Goran Dragic and Lou Amundson. We also like the fact that we have a group of talented veterans who can mentor those young guys, which is important.

Suns.com: What does first-round pick Earl Clark add to the team?

SK: Earl is a very talented player. His best attribute is his defense. At 6-10, he’s extremely mobile and capable of guarding both perimeter and interior players. That’s an important talent to have in this day and age. Earl is young, though, and it will take him time before he’s really ready to contribute. He needs to get better with his shooting and decision-making, but he’s working hard every day and we’re happy with his progress.

Suns.com: Everyone talks about the Lakers and Spurs in the West. Where do the Suns fit in?

SK: I think we’re in the group below LA and San Antonio. There are a lot of good teams in the West, but there’s no reason why we can’t compete with any of them. If we stay healthy and our young guys continue to get better, I think we have a chance to be a really good team.

BRIEF INTRODUCTION

My name is Sam Amico, I’ve been covering the NBA for more than a decade, and in 2004, I was the self-proclaimed Biggest Suns Fan in West Virginia (other than maybe some friends and relatives of former coach Mike D’Antoni, a West Virginia native).

Actually, I’ve been a Suns fan my entire life, dating back to the days of Walter Davis, Alvin Adams and Paul Westphal. So to get the opportunity to write about one of my favorite franchises in all of sports — something I will be doing on a weekly basis for Suns.com — is a slam dunk of an opportunity for me.

I’m currently based in Cleveland, where I cover the NBA for the league website. The only other place my columns appear is right here. And I hope you enjoy them.

Five years ago, when my son Brady was born, Suns public relations director Julie Fie mailed him a stuffed animal — the Phoenix Suns Gorilla, needless to say. Neither Brady nor I are ashamed to admit he still sleeps with his favorite NBA mascot today.

But that’s not my only connection to the Suns. Ten years before that, current GM Steve Kerr was a shooting guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Back then, the media would take the court for a quick run after Cavs practice. Kerr stuck around, and decided to join me and my reporter friends in a game of 3-on-3. The teams were me, Kerr and some other media stiff, against three other media stiffs.

That’s right, my team had an NBA player on it, a guy who never missed from beyond the 3-point arc.

And we lost. Against three media stiffs.

Why? Because even though Kerr was an NBA player, I took all of the shots. He was open, I was not. But I kept firing away anyway. Afterwards, Kerr just smiled and shook his head. He deserved better (and eventually got it when his future teammates were named Michael Jordan and David Robinson, and not Sam Amico).

At any rate, I welcome all feedback, and love reading e-mails from readers who share my passion for the NBA. So please feel free to bombard me at amico@probasketballnews.com.

Now, on to what we’re really here for.

AROUND THE NBA

* It seems like we say this every year, but this time it could actually be true: The Clippers may not be the butt of everyone’s jokes this season. In fact, they stand a chance to compete for a playoff spot. Besides adding No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin, they made a summer trade with Minnesota to strengthen their bench, landing young point guard Sebastian Telfair and forward Craig Smith.

* So if Baron Davis, Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby can stay healthy … and Griffin comes as advertised … and second-year guard Eric Gordon continues to develop … and Al Thornton continues to be one of the most underrated forwards in the game … and Telfair and Smith … well, you get the picture. Basically, the Clippers could get things turned around quickly.

* Of course, the Suns are hoping it’s not too quickly. They open the season against the Clippers on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

* Things should be equally entertaining two nights later for the Suns’ home-opener, when the Golden State Warriors bring their running and gunning ways to the U.S. Airways Center. As you know, the Warriors will match the Suns fast-break for fast-break and shot for shot, and as one NBA fan told me, “I wish the Suns and Warriors could play EVERY night.”

* There stands a chance the Warriors could be without team leader Stephen Jackson, the disgruntled swingman who has requested a trade. On the bright side for the Warriors, Jackson and Nelson seem to do their best work when butting heads, which is one reason Jackson very well may remain with the team.

As Nelson said, “We’re going to try to accommodate him, but that’s not easy to do.”

Sam Amico writes for NBA.com and is a regular contributor to Suns.com. He can be reached at amico@probasketballnews.com.

  • JOHN SERPE

    At least Steve Kerr is realistic about the Suns being in the group below the Lakers, and for the record a lot more teams than just LA. Other than being excited to see our Suns back in action, there really isn’t much to hope for this year. We have been blown out of games this pre-season, and the few we won were the same old run up the score lets see who can put the most points on the board first. It’s the same Suns that we watched under DiAntoni, entertaining but you no they can’t compete on most nights, and any talk of going anywhere in the playoffs is just that, talk. Reality is were bottom dwellers until someone comes in and revamps this franchise, top to bottom. Until then we continue to be the NBA version of the Globetrotters, all show, no substance.