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Phoenix Suns

Steve Kerr’s Unnecessary Gamble

If Steve Kerr wants to reap the fruits of his highly controversial trade for Shaquille O’Neal, letting go of Mike D’Antoni is a move he should not, under any circumstances, make.
While D’Antoni’s flaws as a coach were exposed in the first round against San Antonio, the Suns were undone more by their silly mistakes. Those mental breakdowns and blown assignments at the end of Game 1 were inexcusable. As were those costly turnovers in the latter stages of Game 5. Let’s say that Phoenix won Game 1, the whole complexion of this series would have been completely different.

But alas, small mistakes always add up to having bigger consequences, and as a reward for the Suns penchant for mental lapses, they were given the boot in Round 1 and left everybody questioning the state of the Suns for next year.

Now that they’ve been booted out of the play-offs, the onus is on Kerr to breathe life on this floundering team and the first thing he needs to address is the status of Mike D’Antoni as head coach.

We’ve all heard about the philosophical differences Kerr and D’Antoni have had with regards to the team’s direction. D’Antoni prefers his run-and-fun style of play and believes that after averaging 57 wins over the past four years, his style of play can work. Kerr, meanwhile, wants more emphasis on defense and a sense of accountability and responsibility from his younger players. In Kerr’s mind, imagine how good Stoudemire will be if he cared a little bit more about getting rebounds, or how dominant Boris Diaw can be if he paid more attention to defense than the number of croissants he’s had.

That’s where their philosophical difference lies. D’Antoni thinks Kerr is micromanaging while Kerr thinks D’Antoni is being too lenient on his players.

If you ask me, there’s a way to reseolve this and Kerr has to understand that firing D’Antoni will only exacerbate his gamble of acquiring O’Neal and you don’t chase a gamble by making an even bigger one.

Kerr needs to `know his personnel’ – as he always put it when he was a TNT analyst – and understand that the Suns are built to win now, and not later.

Changing coaches and changing philosophy takes time but the Suns don’t have that luxury. Nash and Shaq are both 34. Grant Hill is 30-something, and Raja Bell has clearly lost a step – or three. Those four, supposing the Suns don’t make any roster changes during the summer, are almost half of their regular rotation. Putting in a new coach with a different philosophy is a coated way of saying that `they’re starting over’. That’s fine and good if you’re a team like the Toronto Raptors, but not if you’re a team who relies a great deal on two players that are clearly past their prime.

The Suns can’t afford to have another coach come in and put in a different style from the one they’ve been running the past couple of years. It’s more important for Nash because D’Antoni’s system fits his style of play like a glove.

If Kerr does decide to make a change, he should do everything he can to make sure D’Antoni’s job is secure, but also try to convince him of the simple “merits” of playing defense in a way that will not undermine Coach D’Antoni’s position as coach.

But if Steve Kerr does let go of Coach D’Antoni, he – for all intents and purposes – is closing the curtain on the run-and-fun style of the Suns; a bad idea considering the majority of his team is best-suited in that style of play.

Keep Mike D’Antoni, Steve Kerr. You already made a big gamble on the Shaq trade and its best that you don’t get coaxed into making a bigger gamble on this one.

2 replies on “Steve Kerr’s Unnecessary Gamble”

very nice i thought d’antoni just wanted to leave on his own though, isn’t he under contract? idk the lakers are still playing its hard to focus on the things outside of the playoffs right now.

how well do you think shaq plays next year? or the next 2? years?

shaq I believe Shaq only has one good year left which really puts the pressure on Steve Kerr and the Suns to either resolve this D’Antoni situation or find a new coach who can utilize all these egos and make them a cohesive unit.

If they can get a good coach, they’ll still be a contender. But if they don’t find a good coach, then it’s going to be a long drawn-out sunset for this team.

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