By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
Posted Feb 17 2009 1:39PM
On Monday, when many were making their exodus from Phoenix after the 2009 NBA All-Star Game, the Phoenix Suns may have made sure one of the more important guys stayed put.
Yesterday, the Suns fired Terry Porter and replaced him with assistant Alvin Gentry, the lone holdover from former coach Mike D'Antoni's tenure in Phoenix. In giving Porter his walking papers, the Suns may have also squelched any of the trade speculation swirling around Amar'e Stoudemire, who had publicly expressed his frustration with Porter's new offensive scheme.
Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reported in Tuesday's edition that Suns general manager Steve Kerr is now less inclined to part with Amar'e now that Gentry has told the team to open the throttle on offense.
"With orders to return to a 'breakneck pace,' there were non-stop scrimmages with a five-second backcourt rule reinstalled." Coro wrote. "Talking and walking was gone. Running and gunning was in."
For the Suns, changing the man who holds the clipboard proved to be far easier than working a deal for Stoudemire. It's not that they didn't have willing trade partners, but the Suns weren't happy with the fire-sale-level offers they were getting in return.
Also, Kerr had already made two big acquisitions in his short tenure: Shaquille O'Neal and Jason Richardson. By bringing those two players in, Kerr sent three players who fit very well into D'Antoni offensive style of seven-seconds-or-less: Shawn Marion, Raja Bell and Boris Diaw.
If the Suns were willing to part with two-time MVP Steve Nash, then they may have been able to go to a more traditional half-court offense with Shaq as an anchor. Understandably, they weren't willing to part with Nash.
It's not as if Nash can't run a half-court offense. He does every night if the Suns don't take a quick shot, but their offense is more effective when they beat teams down the floor and Nash is working his way through and around defenses. As a matter of fact, most NBA offenses are best when they beat their opponents down the floor, but Nash is the best in the business when it comes to pushing the ball and getting his team into an early position to score.
Stoudemire, when motivated, is one of the league's more potent offensive players.
Now, it will be up to Gentry to make sure Nash, Stoudemire and Shaq can be the big three Kerr thought they could be.
• One NBA insider we talked to Tuesday morning mentioned things have slowed down a little in the past couple days, mainly because the Monday after All-Star Weekend is a travel day for many front office personnel. Yet, with the deadline only two days away, talks (and moves) could heat up quickly.
• The Kings have acquired Sam Cassell from the Celtics for a conditional second-round pick. According to a report on ESPN.com, the deal was made to ease the Celtics' luxury tax situation and it clears a roster space if the defending champs do want to add another player.
It wouldn't be surprising to see the Kings waive Cassell, who hasn't played a minute this season and as acted as a de-facto assistant. If the Kings do waive him, Cassell couldn't join the Celtics as a player until March 17, making him ineligible for post-season play. The Celtics have now lost three veteran players who were instrumental in their championship quest last season: Cassell, James Posey, who signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Hornets and P.J. Brown, who retired.
• It seems less and less likely the Washington Wizards will part with Caron Butler. In Tuesday's Washington Post, Ivan Carter writes in an overview of GM Ernie Grunfeld's tenure, that Grunfeld doesn't want to break up the triumvirate of Butler, Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas.
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