By Art Garcia, NBA.com
Posted Jun 15 2010 11:48PM
A possible reunion with TNT appears in the works after Steve Kerr stepped down Tuesday as general manager of the resurgent Suns. Kerr's three-year contract with Phoenix expires June 30.
Kerr, 44, could replace Doug Collins as one of TNT's analysts on NBA broadcasts. Collins returned to coaching last month with the Philadelphia 76ers. Kerr first joined the Turner network after retiring as a player in 2003.
"A broadcasting opportunity would allow me to spend more time with my family which is very important to me," Kerr said in a statement released by the Suns. "I will certainly miss the relationships I've forged here with the players, coaches and members of the organization. It's a special group of people and I wish the organization nothing but success moving forward."
Turner has already expressed interest in bringing Kerr back into the fold.
"We have a long history with Steve, who was a terrific analyst for TNT during his time with our network," Turner spokesman Sal Petruzzi said. "We certainly would have interest in Steve rejoining the Turner Sports family and look forward to sitting with him and discussing his future opportunities."
Kerr left TNT in 2007 to take the Suns post, returning the franchise that drafted him out of Arizona in '88. Kerr played an instrumental role in Suns owner Robert Sarver buying the team from Jerry Colangelo in '04, taking a small ownership stake in the team and serving as a consultant before replacing former coach Mike D'Antoni as GM three years later.
Second-guessing followed many of Kerr's early moves with the Suns, including the departure of D'Antoni as coach, trading Shawn Marion in the deal for Shaquille O'Neal, and hiring former coach Terry Porter. Despite the presence of Shaq, two-time MVP Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire, the Suns bottomed by missing the playoffs in 2009.
Signs of a turnaround surfaced last season after Kerr fired Porter and promoted Alvin Gentry, who began the process of restoring the Suns' run-and-gun identity. Kerr traded O'Neal during the offseason, signed Nash to a two-year extension, brought in Channing Frye and fought the urge to trade Stoudemire during the season.
The Suns finished a surprising 52-28 and reached the Western Conference finals, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. Kerr and Gentry were equally credited with returning a sense of stability to a franchise that had its share of turmoil and uncertainty in recent years.
Only three players remain from the roster Kerr inherited in 2007. The Suns went 155-91 (.630) over the last three years.
"We wish Steve nothing but the best and thank him for all the contributions he has made to our club during his tenure, and for helping to lay the foundation for our current and future success," Sarver said in statement.
Kerr's return to the front office appeared to be a no-brainer as he talked about the future and building on the past season. He's said at times over the last few years that he missed television, and the demands of the being the general manager were greater than he originally anticipated.
The challenges of building a winner were further complicated by the considerable financial limitations imposed by Sarver. Among the issues the Suns must address this summer are the free agencies of Stoudemire and Frye. Stoudemire is looking for a max-level contract and figures to have plenty of suitors.
Kerr also enjoyed a close personal relationship with Nash, Grant Hill and other players on the team, and considered Gentry a partner. Suns players often talked about chemistry and their genuine fondness for one another as a reason for their success.
"After much thought and deliberation, I have decided this is the right time for me to move on both professionally and personally," Kerr said in the statement. "The past three years have been exceptional for me. The work and dedication of everyone with the organization is tremendous and I appreciate the passion and commitment that Robert Sarver has for the Phoenix Suns and creating a perennial winner.
"I feel the team is well poised for the future, with strong leadership both on the roster and in the front office, and a good mix of veterans and young talent that will continue to grow together and succeed at the highest level."
Sarver said during the playoffs that Kerr had grown tremendously as a manager over the last three years. The owner told the Arizona Republic that money had little to do with Kerr's decision to walk away.
"I wouldn't say it's a big surprise," Sarver told the newspaper. "Television is what he did before he came on board. It's a change of plans from during the season. It boiled down to a number of things, including lifestyle and the opportunity. I was hoping to have him back."
While Kerr worked in Phoenix, his family maintained a home in San Diego. His oldest son, Nick, plays high school basketball there and is entering his senior season. Several colleges have expressed recruiting interest.
Kerr is expected to continue with the Suns through the Draft later this month and will keep his ownership interest in the team.
Sarver returns to the familiar position of filing a key management job. He's already employed three coaches and three general managers in six years as owner. The contract of assistant GM David Griffin is also expiring at the end of the month.
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