Suns News

Suns Coaching Search History

After an extensive search, Porter replaces D'Antoni on the sidelines.
(Kent Horner/NBAE/Getty Images)
Updated: June 7, 2008

Since the resignation of Mike D'Antoni, the front office of the Phoenix Suns has been working around the clock in an effort to land its next head coach.

But as of today, that process has concluded with Terry Porter being named as the franchise's newest head coach.

Kerr officially began the interview process on May 15 when he flew to Detroit to meet with Porter, who was the Pistons lead assistant coach at that time. A teammate of Kerr's for two years in San Antonio, and a head coach for two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks before joining the Pistons' staff, Porter had a strong interview with the Suns. He was also the first candidate to have a second formal interview with the club.

But before Porter was officially selected, Kerr met or spoke with a litany of other candidates.

Shortly after meeting with Porter the first time, Kerr sat down with current ABC/ESPN broadcast analyst Mark Jackson, who was the runner-up for the Knicks' vacancy filled by D'Antoni.

“It’s a great job. That team is ready to win right now,” Jackson told the East Valley Tribune. “It’s very intriguing. Anyone who got that job would consider himself lucky.”

Next up, Kerr received permission from the Rockets to speak with lead assistant coach Elston Turner. The Suns were interested in Turner because of his role as "defensive coordinator" of the Rockets.

"Elston has a very impressive resume as an assistant coach and comes highly recommended around the league," the Suns GM said.

While Turner was an assistant for those great Sacramento teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Kings led the league in both offensive and defensive field goal percentage. Those teams, which were coached by Rick Adelman, were very similar in make-up to the current Suns teams and their style now.

Turner was also quick to note the similarities between the Suns and the current Rockets team and used those commonalities to strengthen his position as a potential head man.

"Both teams had two of the biggest men in the league (Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming) and you have to put those guys where they can excel on both ends of the floor," the Rockets' assistant told the Houston Chronicle.

Next up, the Suns front office zeroed in on members of Utah's staff. The Suns GM interviewed former Sun player and current Utah assistant Tyrone Corbin two weeks ago. After completing a 15-year career as a player with several NBA clubs, he has served as the second assistant on Jerry Sloan's coaching staff the last four seasons.

"Ty was a teammate of mine with the Suns in 1988 and he impressed me then as unbelievably professional and hardworking and he proved to be just that throughout his playing career and as an assistant coach in Utah," Kerr said. "I've always admired the Jazz organization and he's done a great job on their staff."

At the Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando, Kerr spoke informally with Corbin and Turner again. But no formal second interview took place with either candidate.

Another name that surfaced within the Utah staff was long-time Jazz assistant Phil Johnson. Johnson, who was NBA Coach of the Year in 1974-75, has been Sloan's lead assistant for the last 20 years.

In addition, Kerr interviewed former Sun and current Jazz special assistant Jeff Hornacek. Kerr also talked with former Hornets Head Coach Paul Silas. Silas, who played for the Suns from 1970-74, and was an assistant coach on the Suns' bench durind the early '90s, was identifed as someone, who along with Hornacek, might be able to fill a role as a possible assistant as well.

While, Hornacek and Silas are not the only former Suns to have interviewed for a position on the Suns' bench. Kerr also met with Suns broadcasters Tom Chambers and Eddie Johnson two weeks ago. Assistant GM Vinny Del Negro also formally interviewed for the position. Kerr declined commenting on any of the current Suns employees except for saying that the meetings went well with all of them.

The last name that Kerr formally interviewed with was Spurs lead assistant Mike Budenholzer. Kerr played under him for four years as a member of two of San Antonio's championship clubs.

"Mike was fantastic," Kerr stated. "He came in really really well-prepared and he had a great vision for our future and for our team and it didn’t surprise me.

"That’s the reason we brought him in."

Because Kerr didn't want his coaching search to present a distraction to any of the teams still competing in the NBA Finals, he tried to be respectful of those teams by keeping his discussions with members of their staffs under the radar.

Since Los Angeles is still competing, Kerr just recently confirmed that he contacted Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw. The AZ Republic and the East Valley Tribune reported that Kerr quietly spoke with Shaw, who is a former teammate of Shaquille O'Neal from his days with the Magic and Lakers.

In a brief meeting with the press Wednesday, Kerr stated that the Suns front office had whittled its search down and that it was likely that the Suns would not interview anyone else formally.

Former Pistons Head Coach Flip Saunders, who despite being recently let go, was not a candidate for the position. "I worked with Flip a few ago at TNT and I have a lot of respect for him," Kerr explained. "But the process we've undertaken is a good one and I don't fell like changing course now out of the blue."

And Kerr lived up to his word, making an offer to the favorite of his top four candidates.

We had an impressive list of candidates, but Terry stood out based on his leadership, his communication skills and his coaching experience as the head guy in Milwaukee for two seasons and the last couple years in Detroit," Kerr said.

The introductory press conference will either take place on Monday or Tuesday.

SUNS COACHING CANDIDATES
TERRY PORTER
May 15: Porter first to interview with Suns
Porter is currently an assistant coach for Flip Saunders in Detroit. After playing for 17 years in the NBA, he spent a season as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach of the Bucks.
MARK JACKSON
May 16: The Suns interview Jackson
May 14: Jackson to interview
Jackson currently is a color analyst for ABC and ESPN. After playing 17 seasons in the NBA with a variety of teams, the former Rookie of the Year retired second on the all-time assist list.
ELSTON TURNER
May 21: Suns interview Turner
May 16: Turner to talk with Kerr
Turner is currently the lead assistant coach with the Rockets under Rick Adelman. He has coached under Adelman in Houston as well as in Sacramento. Turner also played in the league for eight seasons.
TYRONE CORBIN
May 20: Corbin to to talk with Suns
Corbin is currently Jerry Sloan's assistant coach with the Jazz after playing 15 years in the NBA. A former teammate of Steve Kerr with the Suns, Corbin has served as Utah assistant for the last four seasons.
BRIAN SHAW
May 27: Suns talked with Shaw
Shaw is currently an assistant coach with the Lakers under Phil Jackson. The UC-Santa Barbara grad played 14 seasons in the league, including several with Suns center Shaquille O'Neal. Shaw is also a finalist for the head coach of the Bulls.
EDDIE JOHNSON
May 13: Johnson talked with Kerr
Johnson is currently the My45 and FSN AZ color analyst for the Suns and has been a Suns broadcaster for eight years. E.J. played 17 seasons in the NBA and was once awarded Sixth Man of the Year.
JEFF HORNACEK
May 21: Suns visit with Hornacek
Hornacek is currently a special assistant with the Jazz, working closely with Andrei Kirilenko. The 14-year veteran was an All-Star with the Suns and helped the Jazz to back-to-back Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998.
TOM CHAMBERS
May 13: Chambers meets with Kerr
Chambers played in the NBA for 16 years and currently works as a Suns broadcaster. The Ring of Honor member holds the Suns record for highest scoring average in a season with 27.2 points in 1989-90. He was a four-time All-Star.
VINNY DEL NEGRO
May 13: Del Negro interviews with Kerr
Del Negro is currently the Suns Assistant General Manager and has served in the front office for the past two seasons. After playing professionally for 14 seasons, Del Negro broadcasted games on the radio alongside Al McCoy on KTAR.
MIKE BUDENHOLZER
May 31: Budenholzer to interview with Kerr
Budenholzer is currently the lead assistant coach with the Spurs under Gregg Popovich and has served as an assistant for the past 12 seasons. A native of Holbrook, AZ, he played collegiately at Pomona Pitzer for Popovich.
June 7:
Suns.com - Porter Named Suns Head Coach
June 4:
East Valley Tribune - Kerr Focuses on Four Coach Candidates
June 3:
East Valley Tribune - Porter, Suns Have Long Talk
June 2:
East Valley Tribune - Porter to Get Second Interview
May 29:
East Valley Tribune - Kerr Conducts 2nd Round of Coaching Interviews
May 29:
AZ Central - Suns Look at Assistant Shaw
May 27:
East Valley Tribune - Suns Interview Shaw
May 26:
Suns.com - Kerr Answers Fan e-Mail
May 21:
East Valley Tribune - Suns Interview Turner
May 20:
East Valley Tribune - Hornacek Would Like to Return
May 19:
East Valley Tribune - Ex-Sun Corbin to Interview
May 16:
East Valley Tribune - Suns Talk With Silas
East Valley Tribune - Porter First to Interview
May 15:
Suns.com - Suns to Interview Jackson on Friday
May 14:
East Valley Tribune - Jackson to Talk With Suns
May 13:
East Valley Tribune - Suns Not Looking Internally
May 12:
East Valley Tribune - Suns Ready to Start Search
Suns.com Audio - Kerr Meets With Media
KTAR Audio - Sarver on Gambo and Ash
May 10:
Suns.com - Kerr Releases Statement on D’Antoni