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.