The last time I saw Steve Kerr on TV, he was explaining why he traded 2009’s All-NBA third team center and All-Star co-MVP for Ben Wallace‘s blowup doll and a practice player who might be the third-best “Sasha” in the League.
Interviewed by ESPN during the Draft, Kerr admitted the original trade that brought Shaq to Phoenix didn’t work, and, probably as a preemptive explanation for the Amar’e Stoudemire trade that was in-progress at the time, said the Suns are “in transition” — another way of saying “rebuilding” — and are not a championship contender.
But ever since then — after the trade that would have sent Amar’e to Golden State and brought a nice rebuilding haul of Stephen Curry, Brandan Wright and Andris Biedrins back to Phoenix fell apart — the moves Phoenix has made don’t look like that of a rebuilding franchise at all. Rather than chasing free agents and pursuing trades to make the roster younger, the Suns have been talking to Steve Nash about an extension, and just locked up Grant Hill after a bidding war with the Knicks and Celtics. Does it look like rebuilding when your primary concern is re-upping with a 35-year-old point guard with a bad back (who again has no decent backup) and a 36-year-old small forward with fragile feet and ankles?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to let Hill go and spend your energy and limited free agent budget on somebody like Marvin Williams, an affordable SF with long-term potential? Or, since you already have Earl Clark in the fold, do what you’ve needed to do for years and get a young point guard to (eventually) replace Nash?
If the Suns are truly rebuilding, they can still commit to that movement despite the failed Amar’e deal. After all, STAT is only 26, and maybe you forgot, but he’s a really really good player. Make Amar’e the centerpiece; keep Nash around short-term to (1) ease the transition and (2) keep the team attractive to potential free agents; pull the trigger on the rumored Wallace-for-Tyson Chandler deal, or else use Ben’s $14M to bring in a few young players; and continue getting guys like Channing Frye, who Phoenix signed earlier today.
But maybe that is Kerr’s strategy; say you’re rebuilding as a way to lower the expectations, so when/if your attempts to win fall short, you’re not on the hot seat. Because if Kerr has shown anything in taking the Suns from a legit title contender to a Lottery team in a little more than a year, he’s probably not the guy to get the Suns to that championship podium.