Writers' Roundtable (cont.)
3. What do you make of the Suns' decision to fire coach Terry Porter, replace him with Alvin Gentry and then stand pat at the trade deadline?
Ian Thomsen: They couldn't stand to continue underachieving without changing something. When they realized the market for Amar'e Stoudemire wouldn't yield equal value in return, they decided to change the coach instead. The fairest thing to say about the Suns is that owner Robert Sarver and GM Steve Kerr are having to deal with these kinds of situation for the first time. They're learning the hard way the limits of their office. For instance, when they slowed the pace they were aiding opponents who have rarely been able to limit Steve Nash's brilliance in the open court -- which Kerr accomplished by installing Porter. The question for Sarver and Kerr is whether they're learning from the moves they've made over the last year. Is this the experience Kerr needs in order to be great at the job someday? So many young GMs make mistakes early in their tenures, but then they turn into the Danny Ainge or the Danny Ferry that we know today. (Or maybe every GM should be named Danny.)
Jack McCallum: Why, it all seems incredibly logical. Get rid of an offensive coach because he can't coach defense, hire a defensive coach, then fire the defensive coach because he's not a good offensive coach. Make decisions based on money, then stand pat on deadline day even though there were chances to dump Shaq's giant contract. Honestly, the only thing that made sense was, once the Porter move was made, promoting Gentry, a well-liked and able coach who will have the ear of this ninth-place team if it stays within striking distance of the playoffs.
Chris Mannix: Asking Nash to run a controlled offense is like asking Nolan Ryan to throw junk. Shouldn't happen. While I disagreed with the Suns' decision to fire Porter -- four months is nowhere near enough time to give a coach who is trying (at the front office's requests) to revamp the team's style of play -- they made the right move in bringing back D'Antoni's up-tempo offense, which is most effective when Stoudemire is a part of it. Even with the news that Amar'e might miss the rest of the season, the Suns did the right thing in keeping their 26-year-old power forward and returning to a system that maximizes his strengths.
Steve Aschburner: Gentry was available -- already in house -- from the start, so if he's the answer as head coach, the $6 million paid out to Porter is going to dwarf, as a mistake, whatever savings Sarver and his administrator Kerr realize from various draft picks and legitimate prospects they dumped. Not trading Stoudemire made sense simply because he wasn't worth to other teams -- as evidenced by their offers -- what he still can be worth to the Suns. I doubt there's any psychic cost to dangling Shaq; he tends to beat teams out the door, mentally. I don't see him retiring as a Sun.
4. Put yourself in the shoes of Tyson Chandler, who is rejoining New Orleans after his trade to Oklahoma City was rescinded. How would you feel about recommitting to a team that wanted to get rid of you?
Ian Thomsen: I'd look around the locker room and wonder who is going to be traded instead. because somebody has to go. The Hornets cannot afford to pay the luxury tax next season. I feel no sympathy for Chandler in this situation (and to his credit, I don't think he's asking for sympathy). He is making $11.4 million this year on a contract that is guaranteed for another two years. He is going to receive all of that money at a time when a lot of American families are unemployed and businesses are shutting down through no fault of their own. If the price of an NBA player's enormous financial security is that he may be transferred to another city from time to time, then that is a very small price to pay compared to what the rest of the country is facing.
Jack McCallum: OK, I'm there. (I know I'm there because my shoes feel big.) The way I feel is angry. I was touted as part of something special. It was fun last season being among the Western Conference elite and having the city and franchise really get behind us. OK, maybe I wasn't playing up to par this season, but a lot of other guys (Chris Paul excluded) weren't either. There was still time to straighten it out. But I will pretend I'm happy and continue making comments that I already made such as, "I don't play for management anyway or play for any owners or anything like that, I play for my teammates, my coaching staff and the fans of New Orleans."
Chris Mannix: Chandler is in a unique situation. His team didn't want to trade him. The Hornets knew, even if they refused to acknowledge it publicly, that they weren't getting equal value in return. This was a deal driven by finances. Chandler has to understand that. He's coming back to a team that loves him and a system that takes advantage of his best skills. I don't think there will be any lingering animosity between Chandler and the Hornets. The anger could be directed at the Oklahoma City doctors who flunked Chandler on his physical. They better hope that the toe injury becomes an issue for Chandler in the next few years. Otherwise, they will have ruined an opportunity for the Thunder to add a significant building block to a fast-rising team.
Steve Aschburner: Recent surveys show that in this current economic plight, U.S. employers would like to get rid of approximately 67 percent of their workers, so let's put it this way: Welcome to our club, Tyson! Actually, I just made up that statistic, but I would look on the bright side if I were Chandler. He gets to continue living in New Orleans, with its world-class cuisine and music. He's able to keep playing with Paul, the point guard of choice for any NBA big man. And, whether his toe limits his availability or not, Chandler still has a contract that will pay him $24.6 million through 2010-11. Should he choose to skip the first two reasons, that third one ought to be a balm to his feelings.
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