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The Daily Wildcat

 

Kerr quieting critics with winning season

Phoenix Suns General Manager Steve Kerr and coach Mike DAntoni take questions during a press conference on the trade that will bring Shaquille ONeal to the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix, Arizona, Wednesday, February 6, 2008. (Ralph Freso/East Valley Tribune/MCT)
Phoenix Suns General Manager Steve Kerr and coach Mike D’Antoni take questions during a press conference on the trade that will bring Shaquille O’Neal to the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix, Arizona, Wednesday, February 6, 2008. (Ralph Freso/East Valley Tribune/MCT)

PHOENIX — Looking back almost a year, Suns general manager and former Arizona Wildcat Steve Kerr’s career was seemingly at risk of spiraling down the drain.

But today, Kerr is riding high with returned success, just another example that winning cures all ills.

“”In this business, it’s fun if you win, it’s brutal if you lose,”” Kerr said. “”It’s been a fun year. The guys are all together and (head coach) Alvin (Gentry)’s done a great job with them.

“”Fans are really appreciative of our team,”” he added. “”It’s all come together.””

In his first year after taking over as general manager, the Suns missed the playoffs and questions remained about the team’s future with point guard Steve Nash aging and All-Star forward Amar’e Stoudemire nearing the end of his contract.

Friends and fellow NBA general managers like Danny Ferry of the Cleveland Cavaliers and John Paxson of the Chicago Bulls had warned Kerr of the rigors of manning an NBA organization.

“”All my friend GMs told me I was nuts, and they were right,”” Kerr said of taking the position in Phoenix. “”You never really know until you step in it. They all warned me of the stress and the workload. Until I actually went through it, especially last year with the stress involved, I couldn’t have really imagined.””

Flash back to Wednesday night, when the Suns secured  the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The team’s success has quieted critics who began talking as if Kerr’s termination was imminent. Arizona Republic columnist Dan Bickley even predicted the end of Kerr’s career in a column preceding the 2009 NBA Draft, saying it would be Kerr’s last.

Whether the criticism was warranted, the former Arizona guard admitted the second year has been much smoother, partially thanks to the team’s success.

Now in his second go-around, Kerr said he’s finally grasped running the team, from working with top management down to the players.

“”I think that I have really strong relationships with all the key people in the organization now,”” he said. “”When you first come on board you don’t know people that well and you’re not sure what buttons to push all the time. I’m just really, really stronger, just in terms of my grasp of the organization and who’s doing what and what people need.

“”I think people are more comfortable with me, too,”” he added.

As evidence, see a strong understanding and relationship with Gentry to make two changes to take the 2009-10 Suns back to the playoffs: develop a bench and become a proficient defensive team.

“”We had a dysfunctional year last year and won 46 games,”” Kerr said. “”We felt like from a chemistry standpoint we’d make a lot of improvement.””

“”It’s all kind of clicked.””

With a contract extending through the end of this season, Kerr has yet to discuss his future. Right now, he can only focus on the Suns’ upcoming playoff run.

“”I’ve grown comfortable with the job,”” Kerr said. “”I have a lot of really strong relationships here now (that) it’d be tough to break away from. I anticipate coming back but we’ll see.””

Kerr on …

The Suns chance at drafting Arizona forward and current Houston Rockets rookie Chase Budinger in the 2009 draft:

“”I’ve taken a lot of grief from my coaches about not drafting him. We (were) at 14(th pick); we had Chase 20th on our board. When Chase started to drop — I think we picked around 48th — we were shocked that he was dropping. We thought he’d be gone by the second round. We tried to trade up in the second round to get him, and Houston ended up getting him.””

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