One of the best parts of “The Departed” is Alec Baldwin. He’s hilarious. And one of my favorite exchanges is when he asks Matt Damon, “Qui bono? Who benefits?” and Damon responds, “Qui gives a shit?” Ha. Good stuff. Anyway, I was thinking of that exchange when I was reading this Bright Side of the Sun post about Steve Kerr’s history. Taking a look at his moves so far makes it pretty obvious I think, qui bono from Kerr’s trades/personnel moves. Check it:
Qui bono? Well, there are two here: the TrailBlazers (one of Kerr’s former teams) and Sarver’s wallet. Really, Suns? You keep two draft picks and they’re DJ Strawberry and Alando Tucker? Ugh.
2007 FA Signings
Qui bono? Ok, so the Suns were the beneficiaries here…but I think that was sort of by accident. Marks and Skinner, Blah 1 and Blah 2, right? But Grant Hill? Who knew that he was going to suddenly burst forth from his nearly decade-long funk and become a useful NBA player again? Nobody. He was supposed to be Blah 3.
- Traded Kurt Thomas and 2008, 2010 1st round draft picksto Seattle (OKC) for future second round pick and cash
Qui bono? The popular answer is, again, Sarver’s wallet. And that’s certainly true. But the real beneficiary was the San Antonio Spurs (Huh, another of Kerr’s former teams). They promptly snapped up Kurt Thomas and he was a key rotation player for them over the next couple of seasons.
- Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks for Shaquille O’Neal
- Signed Gordon Giricek
- Hired Terry Porter as head coach
Qui bono? Ok, first of all, the hiring of Terry Porter came as a result of forcing D’Antoni out. Let’s not ignore that salient detail. But ignoring the Giricek signing, the primary beneficiary here was Shaq. He had decided he hated being in Miami and wanted out. He was starting to get the owies that come from weighing a sixth of a ton. So he comes to PHX to get healthy. The Suns give away one of their best players and even though it didn’t work out, Shaq doesn’t have to look bad because it was the system that didn’t work, not him. Sure, Kerr looks like a dumbass, but he doesn’t mind. See, it’s all part of the plan. But we’ll get to that. And Terry Porter…well, we’ll get to that too.
Qui bono? The Suns, somehow. Apparently Lopez is going to be a useful NBA player. Kerr is as surprised as you.
2008 FA Signings
Qui bono? The Suns. Barnes was serviceable, people dig on Lou. But they’re cheap, meh, throwaway signings.
- Traded San Antonio for draft rights to Goran Dragic in exchange for Malik Hairston
- Traded DJ Strawberry to Rockets for Sean Singletary
- Signed Goran Dragic
- Raja Bell, Sean Singletary, Boris Diaw traded to Charlotte for Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and a 2010 second round pick
Qui bono? The Suns again luck out, as Dragic is really starting to come on in his second year. And the trade for Richardson? Well, he’s played fairly well, but he seems to be getting old (and thus declining) sooner rather than later. Dudley was filler to make the salaries match, but has played really surprisingly well this year. Lucky.
- Fired Terry Porter, named Alvin Gentry head coach
- Signed Strowmile [sic] Swift
Qui bono? Well, obviously, the Suns. Porter was the wrong choice (just as forcing D’Antoni out was a terrible decision [if you care about the Suns' success]). Stromile Swift? Whatever.
- Signed Channing Frye
- Re-Signed Grant Hill
- Extended Steve Nash
- Signed Jarron Collins
Qui bono? The Suns, but again, quite by accident. Unless you really think that Kerr had some sort of vision that Channing was going to come in and shoot the lights out. I don’t. Hill and Nash were no-alternative situations, so let’s not call that a Kerr success. Collins = roster filler. (When I lived in Minneapolis, I was walking home one night and I saw Jason Collins walking into a restaurant. I knew it was him because, well, it was him. But if I was somebody who didn’t know who Jason Collins is [and sometimes I wish I was], I would know he was somebody for sure. Because he was wearing his T-Wolves warm-ups. To the bar. That smacks of desperation, doesn’t it? You’re already a 7-foot tall black guy. Do you need to make sure people know you’re an NBAer? I’m pretty sure they’d figure it out.)
Qui bono? Qui knows? Clark should be good…but certainly hasn’t been much so far. Taylor Griffin? Ugh. Apparently Kerr’s trying to corner the market on guys who have brothers who play in the NBA also.
- Traded Alando Tucker, a second round pick and cash to Minnesota for Jason Hart (waived)
- Signed Jarron Collins for the rest of the season
Qui bono? Um, nobody? Pile of puke and…pile of puke. Oh, but I suppose the Tucker deal somehow helped Sarver’s wallet.
So let’s see…the primary beneficiaries of Kerr’s moves as Suns GM? I see three: the TrailBlazers, the Spurs, and the Lakers. See, the Blazers got the gift of Rudy Fernandez and now have Terry Porter working for them for free (since the Suns are still paying him). The Spurs got Kurt Thomas and a steadily weaker Suns team (after they were developing quite the rivalry). The Lakers got a weaker primary divisional rival (and Phil’s old buddy Shaq got a helping hand). Hm, that’s weird. Kerr has done an awful lot to help out the coaches with whom he won several championships (Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich) and has given an assist to the team with whom he went to the playoff (Portland).
Now, I know you’re thinking, “But he’s made good moves, too! Um, a couple times!” Well, sure. Because it wouldn’t work if a mole made only bad moves. You have to mix up the good and bad moves to allay suspicion and make it seem like you’re actually doing your job. And it’s a perfect situation because his owner has a (much-deserved) reputation as a cheap-ass. So he can just make it look like money was a motivator in those lopsided trades. But when you look at his moves as a whole, there is clearly one motivation: the systematic weakening of the Phoenix Suns for the benefit of his old cronies.
Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but I think you know, in your heart of hearts, that I’m right. And hey–I guess the proof will come real soon. The Suns (apparently) have two possible trade partners for Amar’e. One (Miami) can offer tons of cap relief (enough to get well under next year’s cap and make a play for a big-time free agent this summer) as well as a potentially great young player. The other can offer moderate cap relief, maybe enough to get under the luxury tax, and a potentially useful young player. That team? Well, that would be the Cleveland Cavaliers, who just happened to be Steve Kerr’s team for three seasons from 1989-92.