You almost have to wonder if Steve Kerr senses an iceberg straight ahead and wants to jump ship while he’s still looked upon as the genius who guided the Suns to a surprise Western Conference Finals appearance.
Something happened between season’s end and Tuesday that led Kerr to prefer the life of a broadcaster and family man to that of general manager of the Phoenix Suns.
The pessimist might conclude that he knows Robert Sarver won’t be a player in free agency and Kerr did not want to build a team through free agency this summer without the requisite resources. That potential happenstance won’t be confirmed or denied for another couple weeks, but as I wrote yesterday the Suns must fill this void ASAP to prevent instability in the front office from ruining the offseason (if Sarver’s checkbook won’t do that on its own).
I hypothesized last night that senior VP of basketball operations David Griffin would be a natural fit for a promotion, but The Arizona Republic has since reported that Griffin “would not apply and would not stay with the organization after his contract expires in two weeks. He is not expected to return to the Suns after working for them for 18 years.”
Griffin has been with the team so long that I was in the early stages of elementary school when he got his start with the organization, working his way up from an intern in the communications department all the way up to being Kerr’s right hand man who was very responsible for many of the big moves the organization has made the past few years.
It’s the dream of every Suns communications intern to one day be the guy calling the shots, and since Griffin loves this organization more than anything, becoming GM of the Suns had to have been his dream job at one point.
We’re also talking about a man who intimately knows everything that this organization is about and has been about, the last tie to the Jerry Colangelo era. I spent an enlightening 15 minutes with Griff at Media Day this season, and he even foreshadowed this crazy run to the West Finals.
After talking to him, I felt there was no doubt this team would be a major surprise. Griffin spoke of the Suns being in “a position to undersell and over deliver” (which they did) with a squad that could light up the scoreboard by putting “five legitimate, big-time three-point shooters” on the floor (counting Amare as a 20-foot shooter, they did). Griffin added, “I really believe the way the puzzle pieces fit, we should (score more), but that’s really a function of defensive rebounding (true, true and true).
I felt like transitioning from Kerr to Griffin wouldn’t be much of a transition. Griffin has played a major role in every big decision made since Bryan Colangelo left, and passing the baton to him would have kept things as business as usual as possible.
Instead the Suns will now have a lame duck assistant GM joining a lame duck GM at the draft (I think that confirms the fact that the Suns won’t be trading up; at least they can’t screw up the 46th and 60th selections too badly).
And critically they will be starting a GM search during the time they should be finalizing plans on making a full-fledged attempt at bringing Amare Stoudemire back or acquiring his replacement.
If a couple bounces had gone the other way (I’m looking at you, Artest), the Suns could be hosting Game 7 of the NBA Finals tonight against the Boston Celtics.
Instead the Suns are on the clock figuring out how to put their front office back together before the clock strikes midnight on the start of free agency.