No way in hell.
Ok, getting a bit ahead of myself there, perhaps a brief explanation is necessary.
The premier Phoenix Suns blog, Bright Side of the Sun is convening a vaunted ‘Star Chamber‘ to decide what should be the fate of the coach of the Phoenix Suns, Mike D’Antoni (if you have time &/or inclination, head over there and have your say!!!).
As reported all around the internet, Jack McCallum has D’Antoni done and already riding off into the setting sun… and Blogfrica is split on whether that’s a good or a bad thing.
Does D’Antoni deserve to go?
Which brings me back to my original statement:
No way in hell.
Quite frankly, I’m stunned that it’s even being considered, much less considered fait accompli. D’Antoni is simply one of the better basketball minds out there in the NBA, and for the Phoenix Suns, it is clearly going to be a case of “you-don’t-know-what-you-had-until-it’s-gone”.
Other NBA franchises are salivating at the opportunity… the mere possibility to hold that press conference to state
“We’d like to introduce you to the man who’s going to take the [insert franchise name] to the next level. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Coach Mike D’Antoni – coach of the [insert franchise name]!”
I’m simply amazed that a guy who has as much basketball nous as Suns GM Steve Kerr is purportedly in possession of, cannot grasp what a basketball mind they have in D’Antoni. Yes, there should be personnel changes in Phoenix, but Mike D’Antoni isn’t one of them.
How highly do I regard D’Antoni?
Let me tell you: As a Lakers fan, I am of the opinion that the best coach in all of basketball currently works for the franchise I support: Phil Jackson.
Gregg Popovich is only a hair below, and Jerry Sloan too.
Beyond that, there aren’t many even in view of that plateau. But Mike D’Antoni is. Byron Scott could well be held in the same regard sometime soon.
If Phil retired, and the Lakers got D’Antoni, I would not be disappointed.
So… why is Mike D’Antoni being pushed forward to the guillotine in Phoenix?
Pure and simple, it all comes down to not being able to get past the San Antonio Spurs. Paint it however you want, but that is the crux of the argument.
2005, in the Conference FInals the Spurs beat the Suns in 5.
2006, it’s the Mavs who beat them in 6 at the same stage.
2007 and it’s the Spurs again, this time in the Conference Semi-finals – Spurs win in 6.
2008, first round of the playoffs – guess who? San Antonio. Result: Suns out in 5.
This year, game 1 of the series Tim Duncan hits a 3 point shot to win the game. That’s what it came down to. Give him 10 chances, and he doesn’t even hit the rim on 9. But he wins that game on the back of his 3 point shot. Give that game to the Suns, and the series might well have gone a completely opposite direction.
Last year, even more contentious. But for a hard foul on Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire & Boris Diaw don’t get suspended… and it’s a completely different result. The Suns probably take the series, and is there any doubt they would’ve easily accounted for Cleveland?
“Ladies & Gentlemen, your 2007 NBA Champion Phoenix Suns!”
The most amazing thing about the brouhaha that bubbled over post the NBA Commissioner’s decision to suspend Stoudemire/Diaw is that David Stern has basically admitted that last year he got it wrong.
With the refusal to suspend either Kendrick Perkins or Marvin Williams for exactly the same offense, it’s tantamount to an admission of “oops” for the penalties the two Suns got the year before.
And that’s completely ignoring the star-treatment that Kevin Garnett got – pushing a referee (ok, mitigating circumstances), and getting off with merely a fine?
Wow… if I were a Suns fan, I’d be livid over this.
But it beggars belief that the Suns will hold D’Antoni responsible for a) Tim Duncan hitting a 3 point shot, and b) David Stern’s error in judgment…
Yes, I know. People will point to the Shaq trade & how D’Antoni was supposedly behind it. I call BS on that. D’Antoni has always striven to play a high-octane offense, and supposedly he makes a move to get perhaps the slowest center in the game today? I mean, seriously: does any other center fit less into the Suns game scheme than Shaquille O’Neal???
Changing an entire offensive philosophy mid-season is never a good game-plan… But we’re expected to believe it was Mike D’Antoni’s idea?
And it’s worth remembering where the Suns where situated prior to the O’Neal trade: 1st in the Western Conference. Yet,
Ok… suspend belief for a bit. Work on the somewhat-negligent assumption that D’Antoni did suggest it. Both GM Steve Kerr, or owner Robert Sarver could always have said ‘no’. But neither did. Matter o’ fact, both leapt at it.
Add to Sarver’s side of the ledger that it’s entirely his fault that they have no draft picks, no youth.
So where to from here?
Firstly, that roster.
Acknowledge that despite having come oh-so-close in the past few years, this roster is fast getting older, and probably doesn’t have what it takes to compete at the elite level the top of the Western Conference demands.
So, blow it up.
Anyone not named Amare Stoudemire, Boris Diaw or Leandro Barbosa (worth noting they were all born in 1982) is up for trade. And yes, that includes Steve Nash. And O’Neal, tho’ it’s unlikely you are able to move him.
But the last thing the Phoenix Suns should do is bid adieu to the one guy who is probably the best coach coaching in the NBA not named Jackson or Popovich.
Hell, I acknowledge that even in light of the obvious, it’s probably going to happen.
And as a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, for this… from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.