Steve's Shocker

A look at why Steve Kerr is no longer the GM of the Phoenix Suns

I am really proud I used the word shocker in a title of an article. Those as immature as myself understand why.  For those who don't like to act like they're 15 years old, here is why. Warning, if you click on that link, you will read something that is sexually crude.

Back to the real topic of the column.

Something just didn't feel right Tuesday hearing Steve Kerr announce he would not return as Phoenix Suns General Manager.

Kerr built a team which was two games away from advancing to the NBA Finals. The Suns were a box out away from having a chance to play five minutes for the right to go up 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals with Game 6 at home.

And Kerr wants to walk away from this? 

The five-time NBA champion at his press conference repeatedly stated he was leaving because he wanted to spend more time with his family and he is on great terms with the Suns. I believe Kerr; I bet these were important factors in his decision.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Johnny Ludden from Yahoo! Sports reported Suns Owner Robert Sarver wanted Kerr to eat a 10 percent pay cut.

ESPN.com's Ric Bucher reported Kerr had concerns about Sarver spending money. 

Both of these make sense, but it has to be something bigger. Kerr and Sarver could have came to agreement on money if they really wanted to, and I don't believe Sarver would let the Suns' payroll drop below the middle of the pack. These are issues, but not deal-breaking issues.

My theory: Steve Kerr and Robert Sarver didn't see eye to eye on the Suns' biggest off-season issue, Amar'e Stoudemire. 

There are two directions we can go:

No.1: Steve Kerr doesn't want to give Stoudemire a contract for more than three or four years. He thinks STAT's knee and eye are long-term concerns and are not worth the risk. Sarver believes the short-term success is worth the long-term risk. 

No. 2: Flip the script. Kerr wants to give in to Amar'e's contract demands and award him the five- or six-year max money contract. Sarver doesn't want to dish out the money and would rather pull a sign-and-trade or just let Amar'e walk. 

At Kerr's "celebration" press conference, I asked him if he was on the same page as the Suns owner regarding Stoudemire's contract situation.

"We are 100 percent in agreement of where this team needs to go, what we would like to do," said Kerr. "You can't always execute the plan; you try do it, and I think the vision is pretty clear."

So despite my belief, Kerr denied my theory. 

But even after hearing Kerr say it, something just didn't seem right.

Looking back, he did a terrific job as general manager.

Kerr's worst two moves as GM were trading for Shaq and hiring Terry Porter. A credit does need to go to Robert Sarver here; most owners can the GM after high-profile decisions back fire. Sarver stuck by Kerr. Steve righted these moves by trading Shaq (addition by subtraction) and firing Porter, grouped with hiring Alvin Gentry

The rest of Kerr's personnel decisions were spot on. Drafting Goran Dragic was a home run, Robin Lopez was a solid addition to the team, and Alando Tucker stinks ... sorry, I guess he had one more miss. Kerr gave Channing Frye a chance to resurrect his career and found Lou Amundson after Philly and Utah both let him leave town. He was able to get Steve Nash to sign a contract extension at well below market value. Kerr's best move of them all was acquiring Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley for Boris Diaw and Raja Bell, which turned out to be a one-sided trade.  

One hell of a resume. 

Suns Owner Robert Sarver should have been doing anything in his power to keep Steve Kerr. Whether he low-balled him or not, it is outrageous Sarver didn't offer to make Kerr a top 10 paid General Manager. 

This is the way Kerr's contract needed to be approached. 

The reason it wasn't? I don't have the answer and we will probably never truly find out.

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