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Saturday, June 7, 2008
Suns taking chance on Porter

The Suns wanted a coach who would preach more defense and hold the stars more accountable. Is Terry Porter the guy?

Obviously, Steve Kerr thinks so, and certainly it's great to see Porter get a plum job after his bizarre, two-months-after-the-season firing from Milwaukee in 2005.

But as far as his track record is concerned, the results are a mixed bag. Porter's two seasons at the helm of the Bucks are his entire body of work thus far, and let's just say they're open to interpretation.

Certainly it was impressive that he made the playoffs and took a game off eventual champion Detroit in the first round in his first year on the job, given that he had a pretty mediocre cast to work with. However, in his second season Milwaukee faltered to 30 wins, which is why the Bucks decided to change directions once they'd had a few weeks to sleep on it.

Common to both seasons was Milwaukee's inability to defend. The Bucks ranked 23rd in defensive efficiency in his first season and 28th in his second, which isn't quite the track record you want from a coach who's supposed to improve the defense.

But if you compare his results to those of Milwaukee's other coaches, a different picture emerges. The Bucks were 28th in defensive efficiency the year before he arrived and 23rd the year after he left -- in other words, his results weren't worse than anyone else's with this gang. Milwaukee has been trying to improve the defense since the George Karl era and have burned through four coaches in search of a solution.

It's a gutsy move by Kerr considering proven commodities like Avery Johnson and Flip Saunders were available. In a few months we'll start learning if it was the right one.