Phoenix Suns hire Terry Porter as coach

Updated: June 7, 2008, 9:15 PM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Terry Porter will be the Phoenix Suns' next coach, ending the club's monthlong search for a successor to Mike D'Antoni.

Phoenix general manager Steve Kerr said Saturday he had agreed to terms with Porter, who was an assistant with the Detroit Pistons.

The 45-year-old Porter played in the NBA for 17 seasons and teamed with Kerr in San Antonio.

"He's got a great combination of leadership skills," Kerr said in a telephone interview. "He's a great communicator. And his coaching experience, two years as a head coach, is important to me. The fact that he's sat in that chair, that was a key factor. He's very tough-minded."

Porter is expected to sign a three-year deal worth about $7 million, and he likely will be introduced at a news conference early next week. His hiring was first reported by ESPN.

"I'm very excited," Porter said in a telephone interview. "I'm looking forward to getting started."

Porter emerged from an extensive list of candidates interviewed by the Suns. Last week, Kerr said the list had been pared to four -- Porter and assistants Elston Turner of Houston, Tyrone Corbin of Utah and Mike Budenholzer of San Antonio.

"We interviewed some great candidates, and we wanted to take our time and make sure we made the right choice," Kerr said. "He's the right guy, and I'm glad to have him on board."

Porter was the only one of the final four with head coaching experience, leading the Milwaukee Bucks. He went 71-93 (.433) from 2003-05, and the Bucks made the playoffs in his first year.

"I knew obviously I had a strong resume," Porter said.

Porter will become the Suns' seventh coach since 1993, when they made their last NBA Finals appearance.

Porter inherits a talented but aging roster that features former MVPs Steve Nash and Shaquille O'Neal, along one of the league's best front-line players in Amare Stoudemire.

The Suns job opened up last month when D'Antoni left to sign with the New York Knicks. Under D'Antoni, the Suns played an entertaining, uptempo style and had four highly successful regular seasons. But the team never made it past the conference finals.

After the Suns were eliminated in the first round by San Antonio this year, D'Antoni decided to leave rather than make some changes that Kerr reportedly wanted, including more emphasis on defense.

Once D'Antoni left, Kerr embarked on a deliberate national search for a successor, working with owner Robert Sarver and vice president for basketball operations David Griffin.

From the start, Porter was viewed as a front-runner because of his long relationship with Kerr. They played together in San Antonio from 1999-2001,

Porter, a native of Milwaukee, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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