Kerr looking to tweak Suns after hiring made official
"I'm going to shop [Steve] Nash immediately," he said, bringing a roar of laughter from the media and team officials attending his introductory news conference at U.S. Airways Center on Wednesday.
When the laughter subsided, Kerr said he plans to tweak the Suns, not tear them apart.
"We've had a great team for three years," said Kerr, who agreed to a three-year contract. "This is not something that needs an overhaul."
The 41-year-old Kerr will take the general manager duties from coach Mike D'Antoni, who had added the responsibilities after Bryan Colangelo left for Toronto in February 2006.
"This is the best of all things that could happen for me," D'Antoni said.
Kerr's hiring was made official Wednesday. But it has been in the works since managing partner Robert Sarver bought the club three years ago.
Sarver had University of Arizona season tickets when Kerr helped lead the Wildcats to their first Final Four in 1988. When Sarver was looking into buying the Suns, Arizona coach Lute Olson introduced him to Kerr, who helped make introductions within the NBA and eventually became an investor in Sarver's group.
"This wasn't a case where I'm coming in cold turkey and trying to figure out what's going on," Kerr said. "I know pretty well what's going on, and I'm very comfortable with it. I love the style of play. I love Mike's coaching abilities. I love the players. It's an incredibly talented group."
The Suns have two first-round picks and a second-rounder in the upcoming NBA draft, and Kerr said "we anticipate using those picks."
Kerr spent 15 seasons as a guard in the NBA, winning three titles with the Chicago Bulls and two more with the San Antonio Spurs. Kerr, who retired as a player in 2003, holds the record for career 3-point field-goal percentage (.454, 726-of-1,599).
Kerr has spent the last four years as a television analyst. But Sarver said Kerr's lack of front-office experience won't slow him.
"Steve has been successful at everything he's done," Sarver said. "He's a winner. He's a champion."
Kerr said he expects to rely heavily on David Griffin, who on Wednesday added the word "senior" to his title of vice president of basketball operations. Griffin, a Phoenix native who has been with the club since 1993, recently turned down an offer to become general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Kerr called the Suns "very, very close to a championship but not quite there. One of the things that was really attractive to me about the job was the fact that I'm not coming in and trying to rebuild something that's on the ground."
D'Antoni said he didn't expect Kerr to change the Suns' up-tempo style, which has made them popular among fans but has yet to produce an NBA title.
"It would have been changed a long time ago if he didn't like it," D'Antoni said.
Kerr's wife, Margot, and their three children will remain in the family's home in San Diego. He said he'll have a home in Phoenix and spend "the majority" of his time there.
"We've moved so often, it's difficult to bounce everybody around," Kerr said. "We just felt like this is probably best, to keep them there. Obviously, the proximity from San Diego to Phoenix makes it feasible."
For Kerr, the general manager job completes a journey that began in 1988, when the Suns drafted him in the second round, 50th overall.
"I was thinking this morning on my way over here -- 19 years ago I was drafted by Jerry [Colangelo] and Cotton Fitzsimmons and brought up the road from the U of A," Kerr said. "I don't know that I ever would have thought I would be sitting in this chair back then."
Kerr averaged 2.1 points in 26 games with Phoenix in 1988-89.
"I hope I can make a little more of an impact than I did in my 26-game stint with the Suns 19 years ago," he said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press