Porter to become Suns' next head coach

Updated: June 9, 2008, 10:24 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Phoenix Suns have turned to Terry Porter to lead their team back to the NBA Finals.

As first reported by ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on Saturday morning, the Suns have hired Porter as coach, ending the club's monthlong search for a successor to Mike D'Antoni.

Suns general manager Steve Kerr called Porter on Saturday morning to offer him the job, and Porter accepted. He will be introduced at a Monday news conference (2 p.m. ET).

Porter coached the Milwaukee Bucks for two seasons and was an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons this season.

The 45-year-old Porter played in the NBA for 17 seasons, mostly with Portland, and was a teammate of Kerr's in San Antonio.

"He's got a great combination of leadership skills," Kerr said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "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 was interviewed twice, most recently on Monday. He is expected to sign a three-year deal worth about $7 million.

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

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As far as Terry Porter's 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, writes John Hollinger. Blog Insider
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The Suns had been searching for a head coach since D'Antoni resigned to lead the New York Knicks. Other candidates included Houston Rockets assistant Elston Turner, Utah Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin and former NBA player and TV analyst Mark Jackson.

"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 Flip Saunders' lead assistant in Detroit the past two seasons. He went 71-93 (.433) from 2003-05 as coach of Milwaukee and the Bucks made the playoffs in his first year.

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

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.

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.

His coaching career started as a Sacramento Kings assistant in 2002.

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

Information from ESPN reporter Stephen A. Smith and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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