Pistons lead assistant Terry Porter met with Phoenix Suns general manager Steve Kerr Thursday in Birmingham.
Porter, the former Milwaukee Bucks head coach, is the first candidate to formally interview for the Suns' head coaching vacancy.
Porter and Kerr were teammates in San Antonio in the 1999-2000 season.
The fact that Porter and Kerr were teammates might lead some to think this was a courtesy interview, much like how Isiah Thomas "interviewed" Bill Laimbeer for the Knicks job in 2005. But considering Kerr had to jump through at least two hoops to make this happen (asking permission from the Pistons as well as flying out to Michigan), I think it's safe to assume the Suns have genuine interest.
Bucks fans generally agree that Porter got a raw deal in Milwaukee, getting canned after just two years on the job despite advancing to the playoffs his first year. But that experience, as well as his last two years on the Pistons bench, can only help make him a better head coach the second time around.
Back in March, Henry Abbott asked Porter point-blank about his aspirations to be a head coach again and Porter artfully dodged a direct answer.
So, when are you going to be a head coach again?
Well, I don't know. I've been very blessed, you know, Flip [Saunders] and Joe [Dumars] have given me an opportunity to be a part of this organization and this team, and it's been great. Hopefully we can, you know, zero in on what we have to try to get done for this franchise first, and that's to get back to the Finals and try to win a championship. That's what this organization is all about. Joe has done a great job of putting together a roster and bringing Flip in and allowing me to come in and be a part of this staff. So I'm thankful for that, so right now, just zeroing in on just trying to get this team back The Finals.
Those other things as far as being a head coach, they will take care of themselves if we continue to play well and have success.
Some fans may be upset that the coaching staff isn't 100% committed to preparing for the Eastern Conference Finals, but the timing of this interview doesn't bother me one bit (and not just because the Pistons don't even know who they'll be facing yet). The coaching ladder should be a meritocracy, so assistants on winning teams should get the first crack at available jobs. It just seems wrong to penalize a guy's career prospects because he happens to be good at his job, which is helping his team play deep into the playoffs.
(That said, I'm curious if/how this affects Michael Curry. The Bulls are said to have interest in him, but the prevailing thought is that Detroit may deny Chicago an interview. If the Bulls do seek permission and are turned down, the rumors of Curry being groomed as Flip Saunders' heir apparent would appear to be true. Stay tuned.)