Q&A with Seth Pollack about Steve Kerr: What can we learn about him from his tenure as Phoenix Suns GM?

Kevork Djansezian

Although Steve Kerr doesn't have a coaching resume to speak of, he does have a track record as GM of the Phoenix Suns. So today we ask someone who covered Kerr's Suns for insight on how he managed that team and how well he did there overall.

So, we don't know much about how Steve Kerr will perform as a NBA head coach because he's never coached anywhere.

And, similar to Mark Jackson, we probably won't even get a full sense of who he is as a coach until a couple years down the line if in fact the Golden State Warriors do hire him for the job.

However, Kerr has worked for a NBA team before as general manager of the Phoenix Suns from 2007-2010 - although that experience as a GM certainly doesn't directly translate to how he'd perform as a coach, what might we be able to take from his time there to learn about how he might function within an organization as coach?

While we can all speculate about those things, SB Nation-NBA league manager Seth Pollack actually did meet Kerr while covering the Suns for SB Nation's Bright Side of the Sun and I thought he might be a good person to offer some insight about who Kerr is and how we worked within that organization.

Seth was gracious enough to answer a few questions and even if this doesn't persuade you one way or the other about Kerr as a coach, his story about how Kerr introduced himself might give you a chuckle.

Q&A about Steve Kerr, Phoenix Suns GM

1. GSoM: Was there ever any indication during Kerr's time at Phoenix that he would eventually become a coach?

Seth Pollack: Nope. I seem to recall hearing that he wanted to coach and not be GM again for his next job but I believe I heard that like a year or two after he left.

2. GSoM: Kerr has apparently gained recognition for his thoroughness in studying film and work ethic in preparing for games, but given his moves as a GM and the team he put together what, if anything, should excite Warriors fans about his basketball philosophy?

SP: He is? I mean I'm not really surprised about the work ethic thing, I guess, but film study specifically is news to me. That doesn't mean it's not true. It just wasn't something I recall hearing about him.

What really stood out most about his time as GM was how seamlessly he integrated everyone. You really got the sense the entire system from the guy who washed the socks, to Steve Nash and Grant Hill, to Alvin Gentry and his staff and on through to the scouting and front office operations were all on the same page and genuinely liked and respected each other. They were a tight group and people loved working for Kerr. That's a big deal.

3. GSoM: You had a Steve Kerr moron meter at BSotS back during Kerr's tenure to track the ups and downs of what he did. Looking back at the job he did, what were his biggest errors of judgment in putting together that roster?

SP: Ha! That was a great thing and I'll never forget Kerr coming up to me at a Suns practice and giving me good-natured shit about it. It was the first time I had direct acknowledgement that someone important on the team was reading our site and appreciated the work we did. Hell, I was shocked he knew who I was (this was like 2009 I think).

The biggest error was the one that kicked off the Steve Kerr Moron Meter: The Shaq Trade. After the trade he basically said I'll either be a genius or a moron for making this deal. Since I hated the trade at the time, I took that statement and ran with it and created the meter to judge all his subsequent moves. It's fun as hell to look back at that now.

In the end, he had 13 "Moron" points and 9 "Genius" points. That clearly reflects my poor judgement more than it does his since he took the team to the conference finals in his third year and if Robin Lopez hadn't hurt his back in March that group could have beaten the Lakers and gone to the Finals and beaten the Celtics. Right?!?

So, back to your question: The Marion for Shaq trade was a mistake. To Kerr's credit, he was the last one to sign off on it. D'Antoni and Sarver were on board and Kerr, a new GM, went along with it. I didn't like when he traded Raja Bell and Boris Diaw for Jason Richardson in December 2008. I thought at the time it was a panic move but I guess it worked out OK. The second legit big mistake was hiring Terry Porter to replace Mike D'Antoni. Porter was a disaster as a coach but to Kerr's credit he canned him just after the All-Star break. How many new-ish GMs would fire the coach they picked during their first season? That took balls.

Other than that, he did well with his draft picks (Robin Lopez and especially Goran Dragic) and the Earl Clark pick made sense at the time and Kerr always called it a high risk / high reward selection.

4. GSoM: Overall, knowing what you know about Kerr - which is probably more than most of us at GSoM - would you be confident if your team hired him as coach?

SP: I've been thinking a lot about this over the past few weeks since the Knicks rumors started. I really don't have a good answer. I like Steve Kerr and respect his basketball sense. He's shown me he can build a team of people working together for the same goal which is a big part of coaching. I would be worried about him running a team at this level for the first time but we've seen that work alright for Hornacek and Kidd so why couldn't work for another smart ex-guard. I could see some rosters where he might not be a good fit but I don't really think that's an issue with the Warriors. From what I know about his basketball philosophy, it's a better job for him than New York. Especially if Phil Jackson wants to run the Triangle. He's also a west coast guy at heart. So overall, I'd be cautiously optimistic.

Of course, the biggest concern with whoever takes that job is how they deal with your meddling owner. Kerr did well managing Sarver and getting him to back off so he has some experience there but ultimately, Lacob is a bigger wildcard from what I can tell. You guys know better than I do about that.

Thanks to Seth for being a good sport. For more about the Warriors' coaching candidates, check out our storystream.

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