Steve Kerr was the general manager when the Phoenix Suns reached the Western Conference Finals in 2010, though he left the post soon after.
He has not had a hand in the team’s efforts since then, which include completely remaking the roster and missing the playoffs three straight years. And while he knows the best way for the team to improve is through the draft, he’s not ready to say fans should be rooting against wins and for losses.
“That’s always a tough one,” he told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Friday. “You don’t want to tank; you want to see life.”
Kerr suggested it might be best “to lose close games,” providing hope but not wins that will hurt the team’s draft position.
Then again, the Suns have kind of done that lately.
At 20-39 Phoenix is tied for the fourth-worst record in the NBA, but close wins over the Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs allowed the New Orleans Hornets and Sacramento Kings to “catch” them in the standings.
The trick is, though, you cannot expect a coaching staff or players to try and lose, which is why they have not gone away from veterans like Jermaine O’Neal, who has been playing well lately, in favor of unproven or even struggling young players.
“I think the Suns are still trying to win games,” Kerr said. “You’ve got a new coach there in Lindsey Hunter who wants to make his mark; there’s a competitive nature in all of us in this league where you hate to just say ‘Hey we’re going to lay down.’
“The other thing is there’s no Anthony Davis in this draft, so it’s not like drafting sixth is going to be that much different from three in all probability.”
A recent two-game win streak notwithstanding, the Suns are still likely to find themselves drafting higher than they have in quite some time. And if they can do that while remaining somewhat competitive and creating the right culture and mentality, then that would be ideal.
“I think the Suns are doing it the right way,” Kerr added. “Keep playing hard but give your young guys a chance, see what they have and just kind of see where the chips fall.”