Porter has a big task

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

The NBA's coaching carousel has all but ended with Mike Woodson the lone bench boss whose fate remains in limbo.

As of yesterday, Woodson was mulling a two-year extension to stay in Atlanta.

In total, eight teams will have new faces and new voices, a new beginning and, for some clubs, a much-needed change in direction.

No new coach will be under the microscope more than Terry Porter, who inherits a defensively poor Phoenix club after serving the past two season as an assistant in Detroit.

As a player, Porter was one of those pass-first point guards who played hard on every possession and at both ends of the floor. Smart and savvy, he was destined to become a coach.

Porter made an instant impact in his first coaching job in 2003-04 when, with Sam Mitchell as one of his assistants, he led the Milwaukee Bucks into the post-season.

"I will be hands-on when it comes to the defence," said Porter, who was fired after the following season. "When you talk about defence, there has got to be a desire and there has got to be a lot of repetition (in practice)."

Hopefully, Shaq is listening.

Porter and Phoenix GM Steve Kerr were teammates in San Antonio and forged a close bond off the court.

With the Suns' championship window closing, it is up to Porter to get the shot-happy Suns to make stops.

"This is more based on respect than it is on friendship," Kerr said. "You look at his career, he's always been a winner."

Porter's predecessor, Mike D'Antoni, emerged as the biggest financial winner when be bolted the desert for the Big Apple, agreeing to a four-year deal worth $24 million US.

The Knicks aren't going anywhere as currently constituted, but new president Donnie Walsh isn't so much interested in winning as he is in shedding salary.

D'Antoni's run-and-gun style at least is entertaining, allowing Knicks fans to have fun while the team gets set for the summer of 2010 when the likes of a LeBron James will be eligible for free agency.

In Charlotte, basketball czar Michael Jordan turned to veteran Larry Brown after dumping rookie head coach Sam Vincent following the Bobcats' dismal 32-50 season.

Brown has a history of turning around franchises, and then leaving just as quickly.

He inherits a young, yet fragile Bobcats team that has yet to fulfil its potential.

Money drove Brown to New York, where he immediately clashed with then-GM Isiah Thomas.

The Bobcats may drive Brown crazy if they continue to underachieve. But like many of Jordan's hirings, Brown is doomed for failure.

While Brown represents the ultimate in recycled coaches, Erik Spoelstra, Vinny Del Negro and Michael Curry are new.

Spoelstra's story is the most intriguing, having joined the Miami Heat organization as a video co-ordinator in 1995.

He now will be known as Pat Riley's successor in Miami, bringing a new outlook to a team that got old quicker than Dwyane Wade used to attack the rim.

QUALITY PEOPLE

In Chicago, Del Negro was a serviceable veteran during his playing career who seemed to always be surrounded by quality people. He made the move into the front office in San Antonio, which has evolved into the NBA's model franchises.

Del Negro knows the game and he should have an immediate impact with the Bulls, who will pick first overall in the coming draft.

Raptors fans may recall Curry during the ill-fated Kevin O'Neill season as the hard-nosed veteran whose basketball IQ was second to none.

When Joe Dumars fired Flip Saunders in Detroit, he turned to Curry, a natural fit for the Pistons who, like Phoenix, must win now because of the makeup of the roster.

A proven leader, Curry served as president of the players' association and knows what buttons to push, including the lever to Rasheed Wallace's head.

"I prepared as an assistant as if I was a head coach," Curry said. "I was a role player my whole career, but I prepared like I was going to play 48 minutes."

Curry played for Rick Carlisle, who replaces Avery Johnson in Dallas. The Mavs identified Carlisle, the only coach they interviewed.

The final coaching stop is in Milwaukee, where former first-round Bucks pick Scott Skiles joins new GM John Hammond.

Skiles, who couldn't get the Bulls over the hump, was given a guaranteed four-year deal.

But in the NBA, the only guarantee is that coaches will be fired.


Videos

Photos