The Devil's Advocate: Why Larry Brown Could Be The Answer In Phoenix

Aaron KeelSenior Analyst IIIApril 26, 2008

The writing is on the wall.

No, forget that. The writing is splattered all over the building.

The building in this case being the U.S. Airways Arena, home of the Phoenix Suns.

The writing is as clear as day.

Suns coach Mike D’Antoni might want to start clearing out his office. And after the way the Suns were dropkicked by the defending champion San Antonio Spurs 115-99 Friday night in Phoenix to go down 3-0 in the series, he should think about sooner rather than later.

The dismal performance elicited boos from the home crowd, who expected more from their home team.

This came after an article in Friday’s Arizona Republic questioned D’Antoni’s job security if the Suns were eliminated by the Spurs. This seems to be a matter of "when," not "if."

The speculation, however, is nothing new.

The rumblings started before the season began: the Suns needed to reach the NBA Finals, or D’Antoni’s job would be in jeopardy.

Those rumblings turned into loud roars when the Suns stumbled after the acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal. Not only were the fans calling for D’Antoni’s job, but a few even blasted Suns GM Steve Kerr, who pulled the trigger on the Shaq trade.

Thankfully for D’Antoni and Kerr, the team righted its ship and went on a roll to close out the season. The fans were subdued until the two wins against the hated Spur, with O’Neal doing a good job on Suns killer Tim Duncan.

Those wins led the Suns’ players and coaches to believe that would finally be able to overcome San Antonio in the playoffs. D’Antoni himself seemed supremely confident, referring to the Suns as the “better team.”

Instead, a 3-0 deficit has taken the air out of the team’s and D’Antoni’s sails.

And those rumblings for his job?

They’ve morphed into an earthquake-sized tremor as the fans' love affair with him appears over.

But if D’Antoni is to be let go, this begs not one, but two questions.

Who can management hire to get over the hump to an NBA championship?

A college coach is too big of a risk, and unless Phil Jackson or Gregg Popovich leaves his team (not happening), there’s no current coach worth going after.

This leaves the logical and easy choice.

Larry Brown.

The former coach who recently resigned his post as executive VP with the 76ers and is looking to get back into coaching would make the perfect fit for the Suns.

Now let me preface this by making one thing clear.

I do not like Larry Brown.

He’s a little too "old school" for my taste which is why he seems to wear out his welcomes at some point.

Having said that, one thing is certain about Larry Brown.

This guy can coach.


He is energized and ready to go after taking a break from coaching the past two seasons. He has a history of taking teams to the next level.


Let’s be honest. The Suns defense is, how should I put this, non-existent. The Spurs, who averaged 95.36 ppg during the season, are averaging 111.33 ppg during this series. Brown would help change that.

Take a look at his run with the Detroit Pistons, which netted the team back-to-back Finals appearances and a championship. Those teams were all about defense. Just ask O’Neal, whose Lakers were dismantled by the Pistons in five games in 2004.

Larry Brown would also bring something else the Suns desperately need on and off the court. Toughness, on and off the court, is something the team is not particularly known.

It is a staple of all Larry Brown-coached teams. Brown’s emphasis on toughness would help not only on defense but also in the rebounding area which has also been a weakness of the Suns for awhile now.

These, of course, are just some of the problems to which the hiring of Larry Brown would be a great solution. There are others (like lack of bench depth) that team management needs to address before next season.

Still, the addition of Brown would solve many of the major problems that have kept the team from reaching the promised land.

The only question now is for Steve Kerr.

He took a risk with the O’Neal trade which many will say is a dud with the Suns playoff exit near.

Does he have the brass ones left to make another huge splash by going after Larry Brown?