TUCSON - As a longtime point guard in the NBA, Terry Porter has mastered hundreds of plays and seen them work successfully in the league. But as a coach, he wants to keep the Suns’ playbook fairly simple, and prefers quality over quantity.
“I’ve never been a big believer in having 10,000 plays and then wind up only running five of them,” he said. “I’m more of a believer in having just a few, making sure those plays have a lot of wrinkles and options.”
The Suns spent an hour ironing out the wrinkles on one such play in Wednesday’s morning session as the motion offense he will use to replace Mike D’Antoni’s wide-open system began to take shape.
Porter said he likes the 3-point shot and there will be plenty of chances for the Suns to shoot them within the offense and in the open court. But those players who are given the green light will have to earn it.
“We’ll be watching closely from a percentage standpoint,” he said. “Some guy’s (green) lights will be brighter than others. If you want to take them, you have to make them.”
Amaré Stoudemire had tinkered with the 3-point shot some last year, but Porter said, “I wouldn’t say you’d expect to see Amaré out there much.”
TOSSING IT UP
After three days of drills and implementing offense and defense, the Suns finally got to some scrimmaging Wednesday night at St. Gregory’s Prep Academy — used because Arizona’s McKale Center was hosting a Wildcat volleyball match against rival Arizona State.
The need to blow off steam, and the short, 90-foot high school court, led to some chippy play and a handful of minor injuries.
Stoudemire, taking part in a full practice and scrimmage for the first time, was poked hard in the right eye by Boris Diaw and spent the final 20 minutes with a towel over his head and an ice bag on his face.
Stoudemire went into a bathroom to check out his eye and winced. “Oh, that looks great,” he said.
Alando Tucker, who jammed his thumb on Monday night, was forced out after suffering cramps in both of his calves. “At least my thumb doesn’t hurt any more,” he said with a smile. “I guess I’ll get all the bumps out of the way now.”
Rookie Robin Lopez suffered a mild ankle sprain, but was walking without a limp by the end of the night. “It’s nothing,” he said.
Forward Matt Barnes had a second strong day. He appears to be one of the better-conditioned players at this point and his jump shot was accurate in the scrimmage.
Wednesday’s morning session ended with another playful Porter conditioning drill. As the team jogged slowly around the court with their hands in the air — chain-gang style — Porter would blow his whistle and the man who was last in line would sprint to the front before easing back into line.
“All we need is Sheriff Joe (Arpaio) and some pink underwear,” Suns assistant coach Alvin Gentry said as he watched the drill unfold.
Stoudemire said the drill reminded him of high school, but a reporter stopped him dead when he asked “which one?” Stoudemire made six high school/prep school stops before entering the NBA draft.
While Shaquille O’Neal is at practice today, a court hearing will take place in Atlanta concerning a stalking charge brought by Alexis Miller, a 23-year-old aspiring rap singer known professionally as Maryjane. O’Neal was initially expected to be present at the hearing.
Porter, upon being informed that guard Steve Nash is less than 400 assists from passing him for 11th place on the all-time assist list: “Is that right? Oh, he’s got no chance this year. I’m going to have other guys running everything. Oh, well. All good things must come to an end, I guess. Let’s hope he’s getting a lot (of assists) and gets it out of the way real quick.”
When the Suns broke the huddle under former coach Mike D’Antoni, they chanted “Suns!” Under Porter, that mantra has changed to “Defense!”