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Suns hire Terry Porter as coach

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PHOENIX — Terry Porter will be the Phoenix Suns' next coach, ending the club's monthlong search for a successor to Mike D'Antoni.

Phoenix general manager Steve Kerr said Saturday he had agreed to terms with Porter, who was an assistant with the Detroit Pistons.

The 45-year-old Porter played in the NBA for 17 seasons and teamed with Kerr in San Antonio.

"He's got a great combination of leadership skills," Kerr said in a telephone interview. "He's a great communicator. And his coaching experience, two years as a head coach, is important to me. The fact that he's sat in that chair, that was a key factor. He's very tough-minded."

Porter is expected to sign a three-year deal worth about $7 million, and he likely will be introduced at a news conference early this week. His hiring was first reported by ESPN.

Porter emerged from an extensive list of candidates interviewed by the Suns. Last week, Kerr said the list had been pared to four — Porter and assistants Elston Turner of Houston, Tyrone Corbin of Utah and Mike Budenholzer of San Antonio.

Porter was the only one with head coaching experience, with two seasons at the helm of the Milwaukee Bucks.

"We interviewed some great candidates, and we wanted to take our time and make sure we made the right choice," Kerr said. "He's the right guy, and I'm glad to have him on board."

Porter will become the Suns' seventh coach since 1993, when they made their last NBA Finals appearance.


Clay Bennett wants his SuperSonics to play in Oklahoma City next season because it's his hometown. That, and about 80 million other reasons.

The Sonics owner says his team would make almost $20 million if it played in Oklahoma City during the next two years. He suggests the team will lose more than $60 million — about 20 percent of what he paid for it — if it stays in Seattle for two more "lame duck" seasons.

That was among the revelations from Bennett's testimony in a 13-hour, 373-page deposition obtained by The Associated Press late Friday night. The deposition was given in advance of the June 16 trial of the city of Seattle's lawsuit, which seeks to have the team play out the remainder of its KeyArena lease.

Bennett is expected to testify in the trial before U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman.

The 48-year-old Oklahoma businessman was videotaped and appeared in court transcripts to have remained composed throughout the persistent, often during repetitive questioning April 23 in Oklahoma City by Paul Lawrence, an attorney representing Seattle. Lawrence and Bradley Keller, a lawyer for Bennett's Professional Basketball Club LLC, traded accusations and barbs throughout the testy day.

Testimony revealed the Sonics lost $23 million in 2004 and $29 million in 2005, when they were owned by Starbucks Corp. chairman Howard Schultz and 57 other Seattle-area investors.

Bennett and his co-owners paid $350 million for the team in July 2006. He said his Sonics lost $32 million in the 2007-08 season amid fan apathy, anger and the worst record (20-62) in the franchise's 41-year history in Seattle.

Based on that, Bennett testified the team would lose $60.9 million-$64.9 million if Pechman rules in favor of Seattle and demands that the team play in KeyArena for the final two years of its lease that ends after the 2009-10 season.

"I would think so," Bennett said. "Couldn't get much worse than this year."

Bennett, whose family is one of Oklahoma's richest, said he could bear those losses without any undue financial hardship — though hours later he added, "It's certainly no fun losing a lot of money."

Bennett estimated that if Pechman ruled in favor of the Sonics and allowed them to move to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season as the league has already approved, the Sonics would make $18.8 million in the those same two seasons.

Bennett also estimated that the Sonics-related economic activity in Oklahoma City would be $171 million annually, and the team would generate $11 million in annual tax revenue there, including from the team's payroll.

Given that, he said keeping the Sonics in Seattle "is a losing proposition on all sides."