Charles Barkley as Suns GM? Will not happen. They can’t afford him.


Do you think Charles Barkley would have been good as the governor of Alabama? He once talked about running, but do you think he would have done well in a world where he needed to be diplomatic, to compromise and to be detail oriented? Does Barkley strike you as the kind of guy who would take a steep pay cut to take on way more work?

So what makes you think he’d make a good general manager in Phoenix?

Barkley has talked about that again. The Suns have fired Lance Blanks and need a GM, and Barkley wants to throw his hat in the ring. Here are Barkley’s own words from an Arizona radio interview transcribed by the Arizona Republic.

“The Suns are the Titanic. So the notion that I can’t do better than them is ridiculous. The Suns stink. So whoever has been rowing the boat has just done a horrific job so let’s just get that straight and out of the way. I made it perfectly clear that I’m going to be a GM. The Suns know my number. They know that I want to be a GM….

“I don’t believe it’s a 24-7 job. You draft your players. You have your team. How many trades do you make during the season? You might make a trade. But most of the good teams don’t make a lot of trades during the season. Do you have to be there every day? Of course you have to be there every day. But you have to have a good supporting staff as far as going out scouting players. Listen, this thing is about players. It ain’t about the general manager. It’s about the general manager who is picking players….

“Obviously, I’m probably going to have to take a pay cut. But, listen, dude, I’m not overly concerned about money at this stage of my life. I’ve been very blessed.”

Paul Coro at the Arizona Republic is rightfully dismissive of the idea, as was team president Lon Babby, after listing the guys the Suns actually talked to.

The GM search began this week with the Suns considering Milwaukee assistant GM Jeff Weltman (a finalist in 2010 when Blanks was hired), former Indiana Pacers GM and Arizona graduate David Morway and former Lakers assistant GM Ronnie Lester. Assistant GMs Ryan McDonough (Boston), Wes Wilcox (Atlanta) and Troy Weaver (Oklahoma City) are potential candidates too…

Charles Barkley talks about becoming a GM like he once spoke of becoming Alabama governor, but the Suns likely would not approach the TNT salary paid to Barkley, who is in the Suns’ Ring of Honor.

“I think the job requires rowing the boat every single day and it’s an all-consuming job and my impression is that he has a pretty full and good life,” Babby said. “Taking on a challenge like this might be something he really doesn’t want if he knew what it entails.”

Despite what Barkley says, I think it’s about the money.

Suns owner Robert Sarver is notoriously cheap with his franchise. Well, that’s how you view it as a fan, but the man stays within the budget he has for the team. No matter what. So first off, while Charles Barkley’s salary is not public he is one of the big draws on TNT, a big personality, and you can be sure he gets paid accordingly. Way more than other GMs around the league.

However the money issue is not just about salary. What happens the first time Barkley really wants to spend on a free agent, or to go into the luxury tax to re-sign a player on the roster, and Sarver laughs him out of the office? To win with the budget constraints in Phoenix will take a smart and clever GM willing to work very hard.

Bottom line to me: Does Barkley strike you as the kind of guy who would take a serious pay cut to take on more work?

This is kind of a fan fantasy, because Barkley would likely run the team like a lot of fans. Heck, most fans can remember players’ names better than Barkley seems to. I love Barkley around the NBA, but this would not be a good fit.

Stan Van Gundy goes off on officials: “We got absolutely screwed all night”

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The Pistons were likely to lose to the red-hot Trail Blazers on the road, and that came to be Saturday night 100-87, Portland 12th straight win. The Pistons shot 38.8 percent for the game and had a dreadful offensive rating of 93.8 (points per 100 possessions).

Portland is one the top five defensive teams in the NBA this season, but that’s not what Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy thought was the problem — he laid the blame on the officiating.

That’s going to be a fine.

Van Gundy is frustrated — with this game and with this season. So are Pistons fans, and seemingly so is Detroit owner Tom Gores after his lukewarm vote of confidence in Van Gundy recently. They should be, this team is a disappointment and the Blake Griffin trade was a big swing that has yet to work out. The Pistons are going to miss the playoffs. Around the league, the sense is that Van Gundy will lose his GM job to former super agent Arn Tellem, who was brought in to guide the Pistons into their new building but now whose talents would better serve the basketball side of the operation. The only question is will Van Gundy still be coaching in Detroit next season — just coaching, like Doc Rivers with the Clippers — or of the change will be more sweeping than that.

Hornets’ coach gives savage, frank assessment of Willy Hernangomez

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When Willy Hernangomez was not getting much run with the Knicks this season, especially as injuries opened up space in the front line rotation, there were questions as to why. Then the #freeWillyHernangomez movement popped up.

Eventually, Hernangomez was traded to the Hornets where… he barely plays. He’s gotten more than 10 minutes just once since coming to Charlotte.

What gives? Hornet’s coach Steve Clifford didn’t hold back when answering that question to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“If you were in one place and didn’t play much, if you want to play more in the next place, I’d say work harder and kill myself,” Clifford said at the Hornets shootaround at the Players Association’s midtown headquarters. “The reality is he wasn’t playing here for a reason. He’s got to change things…

“He’s not up to speed on what we’re doing to play a lot,” Clifford said. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle for him. He’s smart, but he’s not this high-flier, phenomenal, natural athlete able to make up ground. He’s got to be on top of things, especially on the defensive end. If he’s not detailed defensively, he’s not that [athletic] guy…

“To be an every-night player, and I’ve told him this, he’s got to improve his shooting,” Clifford said. “He is right now, in my opinion, a back-to-the-basket player who can pass. But the reality is his passing doesn’t come into play until they have to get close to him and know he’s not going to knock down a shot. And he’s not a knockdown shooter.”

Well then.

Just to be clear he’s got to put in a lot more effort, become smarter on the defensive end, and improve his shooting. That’s a healthy off-season checklist.

Hernangomez has another year on his contract at a very reasonable $1.5 million before the Hornets have to make any kind of decision on him, which means whoever is the new GM in Charlotte he will choose to keep Hernangomez around. For now. He flashed potential his rookie season with the Knicks, when asked to play strictly to his strengths, but Clifford and the Hornets — and basically every other team in the NBA — is going to ask more of him.

Clifford was clear, as no doubt he has been clear to Hernangomez (Clifford is as straight a shooter as the league has). The ball is in Hernangomez’s court.

Glen “Big Baby” Davis denies drug charges while eating Popeyes on a charter plane

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Best. Denial. Ever.

Last month, former NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis was arrested last month at a hotel in a suburb of Baltimore by Jimmy McNulty and Lt. Daniels with 126 grams of marijuana and more than $96,000 in cash, according to a police report. He has been charged with possession and intent to distribute.

Davis has declared his innocence in the best denial video ever — eating Popeyes chicken and flashing cash and a championship ring.

I have no idea whether Davis is guilty or not, I was not at a Hampton’s Inn outside Baltimore last month. The court system will sort that out, that is what it’s there for.

But I know a brilliant video when I see one. This is it.

Report: Michele Roberts to seek second contract as players’ union head

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Michele Roberts entered the NBA’s player union in a tumultuous time — long-time union president Billy Hunter had been ousted in a rancorous fight, the union felt adrift, and negotiations with the NBA on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement were looming (and players felt they had been screwed in the last CBA, following the lockout).

Roberts, the first female head of a professional sports labor union, settled things down. She cleaned up the union finances and made them more transparent to players, she worked hard to establish relationships with the players, and while she rattled some sabers with the NBA in negotiations, she also worked in a non-combative way with Adam Silver and team (unlike the Billy Hunter/David Stern relationship) and got a deal done the players liked without a lockout or labor mess.

Roberts’ contract with the union is up, but she is going to ask for a new deal — one she likely gets — reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

With an original four-year agreement set to expire in September, Michele Roberts plans to seek a new contract as the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, sources tell ESPN…

Roberts had strongly considered staying in the NBPA’s executive director role for only the length of her original contract — and expressed that to the union’s senior membership — but has recently decided to pursue a longer tenure, sources said.

NBPA president Chris Paul played a significant part in Roberts’ hiring in July 2014 and he has built a strong working relationship with Roberts.

Roberts also has a good relationship with the star-heavy executive committee of the union — CP3, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and others — making it likely she gets a new deal.

As for what’s next, at the front of that list Roberts is working with Silver and others on reforming the NBA’s one-and-done rule (it was supposed to be part of the CBA negotiations but was too big and complex an issue to fold into that timeline).

Neither the owners or players can opt out of the CBA for four more years (and if neither side does it runs a couple more beyond that) so labor peace will continue in the NBA for a while.