The Suns’ operations are reportedly causing concern around the NBA.
But what does that mean?
Most of Phoenix problems trace up to owner Robert Sarver. The dysfunction has seemed enhanced since Sarver fired general manager Ryan McDonough only nine days before the regular season, leaving James Jones as the highest-ranking executive in basketball operations. That just leaves more for Sarver.
One longtime former player remembers the owner barging into the locker room following a loss to officiously instruct big men on how to set better screens. A former assistant coach was floored when Sarver confronted his boss on the way from the court to the coaches’ office immediately after the buzzer to berate him on his substitution patterns. Another former coach was taken aback when Sarver marched into the head coach’s office at halftime and insisted the team run a trap at an opposing point guard who had abused the Suns’ defense.
Former players and Suns coaches recount incidents of Sarver baiting opponents from his courtside seat, and even heckling Suns players or roaring to the bench to yank someone from the game.
FOUR YEARS AFTER naming McDonough general manager, Sarver acquired some live goats from a Diana Taurasi event at Talking Stick Resort Arena and planted them upstairs in McDonough’s office. The stunt was both a practical joke and an inspirational message — the Suns should find a GOAT of their own, one who dominates like Taurasi. The goats, unaware of their metaphorical connotation, proceeded to defecate all over McDonough’s office.
That goat story is hilarious. But that also sounds like a decision made on a whim that backfired. Sarver should have better anticipated how it’d go, but it sounds like he had playful intent.
I’m more taken aback by Sarver yelling at Phoenix’s bench to have a player pulled from the game. How is the coach supposed to respond? How is the player supposed to respond? That’s such damaging behavior – and only the start for Sarver.
I highly recommend reading Arnovitz’s piece in full. It further details problems with Sarver and Jones, who comes across as in way over his head.
The Suns need someone truly in charge of their front office. Ideally, not Sarver.