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.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:
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.
Nikola Jokic was delayed in joining the Nuggets after testing positive for coronavirus in Serbia.
Gary Harris, Torrey Craig and Michael Porter Jr. apparently aren’t with Denver, either.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
The Nuggets closed their facility two weeks ago after positive coronavirus tests. At least a week prior to that, a Western Conference playoff team reportedly had four positive coronavirus tests.
Are either of those events related to these absences?
The NBA has shown a disturbing lack of transparency around its restart.
When the season got suspended, Denver looked like a good regular-season team that’d face issues adapting to a playoff style. Now, who knows how the Nuggets will be when the season resumes? There’s so much roster uncertainty.
Harris is Denver’s starting shooting guard, and Craig and Porter have been rotation-level backup forwards. Both Harris (on smaller players) and Craig (on bigger players) have been defensive standouts with lackluster offense. Harris’ shooting struggles have been a major disappointment. For Craig, they’re an accepted limitation. Porter has shown flashes as a superb scorer, but he’s still raw.
Who knows if and when these three will join the Nuggets? Again, the lack of transparency has been frustrating. But Harris, Porter and Craig missing time would be a major setback for Denver.
Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Luc Mbah a Moute didn’t travel with the Rockets to Orlando for the NBA’s resumption at Disney World.
Westbrook says he tested positive for coronavirus:
It’s good that Westbrook is feeling well. And, once he had coronavirus, it’s good he tested positive before the team departed. He can quarantine in the comfort of his own home rather than a hotel room. He didn’t risk spreading coronavirus during the flight.
When will he join the Rockets? That’s tough to say. He must clear coronavirus first, and it’s unclear how long he has had it. Then, upon arrival at Disney World, he faces an in-room quarantine. The length of that can vary.
With Harden as the centerpiece, Houston has built its secondary attack around Westbrook’s aggressive style. The Rockets’ unique center-less approach is a direct response to Westbrook’s minus outside shooting. Empowered by spacing later in the season, Westbrook has really thrived.
He’d be a huge loss. Houston could go from a championship-contending wildcard to one-man show – or less.
This revelation also raises questions about Harden and Mbah a Moute, whose late arrivals haven’t been publicly explained.
Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and 76ers star Joel Embiid expressed doubt about players following the NBA’s protocols in the bubble.
See Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
Players first arriving at Disney World is one of the most perilous times in the NBA’s plan. A player leaving his initial quarantine with coronavirus could undermine the whole operation.
The league has no practical choice but to be strict.
James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Luc Mbah a Moute didn’t arrive with the rest of the Rockets in Orlando. This makes four players who are behind in their ability to build chemistry and train with their teammates. At least Caboclo is just four days away from being four days away – major progress for him.
Houston has already clinched a playoff spot. But there’s some danger of slipping to the No. 7 seed and facing the powerful Clippers in the first round. So while they don’t have the most urgency for the seeding games, the Rockets are playing for something in the seeding games.
Missouri U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley sent out a press release complaining about the NBA’s list of approved social-justice messages for jerseys.
ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski replied to the email, “F— you.” (Wojnarowski did not censor the first word.)
Wojnarowski apologized. ESPN condemned his behavior and, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, suspended him two weeks.
Several NBA players have publicly supported Wojnarowski:
Lakers star LeBron James:
Clippers guard Lou Williams:
Clippers guard Patrick Beverley:
Nuggets guard Jamal Murray:
Heat big Bam Adebayo:
Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie:
Kings forward Harrison Barnes:
Pacers center Myles Turner:
Grizzlies forward Anthony Tolliver:
Wizards wing Troy Brown Jr.:
Trail Blazers guard Jaylen Adams:
LeBron’s message is particularly notable.
Obviously, he’s the NBA’s biggest star. His words carry weight.
Wojnarowski also has a long history of harshly criticizing LeBron. Here are just a few examples.
But if he can get over The Letter from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, LeBron can probably get past anything written about him.