There are plenty of people around the NBA who have stories about Suns owner Robert Sarver — about his penny-pinching ways, the time he put goats in his GM’s office, or more serious discussions of the workplace environment he created in Phoenix.
Former Suns star Goran Dragic stepped forward with a story he told on a Slovenian basketball podcast (hat tip teolight332 at NBA Reddit) about missing the 2014 All-Star team that paints Sarver’s concerns about finances in a petty light.
“He came to the gym and said that he is happy… Actually happy. So I asked him why are you so happy? He told me that it’s because he doesn’t have to pay me a $1 million bonus. And I was like, what kind of owner doesn’t want his own player to make the all-star team. After that I said to myself… I really don’t see myself being in this place any longer.”
That was allegedly during the 2013-14 season, when the Suns were a surprise 48-win team, powered in part by a Dragic and Eric Bledsoe backcourt. Dragic averaged 20.3 points and 5.9 assists a game that season but just missed the cut to make the All-Star Game. Sarver’s reaction fits his reputation as trying to run his franchise on the cheap, something that continues right up through how the franchise handled the max extension of Deandre Ayton this summer (although, to be fair, he did pay up for the center and the team is now $16.9 million into the luxury tax).
Sarver may have bigger problems than this story coming.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA is in “sort of the last stage of the investigation” into the toxic workplace, including sexual harassment, which Sarver allegedly created in Phoenix and was detailed by an ESPN report. Sarver has denied the allegations. It would be very much like the NBA to drop that report in the offseason, maybe around the time football was ramping up, so that the sporting public’s attention was spread a little thinner. What that report will conclude, and what punishments could follow, are yet to be determined