Phoenix Suns start search for front office stability with David Griffin out of the running, report says

Posted by on June 17th, 12:44 am

David Griffin will not be the next general manager of the Phoenix Suns.

You almost have to wonder if Steve Kerr senses an iceberg straight ahead and wants to jump ship while he’s still looked upon as the genius who guided the Suns to a surprise Western Conference Finals appearance.

Something happened between season’s end and Tuesday that led Kerr to prefer the life of a broadcaster and family man to that of general manager of the Phoenix Suns.

The pessimist might conclude that he knows Robert Sarver won’t be a player in free agency and Kerr did not want to build a team through free agency this summer without the requisite resources. That potential happenstance won’t be confirmed or denied for another couple weeks, but as I wrote yesterday the Suns must fill this void ASAP to prevent instability in the front office from ruining the offseason (if Sarver’s checkbook won’t do that on its own).

I hypothesized last night that senior VP of basketball operations David Griffin would be a natural fit for a promotion, but The Arizona Republic has since reported that Griffin “would not apply and would not stay with the organization after his contract expires in two weeks. He is not expected to return to the Suns after working for them for 18 years.”

Griffin has been with the team so long that I was in the early stages of elementary school when he got his start with the organization, working his way up from an intern in the communications department all the way up to being Kerr’s right hand man who was very responsible for many of the big moves the organization has made the past few years.

It’s the dream of every Suns communications intern to one day be the guy calling the shots, and since Griffin loves this organization more than anything, becoming GM of the Suns had to have been his dream job at one point.

We’re also talking about a man who intimately knows everything that this organization is about and has been about, the last tie to the Jerry Colangelo era. I spent an enlightening 15 minutes with Griff at Media Day this season, and he even foreshadowed this crazy run to the West Finals.

After talking to him, I felt there was no doubt this team would be a major surprise. Griffin spoke of the Suns being in “a position to undersell and over deliver” (which they did) with a squad that could light up the scoreboard by putting “five legitimate, big-time three-point shooters” on the floor (counting Amare as a 20-foot shooter, they did). Griffin added, “I really believe the way the puzzle pieces fit, we should (score more), but that’s really a function of defensive rebounding (true, true and true).

I felt like transitioning from Kerr to Griffin wouldn’t be much of a transition. Griffin has played a major role in every big decision made since Bryan Colangelo left, and passing the baton to him would have kept things as business as usual as possible.

Instead the Suns will now have a lame duck assistant GM joining a lame duck GM at the draft (I think that confirms the fact that the Suns won’t be trading up; at least they can’t screw up the 46th and 60th selections too badly).

And critically they will be starting a GM search during the time they should be finalizing plans on making a full-fledged attempt at bringing Amare Stoudemire back or acquiring his replacement.

If a couple bounces had gone the other way (I’m looking at you, Artest), the Suns could be hosting Game 7 of the NBA Finals tonight against the Boston Celtics.

Instead the Suns are on the clock figuring out how to put their front office back together before the clock strikes midnight on the start of free agency.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: David Griffin · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis · Steve Kerr

18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mike Meez // Jun 17, 2010 at 12:55 am

    It was one thing when Kerr left, but after this…what the hell is going on? I’ve never seen a front office treat a team that made it to the Conference Finals so much like the plague. I was confident about this offseason after a successful run in the playoffs but I don’t know what’s going to happen now.

  • 2 Daniel // Jun 17, 2010 at 3:17 am

    And now the problem (probably) reveals itself. To think that David Griffin is now leaving, is there any doubt left anywhere of what Mr. Sarver is about? What will happen to our revered franchise? I’m not the biggest fan of Jerry Colangelo, but he cared about that team, and now this…

  • 3 The Z. Man // Jun 17, 2010 at 3:52 am

    Fact is that Grif was not the assistant to Kerr.

    Grif was Kerr's boss. Last year, he was promoted to C.E.O. and Kerr took up his former "President of Basketball Operatioms" slot. He is an old dude. Everyone knew that he would retire soon. Vinny was assistant to Kerr. Then, he went on to coach the Bulls but now is out of work. He is not familiar with Earl or Robin or Gogi. But he is familiar with Alvin, Nash, Hill and the rest of the guys. Let's get him back!!!!

    STAT is one of those guys. Kerr and Grif really wanted to sign Amar'e but Sarver was more than happy to let him walk. THAT is why I believe that STAT was not moved at the dead line. Sarver saw the opportunity to cut cost if STAT would just go away. This is something the Suns can actually make work. What is most important is that, after losing STAT, Kerr, and Griff, we KEEP all of the other guys. THIS MUST happen in order to emotionally recover from this trying time. It's the only way to rebuild the chemistry of the team. With $7mil plus in cap space created when STAT is gone, Suns can keep Barbosa, Louis, and Frye. With Dud and Gogi, these guys were the reason we became such a good team. Give them more money and more playing time. They have earned both. Play Robin, Earl, and "Basketball Jones" (our super human rebounding machine) more. Suns have lots of other scorers. Keep and develop our young guys and we will be fine. Nash,Hill, and Alvin are capable of this task. With STAT gone and without any added guys, Suns will again be a dark horse. That is just the way they like it. MUST KEEP Barbosa, Louis, and Frye.

    MUST start and also finish with LB. Let's go SUNS!!!!

  • 4 G$ // Jun 17, 2010 at 8:39 am

    I hope they find a way to trade Nash where he can showcase his skills for another few years(Cleveland with LBJ?). I’d hate to see him fade away in the desert.

  • 5 j.d.hastings // Jun 17, 2010 at 8:49 am

    I think you mean had there been a bounce period on the Artest play, since the airball through off JRich…

  • 6 Jasper Buckleman // Jun 17, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Wow, Nash and Hill don’t deserve this. None of the players do, but especially Nash and Hill. They deserve to play for a team and an owner that wants to win, not this.

  • 7 Brian // Jun 17, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Please hire back Jerry Colangelo as GM.

  • 8 Will // Jun 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

    The Suns office is about to blow up and tear up the team and the franchise. This was a surprising season for everyone in the franchise. The suns first went up against Portland in the Post-season, an injured dragon. I believe Portland may have a shot at the title this upcoming season. Suns faced an old spurs team in the second round; and, I was glad that they were finally able to exorcised their demons. Then the Suns faced the giant Lakers in the WCF that put an end to the Suns Cinderella story. I was happy the Suns got as far as they did, but I am also aware that the team has reach its peak and still needs players to help them in the paint to be able to become NBA Champs.

  • 9 Mel. // Jun 17, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Way to completely undermine the team’s accomplishments in the playoffs with a bunch of half-baked tags, Will. An “injured dragon?” An “old Spurs team?”

    Nash played with a busted-up face for a good six games, Lopez was out until the WCF and the Amar’e FA drama could have hamstrung the team’s chemistry from that first loss to Portland on. The Suns were as thinly spread as anybody they faced, and only bowed to the likely champs; if you’re going to try and diminish their achievements, then at least give the devil their due.

    That said, this smells like an absolute disaster in the making. I wonder if Sarver came to some conclusion about buying spare parts and using them to make a perfectly serviceable franchise last year, and is somehow convinced that he can do so again. The tone of this report doesn’t exactly stir up confidence, and I’m beginning to wonder if the guy is going to try and play a roster of 9 this season.

    Or maybe Earl Clarke’s turned into the next Dwight Howard on the downlow, and we won’t need anybody to freshen up the serious hits to our team. It could happen. Right? Right?

    /desperation

  • 10 shawn // Jun 17, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Stat will walk

  • 11 paradoxguy // Jun 17, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Sarver seems so short-sighted and unable to plan for long-term success of the Suns. With the semi-unexpected deep playoff run (many predicted the Suns would have been lucky just to make the playoffs) and its resultant playoff revenue, a reasonable owner would have promptly resigned Kerr with a raise, agreed with Kerr that the rest of the front-office staff deserved raises or bonuses, and perhaps revised Gentry's contract so he was paid at least average salary for Western conference coaches. This would have been simply sound investing in the team for many years of playoffs ahead and improving the product to increase attendance during the regular season. Instead, Sarver seems so miserly that even Donald Sterling is starting to look favorable in comparison. JA Adande summed the situation up perfectly in the title of his article yesterday, that the fun is gone in Phoenix.

  • 12 Hayden // Jun 17, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I can’t believe Sarver has done this to any of the team, but especially Nash and Hill. They don’t deserve this crap. Nash stayed after Sarver convinced him he wants to win. So they win for him and he responds by low balling and penny pinching. What a visionless, bean counting, unambitious way to run a team.

    The worst thing is they could have done so much more. This could have been the offseason they really retool to become a championship calibre team. Now it’s goodbye Stat. Goodbye any chance at Dirk. Goodbye a shot at the Finals and the millions of extra revenue that would have won the organisation (and its owner).

    Sarver, you are a disgrace to this organisation and the state of Arizona. As a fan, I feel undervalued and hurt by this, so I can only imagine how the team and management that made the Western Conference Finals against all odds must feel right now.

  • 13 Dave // Jun 17, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Nash and Hill should go to the Lakers if they want to get a ring. Many free-agents this off-season are going to want to go to L.A and get a ring by just seating in the bench.

  • 14 Ace // Jun 17, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    SARVER, SELL THE SUNS…NOW!!! Nevada/Vegas Suns 2012.

  • 15 Hersey // Jun 17, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Shock at Kerr's departure is turning into anger the more this story turns. $arver didn't want to give anyone a raise after this year including Gentry. He wanted Kerr to take a paycut because of the Porter mistake. $arver wants to treat the team like a business and has no qualms about destroying relationships in the process. Think any free agent will want to play here knowing the owner care more about $ than championships. I don't trust this guy running our team. I hope you renewing season-ticket holders don't feel betrayed when the Suns field a much different team next year.

  • 16 Mel. // Jun 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Amen, Hayden. I never thought I’d entertain notions of trading Nash to a contender after this season, but if these cards have some truth to them… then cripes. Let him have a fair shot at putting an exclamation point on his legacy, rather than languishing between a mentor role and total mediocrity.

  • 17 Mel. // Jun 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    LOL, Dave. I know I'm not the only one who flipped off the television at the end of the game tonight and thought to myself, "Hunh… that's two rings for Adam Morrison, which puts him ahead of Barkley, Malone, Ewing, Nash, Miller… (and on and on and on)"

    Also, the Bickley piece is a perfectly wretched tail-end to the end of the season. Unbelievable; here we all are, bracing for life after STAT, and the entire ball of yarn comes unraveled in a good 48 hours. Cinderella woke up and realized that the last year was all just a gossamer dream, and has to get back to work in the basement.

  • 18 It seems like so long ago....| Valley of the Suns // Jun 17, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    [...] Dan Bickley writes today that owner Robert Sarver needs to step back. When a lifer like David Griffin who grew up as a Suns fan as a kid and then developed into a respected executive through the [...]

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