Suns drop to No. 84 in Ultimate Standings

Posted by on September 10th, 11:24 am

It’s safe to say the sun doesn’t quite set as high over US Airways Center these days. And, frankly hasn’t for some time.

Gone are the faces (Mike D’Antoni, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, and Raja Bell) from the Seven Seconds or Less teams that made consecutive Western Conference Finals appearances in 2005 and 2006.

Gone is the face of the franchise, Steve Nash, whose rare blend of grace and flair on a basketball court not only led to two MVP awards, but also captivated the city of Phoenix in a way that hadn’t been done since the 1992-93 NBA Finals run led by Kevin Johnson, “Thunder” Dan Majerle and Charles Barkley.

Heck, even the man who donned the Gorilla costume over the past six years is heading for greener pastures.

It feels at the very least that the only thing left from the era of good feeling that resonated through the Purple Palace for the better part of the last eight years is owner Robert Sarver.

And as ESPN The Magazine’s 10th Annual Ultimate Standings point out, that may be the franchise’s biggest issue going forward.

Going the wrong direction

The Magazine’s poll is based on eight different criteria that sampled fans would like to see in their franchise. They include title track, ownership, coaching, effort of players on the court/likeability off the court, fans relations, affordability and bang for the buck.

In this year’s standings, the Suns fell to No. 84 of 122 professional franchises, their lowest ranking in the 10-year history of the poll. It also marks the second straight year in which the organization was ranked last among the four major franchises in Arizona. The Coyotes and Diamondbacks both made the top 10, while the Cardinals came in at a respectable No. 43.

To make matters worse, in each of the eight categories, the Purple and Orange failed to crack even the top 60.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the franchise’s drop:

Last year’s rank: 80
Title track: 107
Ownership: 102
Coaching: 69
Players: 60
Fan relations: 62
Affordability: 83
Stadium experience: 90
Bang for the buck: 86

As Andy Kamenetzky of ESPN The Magazine pointed out in his analysis of the Suns’ ranking, it isn’t just the decline in on-court performance that has upset the fans in the Valley of the Sun, but rather the performance of the man running the show from upstairs.

With Steve Nash now a member of the Lakers, the Phoenix Suns are clearly an organization at a crossroads. But given the Suns’ rankings in our poll this year, it seems the fans have been questioning the direction of the team well before its decision to deal the most popular Sun since Charles Barkley. Most of the discontent centers around owner Robert Sarver.

The foam-fingered fan

Since taking over for the beloved Jerry Colangelo in the spring of 2004, Sarver hasn’t exactly made many friends amongst Suns fans. And as the poll accurately indicates, that tenuous relationship is probably for good reason. Whether it was selling draft picks for cash, failing to retain a budding All-Star, letting another one go only to sign three players to a combined $80 million in contracts, or resting on his laurels so as to not risk paying the luxury tax, to many who have followed the team through the years, it seems as if Sarver views his franchise like just another one of his banks. Yes, basketball is a business. But it’s the business of winning that matters most to those that support it proudest, the fans.

The No. 84 ranking is rather indicative of what most of you are already well aware of. As currently configured (from player personnel on up through the front office), the Suns are one of the NBA’s most floundering franchises.

Sarver wanted to be a Mark Cuban 2.0. He wanted to be just another fan who was passionate about the game of basketball. He wanted to win, but evidently not at all costs. Where he and Cuban differ — outside of the foam finger and the championship ring — is that the Mavericks’ owner knows when to take a step back. It’s important to run a franchise that is fiscally sound, but ultimately winning is often dictated by those that make decisions that are also basketball sound.

Rarely do numbers and polls vividly paint a picture like the one the Ultimate Standings 2012 does on the ownership front. To put things in perspective, the Phoenix Coyotes have made three straight Stanley Cup Playoff appearances, in spite of the fact their ownership situation has been a consistent talking point in the NHL over the last 40 months or so. Regardless of the fact that the team has no current face to its ownership group — although that appears to be changing in the coming days and weeks — the league-run Coyotes finished ahead of the Suns in the ownership category.

The apparent disconnect

As Michael Schwartz noted in the Magazine’s section on the Suns, many of you have voiced your displeasure for the job Sarver has done right on this very blog. So the question is, how does the team win its fan base back?

Winning always seems to be a common cure, but once again the poll seems to hit it right on the nail when detailing the disconnect — both from a financial and relations standpoint — between the organization and its fans. While the Suns have been somewhat of a fading product over the past two years, the cost to watch the team in action hasn’t reflected the decline.

Here’s more from Kamenetzky on the Suns’ pricing out their fans:

What [the fans] also really don’t like? Shelling out for the most expensive ticket ($60.63) of any non-playoff NBA team. In fact, no team in the entire league charged more money to watch fewer wins (33) than the Suns. The bang for the buck factor was already dropping even with the inherent entertainment value of Nash. Good luck trying to spin those prices moving forward.

Realistically, there is no way in which any of this can be spun positively. Until things in Sarverville change, public perception of the owner and his waning franchise will continue to rage on.

In the end, this is just a fun poll by a magazine trying to enhance readership. But in reality, it’s also a startling sign of how far the Suns have fallen in such a short period of time.

Dave Dulberg

Dave Dulberg is a ValleyoftheSuns staff writer who recently graduated from the University of Southern California. He also works as a web content writer/editor for Arizona Sports 620 KTAR.

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Tags: Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis · Phoenix Suns News

31 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tony // Sep 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    As most on VOTS’ know, I’ve been bashing Sarver for being a miserable failure of an owner for the past three years. It’s about time the media slams this loser. Heck, the only reason he’s been successful was due to riding the coattails of others. Whether it was being born into a wealthy family or taking ownership of the Suns after Colangelo left him with a highly talented roster, Sarver has consistently shown the arrogance of a spoiled rich kid who thinks he hit a tripple when in fact he was born on third base. Moreover, Sarver’s incompetence in managing the Suns franchise, in conjunction with his arrogance, are the root causes for the Suns current predicament. And yet, he still refuses to accept any responsibility for it. Absolutely astonishing!

  • 2 Andres // Sep 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Im not sure if we can take these rankings seriously when the Lakers rank worse than the Suns.
    That being said its obvious that the current owner has yet to prove he is capable of putting together a top 3 team in the West. I really miss the Colangelos…
    However the offseason additions could help build a competitive team. Only time will tell

  • 3 steve // Sep 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    “It’s about time the media slams this loser”

    Do you not read/watch anything related to the NBA on ESPN, Yahoo, Fox, or any other sports network? Sarver is one of the least popular owners among the media in any sport. You would be extremely hard-pressed to find a single member of the media who would label Sarver a “good” owner, and I would bet that over 90% of those in the media who have stated their opinion on Sarver would label him a “bad” owner.

    Sure, these numbers are made up off the top of my head, but just go out there and try to find one article for anything semi-reputable that claims Sarver is a good or even decent owner. No member of the media who wants to keep up a positive public perception of himself/herself would stand up for Sarver. It’s a stupid thing to do because everyone hates him.

    @Andres

    “I’m not sure if we can take these rankings seriously when the Lakers rank worse than the Suns.”

    Exactly. These ratings are rubbish.

    And by the way, anyone pining for the Colangelos and using these rankings as evidence that the owner is the reason for the team’s failures, look at where the DBacks are on this list.

  • 4 Ty-Sun // Sep 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Hey, I keep buying lottery tickets every week in hope that I can eventually win enough to buy the Suns from Sarver. No luck so far but I’ll keep trying.

    Sarver is certainly a poor owner. I think – but can’t be certain – that’s because he does think of the Suns as just another business. That means putting fans in the seats and making money instead of winning championships. No one thinks that this year’s team has a chance at winning a championship but there are so may unknowns that the stands should be full at least at the beginning of the season. Nash may be gone but the “favored son”, The Dragon, is back and will finally have his chance to run the team. Will Beasley finally live up to his potential? Will Wes Johnson? Will Scola and Gortat prove to be a formidable front-court? Will Marshall come along quickly and press Dragic for the starting PG position? How will O’Neal fit in? Will Morris come on this season? Where will Dudley and Frye fit in? There are so many questions that Suns fans will come just to see how it all plays out.

    Sarver may be a poor owner in a basketball sense but he’s set this season up to be an exciting one for fans at least early on which should fill a lot of seats. He may not know basketball but he knows business.

    Hopefully the Suns will soon get an owner who loves the game more than the dollar.

  • 5 Tony // Sep 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    @Steve,

    I meant the local media, which has been far too passive in criticizing Sarver, but I forgot to include “local” in my post.

  • 6 Scott // Sep 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I don’t think Sarver is a poor owner. However, many Suns fans – and Suns writers – have a difficult time understanding all that has transpired and seek to blame one person rather than recognize there were a variety of things that occurred that contributed to the Suns failure to reach the Finals.

    Maybe it is rational to try to reject complexity in favor of simplicity, but the reality is that the situation was complex.

    Everyone should know by now that Joe Johnson was serially overpaid by Atlanta. He also did not want to play in the shadow of other players (Nash, Amare, and Marion). The Suns, under Sarver, even tried to match Atlanta’s offer.

    Also, Sarver was the owner, but not the GM. He did not sell picks, and the only pick that was sold – straight out for cash – was (IIRC) the late 2nd round pick to Orlando that turned out to be Gortat. The rest were trades based on what the GMs wanted.

    The Suns did fail to pick well in the draft. Again, that’s not directly the fault of the ownership group. They had people in place who should be able to pick well, and they did pick better than some of the other teams in the league. However, they did not draft well enough to keep the Suns at the height of success.

    Most of the problems that occurred happened when D’Antoni and Kerr were the GMs. These two guys were highly opinionated about what to do with the draft and they were most often wrong.

    If the Suns had drafted Iguodala instead of trading that pick, for instance, we probably wouldn’t be having the discussion about Joe Johnson leaving and Sarver being a horrible owner.

    Writers should assign the blame where it belongs: on bad decisions made by Suns GMs, and on players who wanted more money than they were worth (Amare, Marion, Johnson). Sarver paid tens of millions more than he needed to in an attempt to keep the playoff run alive.

    Now, if you’re comparing Sarver’s expenditures to those of the Lakers or the Knicks, then sure, Sarver is not spending that kind of money. But that doesn’t mean he’s a bad owner. Sarver has been a regular payer of the luxury tax, and he’s bought out contracts when asked to do so.

    It’s clear to me that the problem is an image problem, and it’s one that is created by hack journalists and radio personalities.

  • 7 Ty-Sun // Sep 10, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Even if Sarver is a completely “hands off” owner when making decisions about the team and it’s players, he is still responsible for hiring the FO people who DO make those decisions. No matter how you want to spin it, it all ultimately returns to Sarver. The buck stops there whether anyone likes it or not.

  • 8 Robert // Sep 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Perhaps the Nash effect backfired. All those players whose value rose and $ increased due to playing with Nash, whether their value was justified or not, left the team (except Hill). I mean, Sarver couldn’t pay market price for all these guys (we all know letting Amare walk and trading Barbosa on his request was justifiable, but the Frye, Turkoglu, Childress, Warrick contracts were not).

    Sarver isn’t cheap but he’s no drunken spender, and it’s hard to know how much control he had over draft picks and trades, but you can be sure he had the final say.

    For the record, I hated Sarver ever since he pulled training camp out of my Flagstaff backyard, where people could watch the Suns for a donated can of food, and took it to Tucson where you could watch the Suns for $20 a pop. Always business indeed.

  • 9 steve // Sep 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    @Tony

    Fair enough. I agree that the local media has been far more careful in expressing their disdain of Sarver than the national media. I’m sure that has to do with the fact that the local folks are afraid to bite the hand that feeds them.

  • 10 DBreezy // Sep 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Writers have assigned the blame where it belongs Scott, the local ones just haven’t done it loud enough, outside of probably Bruce Cooper. Coro revealed in one of his blogs awhile back that it was Sarver, not D’Antoni behind the teams constant desire to trade draft picks. If you listen to Kerr on TNT he has admitted that he was forced to make undesirable moves with picks because of cash demands from above. Like the article says, the one constant here is Sarver. I can get as complex as the next guy, sometimes too much so, but this one is pretty simple in aggregate.

    Also how was Joe Johnson overpaid on the contract that Sarver passed on? No argument on his current one, but on the extension deal, the moribund Hawks made the playoffs 3 out of 5 seasons with JJ averaging between 20-25 ppg on solid shooting during that span. He was also the Suns secondary playmaker, best defender, and best one on one player when he left. No one the Suns replaced him with was better, although they paid the same or more in some cases. Think they could have used him in 2005-2006? Or to defend Manu or at least make him work on the other end of the court? Sarver had the kind of big 4 he now laments but blew it, something several owners privately mentioned when he was spouting off during the lockout

  • 11 Keith // Sep 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Agreed, Scott. Great post. You are exactly right. I also agree that the ratings are rubbish. Having teams like the Lakers, Warriors, Nets, and even the Cowboys that low is laughable. Actually whoever wrote it has a serious bias towards small markets and against big ones. Look at the top 10, all small markets basically. Complete joke.

  • 12 Tony // Sep 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    @Scott,

    come on bro, check your facts. Firstly, regardless of whether you believe JJ deserved his salary, he was so irritated by Sarver’s low balling that he requested the Suns not to match the Hawks offer.

    Secondly, as per what Paul Coro has repeatedly stated, Sarver instructed D’Antoni to either draft a player or sign a player at the veteran’s minimum, thus highly constraining the options D’Antoni had to improve the Suns roster. In essence, he put Mike D in the position of deciding whether to compete in the immediate future at the expense of the Suns longterm future or to sacrifice the interim period in favor of long term productivity.

    Thirdly, it astonishing how you ignore the constant turnover in the Suns FO! When Sarver took over, he had a very good GM already in place (JC). However, because he didn’t want to pay him, he forced him out and soon replaced him with Mike D as GM, who had no experience as GM. Then he later hired Steve Kerr as GM, yet another person without any GM experience. Finally, Sarver decided to hire another guy without GM experience, who also shares his responsibilities with yet another guy without the requisite experience in Babby.

    As far as the Suns star players are concerned, Sarver let each of them go without getting anything close to their value in return. (JJ, Marion, Amare, and now Nash). And don’t blame these failings on the GMs because for each of those players, Sarver’s refusal to offer each of them contracts they wanted were the root cause of each of them leaving.

    So Scott, please get your facts straight and stop buying into Sarver’s koolaid. There’s a reason why the overwhelming expert evaluation of Sarver’s job performance as owner has been considered pretty much awful-because it’s the TRUTH!

  • 13 Keith // Sep 10, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Letting go each of those players was the right decision. I wouldn’t have given them the contracts they sought either. I think New York and Atlanta really regret that they did. Screwed them up bigtime.

  • 14 steve // Sep 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    @DBreezy

    “Coro revealed in one of his blogs awhile back that it was Sarver, not D’Antoni behind the teams constant desire to trade draft picks.”

    Even if this is true, do you not remember how the Suns were viewed as a desirable place for established vets to come and play for the veteran min for A) A shot at the title and B) A chance to rejuvenate their careers? If you had the option of signing Grant Hill at the veteran min or paying an unknown rookie you’re grabbing with the 28th pick in the draft, would you really want the rookie?

    The “win now” mentality back in the contending days was nearly universally praised. I was strongly against the “win now” mentality because I didn’t believe the Suns were good enough to “win now.” However, people like you and Tony, who blame Sarver for blowing up the team, almost certainly believe the Suns were good enough to win the championship (otherwise you wouldn’t be so angry with Sarver’s “failings”). If you believe they were good enough to win, I would assume you would have been in the “win now” camp, and what you’re saying now is just plain hypocritical. Forgive me if I’m filling in too many blanks for your particular story, but I can’t tell you how many dozens of Suns fans I’ve talked to who believe the Suns should have done everything they could to “win now,” but still blame Sarver (and it’s still debatable this was even his decision in the first place) for selling picks and acquiring established veterans in an effort to do what they wantend in the first place – “win now.”

    People like that aren’t angry at the decisions. They’re angry at the results. And that’s just sad, because it takes a LOT of luck and fortune to win an NBA championship, and the Suns had none of it in the years they had the best opportunities. The difference between you all loving Sarver and praising him for pickups like Kurt Thomas, Tim Thomas, Jason Richardson, and Jared Dudley and cursing him for letting go of JJ, Matrix, and Amare is the width of a hair.

    “If you listen to Kerr on TNT he has admitted that he was forced to make undesirable moves with picks because of cash demands from above”

    First, Kerr has actually admitted the opposite as well. And second, if you’re going to dismiss Kerr’s admission of guilt, then why would you believe his declaration of innocence? Why would you admit on national television, “I made a couple of the most boneheaded decisions in GM history that destroyed a contender, and it was only by sheer luck that I managed to salvage another WCF run out of that mess?” Of course Kerr is going to try to cover his own butt. Don’t be ridiculous.

    [Referring to JJ] “No one the Suns replaced him with was better, although they paid the same or more in some cases.”

    The first half of that statement is true. The second half is utterly false. Johnson made $12M, $12.7M, $13.5M, $14.2M, and $15M on that deal year by year. No one on the Suns roster during that time except for Shawn Marion made more money.

    Another thing about the “big 4″ possibilities, how do you all think the money would have worked out? The Suns. It *might* have been possible in 05-06 when Amare was still on his rookie deal, but in 06-07 they would have owed $12.7 to JJ, $15.1 to Marion, $12.5 to Amare, and $10.5 to Nash. $50.8M to four players… who else is going to fill your team? The Suns don’t have a LeBron who can actually make up for completely incompetent players, and don’t even THINK about bringing up the name “Steve Nash” to compare him to LeBron in that regard. Nash makes bad players better. LeBron eliminates the NEED for other players on the court. There’s a big difference between those two effects on a game.

    I’m done ranting. To sum all that up, you should probably speak with less certitude on things if you are going on hearsay and conjecture. You’d save me a lot of time by eliminating my need to write giant walls of text that won’t change anyone’s mind.

  • 15 DBreezy // Sep 10, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    “Even if this is true, do you not remember how the Suns were viewed as a desirable place for established vets to come and play for the veteran min for A) A shot at the title and B) A chance to rejuvenate their careers? If you had the option of signing Grant Hill at the veteran min or paying an unknown rookie you’re grabbing with the 28th pick in the draft, would you really want the rookie?”

    Hill is the only substantive veteran that ended up coming here for less $$$. The Suns kept the 28th (Tucker) and 59th pick (DJ) in that draft, neither of whom I would have preferred over Hill. Although I would have preferred that the part of the tax to sign Hill for the bi-annual not have been giving away Rudy Fernandez at 24, and also giving up KT and James Jones plus picks for nothing. KT and Jones were definitely win now players and Fernandez was an internationally tested rookie who could reasonably have been expected to see rotation time. As for trying to spin what Kerr said on tv to work either way, there is no other logical reason but finances to make the KT trade.

    But what about the years that the front office was forced to choose between draft pick or free agent and they whiffed on both? The Suns were targeting John Salmons, Lindsey Hunter, and Bobby Jackson when they traded out of the 1st and they ended up with Marcus Banks in a panic move.

    I should have been clearer on what I meant about JJ. The Suns essentially tried to replace what he did for them with multiple players and often at a equal or higher cost than what it would take to keep him on the extension deal. It was a similar complaint to the one lodged by many after Amar’e left. JJ is no Lebron, but he did cover a whole lot of roles for the Suns.

    As for if I was in the ‘win-now’ camp back in the day, I’d say yes but that’s far too simple as I believed that they could have made legitimate runs at the title, while setting themselves up going forward to sustain things-and I said so at the time. Even in the summer of 2004 I thought it would have been wiser to keep the Iggy/Deng draft pick. Everyone knew that Amar’e and JJ’s deals were coming up and that pick could have allowed them to move Matrix for cheaper parts and keep rolling.

    I’ll try to avoid too much of a repeat wall of text, but suffice to say there were other times I also said that they should have balanced what they were doing, especially since Sarver was largely unwilling (for whatever reason) to use his MLE. That really limits the kinds of players you can add if you’re intent on keeping certain players together. I guess you could say that I was angry at the decisions and the results, so I’m just an angry bird. At the end of the day, I think the results speak for themselves and likely will going forward as well.

  • 16 Scott // Sep 10, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    @Tony -

    You criticize Sarver for picking GMs who performed poorly, then you criticize him for getting rid of GMs who performed poorly.

    Make up your mind.

    @All -

    I’m not familiar with the quotes from Coro referred to. The quotes I’ve seen from the various personalities involved are contrary to the “Coro” claims, and I’ve posted that sort of thing here before.

  • 17 Scott // Sep 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    What I see is history being re-written by people who desire to see it reconstructed to conform to their views.

    As for the national media, they’ve been taking their cue from the local media, which has been inclined to bash Sarver from the start.

  • 18 DBreezy // Sep 11, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Scott,

    The comments were posted in one of Coro’s blogs awhile back. I’m normally anal enough to go through them all searching it out, but I’m not sure how that affects the new stupid 20 article limit over on AZ Central, sorry.

  • 19 Michael // Sep 11, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Amare should have never left period. Soo what if we would have overpayed he and Nash were great together! and yes Kerr sucked as our gm but whose fault is that, the guy that hired him. so yeah Sarver does suck

  • 20 Mark // Sep 11, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Sarver definitely doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone and when to blow up the whole thing. Far too often he overreacts in panic moves and makes his puppet GMs do something for monetary reasons instead of letting his basketball people make basketball decisions or letting his players grow. He also overvalues marginal players and doesn’t recognize irreplaceable talent very well which he should value more.

  • 21 steve // Sep 11, 2012 at 7:57 am

    ^^^^^^^^

    I already know what guys like Tony think on the topics in the post above, but some of you others who are echoing similar thoughts, I have a serious question for you:

    If you really think things like “Mark” says are true, what’s the point of having a GM? If the owner is really that much of a meddler, and his FO is full of puppets, why have a GM at all (or any other basketball-related position, for that matter)?

    People like you simply magnify the truth that Phoenix (and AZ, in general) is full of some of the most clueless fans in any sports city. The fact that people can actually believe things like Mark just said completely baffles me.

  • 22 Scott // Sep 11, 2012 at 8:52 am

    To add to what Steve said, let me ask: “Do you think the Suns sell picks to get money for the ownership group?”

    If you do, you need to review the finances. Money from sold picks has not even come close to the spending the owners have done.

  • 23 Tony // Sep 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    @Scott,

    why are you being so dense? Any GM must work within the parameters set by ownership. You think Mitch Kupchak would have such a sterling record as GM if he worked under Sarver as the Suns GM? Of course not, because he wouldn’t have the financial flexibility to use in building a roster that comes with having an owner committed to winning.

    This is not to say that a GM’s performance is entirely dependent on the ownership. But when dealing with an owner unwilling or unable to spend as thriftly as is required to put together a contending roster, a GM in this environment with strict financial parameters, to succeed requires a talented and experienced GM, in particular one who has established a positive reputation throughout the entire league.

    In contrast, Sarver has chosen the most inexperienced instead. Whether it was D’Antoni, Kerr, or now Blanks, none of these guys had any experience as GMs when they were hired. Working under such tight financial constraints, in conjunction with a lack of experience created a recipe for disaster.

  • 24 Scott // Sep 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    @Tony -

    I already addressed this. Apparently you believe the Suns ownership group should spend money like the Lakers. (The Lakers are spending $82.5m in salary just for their starting 5.) I guess you can have that belief and feel it is justified, but to me it’s teams like the Lakers and the Knicks that abuse the league’s monetary rules and make it extremely difficult for small market teams to win a Championship.

    I don’t see where any Suns GM has been hampered by the owners, other than to try to avoid going too deeply into the luxury tax realm, which is merely following the rules and intentions of the league.

    As for who the owners should select as GM, I agree that the Suns should have picked better than they did. However, I also understand why they picked who they did. Also, keep in mind that many teams have what we would consider to be poor GMs, so it’s not like the Suns are uniquely hampered in this regard.

    Also, remember that the Suns GM merely stands at the head of the brain trust of the front office. The GM makes the call, with support from management, but normally only after consulting the rest of the crew. IMO, this Suns brain trust has likely assisted the GMs and management in forming many poor decisions.

  • 25 DBreezy // Sep 11, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    “what’s the point of having a GM? If the owner is really that much of a meddler, and his FO is full of puppets, why have a GM at all (or any other basketball-related position, for that matter)?”

    To some degree that’s spot on, which partially explains the GM choices the Suns have had. Many preferred candidates have declined to work here. Blanks for sure wasn’t their first choice for the job, according to published reports. As far as meddling, our personal opinions either way aside it’s hard to ignore stuff like this: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-sunstrades021109

  • 26 steve // Sep 11, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    I appreciate the link. It’s nice to know you’re actually taking the time to think about what you’re saying. And that article is very informative, if you believe Woj’s info. I, for one, can’t take Wojnarowski seriously when it comes to discussing people he doesn’t like. The best sports writers (or at least the most popular ones) drape their articles with hyperbole to get the clicks. Wojnarowski was the one who came out with the “Sarver can destroy his credibility just by opening his mouth” quote back in the lockout days, when multiple other sources, actually claimed Sarver was pushing the deal along as much as anyone.

    Personally, I try not to take sports writers at their word. And in the case of Wojnarowski and Sarver, I tend to believe Woj is in it for the clicks.

    Again, though, I really do appreciate your thoughtfulness in the matter. It’s refreshing, even though we happen to disagree on the repute of certain opinions and reports.

  • 27 Scott // Sep 11, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    @DBreezy -

    I don’t believe half of what I read from the press. Most of it is sheer rumor-mongering, aimed at getting clicks.

    Take that article you cite, for instance. It contends that Sarver is trying everything to move Amare, but nobody in the league will take Shaq.

    And then … what happened? Shaq was traded and Amare wasn’t.

    This particular author, Adrian Wojnarowski, is no fan of Sarver. He’s made it clear on many occasions, appearing on local radio and saying things like:

    “I think Sarver’s been the most difficult and has been really the last couple years of this thing. I quoted an ownership source the other day in story that he talks so much and says so many outlandish things in these meetings (that) people tune him out. You know him in Phoenix, he can erode his credibility just by opening his mouth.”

    Of course, that was comparatively mild to what Seth Pollack had to say, in the article from which that quote is derived, “Robert Sarver Rapidly Destroying 43 Years Of Phoenix Suns Goodwill.”

    http://arizona.sbnation.com/phoenix-suns/2011/10/5/2470872/robert-sarver-phoenix-suns-nba-lockout

    Wojnarowski also recently was widely quoted saying he had inside information that the Suns were serious contenders for free agent Ray Allen, and that Ray wanted to go to Phoenix regardless of whether or not Nash remained with the Suns … even though this clearly did not pass the smell test. According to Wojnarowski, the Heat were only a “remote possibility.”

  • 28 DBreezy // Sep 12, 2012 at 12:22 am

    @Steve and Scott

    Yes you absolutely have to take what you read in the media with a grain (or two) of salt. To me the issues presented in this article and several others over the years about Sarver are nothing new. There have been a lot of solid arguments on both sides of the table, supported by things that could be easily construed as conjecture either way.

    To me though when you look it all in aggregate after 8 years, the verdict on Sarver is what it is. You guys disagree which is more than fair, but personally I’ve seen enough evidence. That doesn’t mean I’m going to criticize every move they make because Sarver is around. Good/smart moves should be applauded when they’re made, but Sarver has lost my faith with his previous actions which is essentially what this ESPN survey reflects. To the future.

  • 29 Scott // Sep 12, 2012 at 1:07 am

    @DBreezy -

    I think the case can be made that it is actually Steve Kerr, one of the owners, who is making the bad decisions.

    Kerr can be credited with meddling and driving off D’Antoni, with the trades of Kurt Thomas and Shaq, offending and nearly driving off Grant Hill with a lowball offer after he’d already played for Phoenix a few years on the veteran minimum (Sarver mended the situation at the last minute by flying to Orlando with a higher offer), and it was also Kerr who advised the lower pay rate for Joe Johnson. Kerr brought in his friend Terry Porter to coach the Suns, which resulted in the need to trade away Raja Bell and Boris Diaw. Kerr is also the person who recommended the unusual “agent + scout as GM” pairing of Babby and Blanks, and Blanks is a friend of his.

    As I’ve pointed out before, Sarver represents the ownership group as the managing partner. But Steve Kerr is the only owner who has basketball experience, and he’s left his fingerprints all over.

  • 30 nashty // Sep 12, 2012 at 3:43 am

    Barbosa and T-Will could come to Phoenix. It’s possible? Who you prefer? Thanks.

  • 31 Tony // Sep 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    @Scott,

    why are you trying to rewrite history? You are absolutely wrong to blame Kerr for most of those decisions. What fantasy world do you live in? In your dream world, Sarver is a great owner, the fault for the Suns current irrelevance is Kerr’s to blame, and everyone else, including the overwhelming percentage of national sports experts are wrong. I gotta give you credit for being consistent in your defense of Sarver and blame for Kerr, although it’s ridiculous.

    You are so wrong about the Shaq and Thomas trades. They were pure salary-reducing trades that Sarver demanded Kerr make. Sarver was the one who low-balled JJ, not Kerr. Maybe you don’t understand the organizational structure in professional sports, so let me explain it as simply as I can. The principal owner, i.e., Sarver, is responsible for the team’s salary, NOT the GM. The GM, i.e., Kerr, is responsible for putting together as best a team roster as possible under the financial constraints created by the owner. And Kerr’s interest as owner is minimal compared to the majority owner Sarver.

    Next, how can you criticize his trade for J-Rich and Dudley???? Raja Bell barely plays anymore and while DIaw is still an effective role-player, his value isn’t as high as J-Rich’s and Dudley’s. So how can you criticize him for that trade, when in fact, it was a very good trade for the Suns.

    I do agree with you about the hiring of Porter though. There’s no question that decision was purely Kerr’s.

    Now Scott, answer me this: Who hires the GM? Who originally hired Kerr to be GM? I hope you don’t serious contend that Kerr hired himself to be the Suns GM!
    Once again, the majority owner, in this case Sarver, ultimately signs off on whomever is vying for the job. And as I stated earlier, instead of hiring experienced GMs to the Suns FO, he has consistently hired the cheapest and most inexperienced. Now why do you think that’s the case?

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