Can Robert Sarver really change for the better?

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) /

The hiring of Monty Williams as the Phoenix Suns’ next head coach is only a part of the story. The other part is that Robert Sarver may have changed; but is it for real?

Phoenix Suns fans are desperate for a change at ownership.

Sure, the vast majority would prefer to change  owners, but with that likely not to happen for a couple of decades, they would at least take an owner who changes his ways.

The hiring of Monty Williams could be the sign of change.

The cost and length of contract for Monty Williams could be a sign of change.

The fact that Monty Williams chose the Phoenix Suns so quickly could be a sign of change.

The leaked information that Sarver told  Williams that he has changed and will give the new hire the autonomy he needs to best succeed could be a sign of change.

The consistent public defense of Sarver by people in his inner circle like James Jones and Larry Fitzgerald could be a sign of change.

These are all indirect signs of Sarver possibly turning the corner and becoming the kind of owner that successful franchise’s need: one who let’s the professionals who have spent a lifetime in basketball do their jobs, and spends the money necessary to acquire the kinds of players and voices in the organization who can do the best job money can buy, letting the success on the court alleviate any possible pain felt in the wallet.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

Robert Sarver may have doled out more money than he usually would for a head coach, signing Monty Williams to a longer-term deal than he has a history of, finally using a contract as a sign of faith in what Monty can bring to the on-court product.

Sarver may have even told Monty that as part of the conditions for signing that he will stay out of the way and that he is not the meddling owner that he once was.

And with these in mind, fans should keep the faith that these acts within the last 96 hours are the signs of an owner who really does have an eye on the top prize and who is willing to let others bring him to that pinnacle of professional success.

But the Phoenix Suns are still a long ways away from being not only playoff contenders but capable of vying for a championship.

If we expect that at some point in the next few years they can become a team capable of succeeding during the regular season and finding their way deep into the postseason, there will be a great number of opportunities for Sarver to step in and muck things up.

If we believe in James Jones’ ability to find good talent around the league and formulate both major trades and swing major free agency signings to acquire said talent, he still has an owner that for one reason or another (generally on financial concerns) can step in and put the kibosh on such moves, against the better belief of his general manager.

There will be instances where Sarver will be upset about a slide in the record and itch to demand a certain lineup change or rotational adjustment against the wishes of his head coach.

There will be times when organizationally the financially sound decision is not the right decision to bring success, and Sarver will be asked to put money towards something that his banking instinct will scream “no!” to.

These events will  happen as they are an inevitable part of the athletic process, even (if not especially)  for the league’s best teams.

Will he sit back and let Jones, Jeff bower, and Williams, each do their jobs in tandem and with freedom from gut-check demands from their owner?

Agreeing to the hiring of a head coach to a long-term deal in the face of the prior seven seasons of multiple head coaching changes and the history of not hiring someone with head coaching experience is one thing.

It’s obvious.

Even though Sarver has not made the “obvious” moves in the past or has made those moves that were “obviously” the wrong ones, the signing of Monty is one that even he could not miss as the absolute and in-arguable right move based on the options presented to him.

But standing back and signing off on every major contract extension, free agency signing, or not re-signing someone vital to the team moving forward; not waiving someone because it’s for the good of the team to hold onto him as an asset, keeping him on the roster until a trade that works for the franchise presents itself; these are all situations that must be judged not from a financial perspective, but from a pure and unencumbered competitive one.

For true  change to have occurred, from this point forward, the signing of Monty Williams must not be a blip in the history of an otherwise continues string of bad moves, but rather become a fulcrum in time that will be the true and honest change in the ownership of Robert Sarver, and the direction of the franchise.

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Robert Sarver signing off on the hiring of Monty Williams could  be a step in the right direction. But is the Phoenix Suns owner going to get out of the way and let his staff do their jobs without fear of meddling?

Only time will tell.

The fate of the franchise depends upon it.