Suns owner Robert Sarver explains his expectations for the timeline
Over the past two years, the Phoenix Suns have held firm in believing it’s best to wait out the Western Conference powers.
That’s meant drafting young, developing those players and resisting temptation to attack free agency and the trade market with a win-now attitude.
For a franchise in its 50th season and in a seven-year playoff drought, it’s not an easy decision. Just ask Suns owner Robert Sarver, who joined Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station Wednesday before Phoenix tipped off 2017-18 against the Portland Trail Blazers.
“I don’t really have a choice,” Sarver said. “Would I rather be a top-2 or top-3 team in the West right now and have those deep playoff runs? Yeah, absolutely. So I embrace (the timeline) because I think it is the best path for this team to win a championship. I don’t embrace it because I like it.”
Sarver, of course, is betting on the Suns’ youngest players to develop. Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss, Josh Jackson and Dragan Bender were all lottery picks. And an honest Sarver said two of those players must develop into All-Star caliber players within the next few seasons.
“I think all four of them have a chance to become excellent players,” Sarver said. “We need two of those players to develop into All-Stars. Two of them. And then we will have a really good group of young players on rookie contracts, and in 2020 we’ll be able to combine that with two max player contracts that we can sign. And that’s really kind of the strategy.”
As for the upcoming season, Sarver said he’d be disappointed if the Suns again won 24 games like they did a season ago.
In a speech to the team earlier Wednesday, he told Phoenix players he believes they can become a winning team this year.
Whether that’s good enough to make the playoffs remains to be seen.
The Suns’ owner is well aware the teams at the top — from Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and elsewhere — are difficult to compete against without an All-Star, let alone three.
Sarver admitted it’s been hard resisting the urge to make moves that could lead to more wins in the near future.
“It’s hard. It’s hard, especially when free agency starts and you see a few opportunities like that, and your instinct is to want to try to go get the best players you can get,” he said. “And it’s also hard during the season where at times you wish you had some of that. But I think our plan is pretty solid and high level.”
“I have a pretty good idea of what Josh is going to bring … Same with Devin. The interesting piece for me is Marquese, Dragan and Tyler (Ulis). The difference between the first year and second year for me is probably why I’m interested in seeing those guys.” — Sarver on what player he is most curious to watch this season.
The Suns tip off Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and starting at 4:30 p.m., the “Suns’ Opening Night Special” on 98.7 FM will feature special roundtables to lead into the opener.