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Suns’ James Jones: Owner Robert Sarver doesn’t meddle in decisions

(AP photos)
LISTEN: James Jones, Phoenix Suns VP of Basketball Operations

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver has carved out quite the reputation for himself in the Valley since he bought the Suns for $401 million in 2004.

From accusations of being cheap to a #SarverOut billboard going up late last year, Sarver has a testy relationship with a passionate fanbase that knows he is heavily involved in the Suns’ front office processes.

That extends to some assumptions about the team’s moves, whether it’s signing players in free agency, the Suns’ activity on the trade market or hiring a new coach.

Vice president of basketball operations James Jones has been in his position since July of last year and from his 15-year career in the NBA, he knows Sarver’s owner approach is different from most.

“A lot of the newer owners aren’t as involved,” Jones said on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta. “A lot of them are not, I won’t say absentee, but this is their secondary business.”

Sarver is different, though.

“Robert has always viewed the Suns as his primary business,” Jones said. “This is his love interest.

“It’s uncommon for a lot of owners to be there day in and day out like Robert is.”

Jones sees that as a positive and denies any overwhelming influence in important decisions coming from Sarver.

“Robert is invested in the team and like all great owners he’s deeply interested in what happens on a day-to-day basis but at no point is Robert a dictator or does he meddle in decisions,” Jones said. “It’s really a collective group that makes decisions.

“His passion a lot of times is taken for control, but really it’s just a level of investment. He’s been amazing.”

Jones knows the players don’t mind having Sarver around in the slightest.

“They love it,” he said. “They love the attention, they love the investment because ultimately you play for the city, you play for the franchise.”

As for Jones’ role, with his first season in the books and first round of offseason preparation well underway, he figures to play a much bigger role in what moves the team makes.

With that comes the question of what the Suns will look for in terms of offseason acquisitions.

“We want the types of guys that can actually play in NBA games today and provide value and leadership and by example,” Jones said. “You’ll see us make moves and be strategic to bring in the right guys, but we won’t bring in names for the sake of bringing in names.”

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