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Suns’ Dudley, former Cavs GM Griffin riff on perception of Phoenix

(AP photos)

There are rumblings across the NBA about the perception of the Phoenix Suns.

Team owner Robert Sarver has a reputation as an owner who will meddle and the team is going through an eight-year playoff drought. Despite the success of the franchise over its 50-year existence, that shadow continues to loom over the Valley’s NBA team.

Two figures with the Suns over the time of Sarver’s ownership, forward Jared Dudley and former Suns vice president basketball of operations David Griffin, joined 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta to discuss what they see and hear as the perception of the team and Sarver specifically.

“When Steve Kerr and I left the June that we did and they subsequently started kind of reworking things, I think maybe there was a period of time where Robert was infinitely more involved and that’s sort of because he had to be,” Griffin said. “I think he got more involved at that time. I don’t know where that’s gone, I don’t know what it looks like now.”

Griffin was in the Suns organization from 1993-2010 before moving to the same position with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“I think what makes it difficult to sell the situation is what’s perceived as an overall organizational lack of stability, and I don’t think it’s fair to necessarily say that it’s a Robert issue nationally as much as it is, you haven’t been successful, you’ve gone through a lot of coaches,” Griffin said.

Dudley, who was with the Suns from 2008-13 and has now been with the team since 2016, elaborated on Sarver.

“Over my time, Sarver is less involved when it comes to being around the team as much,” he said. “He was around all the time when I was there — and I didn’t dislike it. I hung out with Sarver, I have a great relationship with Sarver. When I talk to him, his assessment is he’s trying to do all the right things, trying to see, hey, do I need to be in the front, do I need to be in the back? Do I need to let my general manager take it? I think that through his experience he’s learned a lot.”

Dudley expressed how a rebuild has made things different compared to the times when the Suns were a contender and Griffin expressed the same struggle of the Suns trying to build an identity.

“There’s not really there there nationally — nobody knows currently what it means to be a member of the Suns,” he said. “You could have said the same thing about the 76ers if they didn’t come up with this incredible narrative about The Process. While they were in the process of winning 10 games a year, there was no there there either and now they’re the darlings of the league.”

At the end of the day, though, whether it’s whispers about Sarver or the Suns’ culture, all that matters is the lack of winning when it comes to how the Suns are viewed across the NBA.

“To a huge degree, this is a results-oriented thing and that’s what shapes peoples’ perception,” Griffin said.

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