Only NBA Commissioner Adam Silver can save the Phoenix Suns
Attention, Adam Silver:
You’re the best commissioner in sports. You’re sympathetic and sensible. And now Phoenix needs your help.
We need an NBA intervention.
The Suns are a disaster trapped inside a dumpster fire. They entered Friday’s game with a dubious distinction, outscored 70-18 in the first quarter of their previous two losses. They are the first team to score nine points in successive opening quarters since the advent of the shot clock.
We’re witnessing arguably the worst stretch of basketball in team history. The Suns are breaking the worst of records. Chaos is their currency and their only consistency.
The past is littered with egregious mistakes, compounding the malfeasance that preceded the 2018-19 season. You have access to great information. You know better than anyone. But if you haven’t paid attention as of late:
The owner fired his general manager just before the season started, even though Ryan McDonough laid the groundwork for a real head coach (Mike Budenholzer) and a pre-draft trade that would’ve delivered a real point guard (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander).
Apparently, Robert Sarver wanted neither.
The interim GM, James Jones, is the latest on the clown carousel. He has done nothing of substance in two months. He gifted Tyson Chandler to the Lakers rather than peddling his expiring contract at the trade deadline. He cut Shaq Harrison, the best point guard on his roster. The scouting department has been trimmed to the point where the Suns are noticeably absent on the road.
Their head coach, Igor Kokoskov, is getting swallowed alive by a team he can’t reach. It’s painful to watch and somewhat predictable.
Kokoskov doesn’t have a dynamic voice that can cut through millennial clutter. English is not his first language, and he’s unable to seize the room with his rhetoric. His communication skills are insufficient for the big chair, especially with such a young team.
He’s trying to reach children with rationale and reason. He was hired for offensive concept and design and denied a legitimate point guard. His tenure was doomed before it began, and the proof is right in front of you:
Their No. 1 overall pick isn’t motivated and plays soft. Their other first-round pick just got into a sideline dust-up with Kokoskov that looked really bad on television. Their disrespect for the head coach is shocking, feeding the losing culture that has permeated the walls.
We have waited nine years for this team to restore the civic roar, to uphold the rich legacy once forged by Jerry Colangelo. And nothing ever changes.
“C’mon man, you’re all embarrassing me,” Charles Barkley said from the TNT studio.
They’re embarrassing all of us.
There’s a reason why Sarver keeps firing key executives in fits of petulance. Because he keeps hiring the wrong people, the ones who come cheap, without experience and are wholly controllable.
Wouldn’t a smart man try something different? See the error of his ways, especially when his desire to win is so apparent?
Yes, he would. Unless that owner is trapped in his own vicious cycle, chained to the tyranny of ego, of always having to be the guy in charge, always calling the shots.
As NBA Commissioner, you work with great owners, humble servants and those who mistake wealth for intelligence. You’ve kicked one of them out of the league forever. And you know the worst kind of owner is the one who must always claim ownership.
We’d all like to believe our luck will change organically, that Jones has something special up his sleeve. His kinship with LeBron James is intriguing, maybe even leading to an audience with Kevin Durant. But Sarver once raved about Lance Blanks and Lon Babby. He once hired Lindsey Hunter and Earl Watson. He’s a banker and a businessman and woefully incompetent in matters of basketball. The record speaks for itself. What are the odds that he’s right this time?
The latest dysfunction comes at a tenuous time. Our city council will vote next Wednesday on a deal that would renovate the Suns’ arena, and the numbers look reasonable: $150 million in public funding and $80 million contributed by the team. That’s a fair price to keep the Suns in Phoenix until 2037.
But not under these circumstances. And many are wondering why we should help fund a team that only embarrasses us and makes the owner filthy rich?
So, please, Mr. Commissioner. Take a look under the hood. Send in a consultant or a Colangelo before another decade passes without a playoff berth. Before it gets even worse.
The city of Phoenix deserves a professional basketball franchise that acts the part. And so do you.
Reach Bickley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.