Report: Phoenix Suns organization is in 'a spiral in almost every way'

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The <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/phoenix/" data-ylk="slk:Phoenix Suns">Phoenix Suns</a> organization is reportedly “in a spiral in almost every way,” something that is turning heads throughout the entire NBA and the league office. (AP/Ralph Freso)
The Phoenix Suns organization is reportedly “in a spiral in almost every way,” something that is turning heads throughout the entire NBA and the league office. (AP/Ralph Freso)

The Phoenix Suns have held steady at the bottom of the NBA in recent years, and this season is no exception.

The Suns currently boast a 12-50 record, by far the worst record in the Western Conference and the worst in the NBA as a whole.

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Apparently, however, the organization’s struggles go far beyond any on-court issues. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, speaking on the latest “Woj Report,” detailed the disfunction throughout the Suns organization that is reportedly turning heads throughout the entire league.

“This is an organization that is in a spiral in almost every way,” Wojnarowski said. “It’s a concern for the NBA. Owner Robert Sarver has not seemed to learn a lot of lessons through the years about his management style, his hands-on nature and his ability to put an infrastructure in place and allow it to build an organization.”

On the surface, that’s a bold statement to make. Claiming that an owner’s leadership is truly that bad that it is causing other prominent leaders in the NBA to have concern isn’t something that’s heard very often.

However, when looking at the Suns’ success under Sarver, or lack thereof, it’s not that crazy of a statement.

Sarver bought the Suns in 2004. While they had a good stretch initially — reaching the playoffs consistently behind Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal and Amar’e Stoudemire under coach Mike D’Antoni — it’s been rough since. Phoenix has had just one winning season since 2010, and will miss the playoffs this year for the ninth straight season. They are on their fifth coach since D’Antoni left in 2008, and their third general manager.

Phoenix hasn’t won more than 24 games in a season in the past three years, either, and the team could easily miss that mark again this year with just 20 games left on their schedule.

They aren’t just consistently losing, however. Phoenix has had ample opportunity to bring in quality players to turn the organization around, yet there has been little-to-no improvement. They had the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft, the No. 4 pick in both 2016 and 2017, and the No. 13 pick in 2015.

While James Jones is the interim general manager — he replaced Ryan McDonough this year — and can’t be blamed fully for the team’s struggles, it sounds like he isn’t scouting much at all in preparation of having what will likely be an extremely high pick in the 2019 draft. 

“Jones has had a rather unorthodox view toward the NBA draft,” Wojnarowski said. “There’s not a lot of scouting going on in Phoenix. He’s not on the road a lot.

“I’m told that [Sarver has] considered the idea of hiring a president of basketball operations that would perhaps oversee James Jones. He hasn’t started on interviewing candidates for that, but it certainly is a consideration and probably a pathway to at least get somebody in Phoenix with the experience, the résumé, of running an NBA organization, running it successfully.”

Sarver certainly can turn the Suns around and bring them back to prevalence in the NBA. But that without a doubt starts with hiring a qualified president of basketball operations and making a great selection in the draft this summer. Researching the draft class thoroughly beforehand seems like a given.

If they don’t, however, it could be more of the same in Phoenix next season — and for the foreseeable future.

“There’s no question from the league office to teams around the league, there’s a lot of raised eyebrows at Phoenix and how they’re operating right now,” Wojnarowski said. “This is another crossroads for Robert Sarver to figure out how to get this team from really a state of disrepair back on the path to relevancy even before they consider the idea of being contenders again.”

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