Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver has spoken about the debacle that the 2011-12 season has become. In a story found on AZCentral.com, Paul Coro brings us some quotes from Sarver who has been relatively quiet this season, at least to the public.
Sarver is not saying much, but sometimes we can speak volumes with what we do not say, yes?:
(on the season thus far) "...I'm disappointed...I think we haven't performed up to the level of our potential. If we want to be a playoff team, we have to make up ground and definitely hold the fort better (at home). I think we can make up the ground but we've got to start winning more at home...I think we're potentially a playoff team but we're going to have to show it."
Potential? What potential? To have potential you have to have enough talent to build expectations. The Suns are clearly lacking in talent, that is no secret. So did Sarver really have playoff expectations?
Sarver is pointing a finger here, but it isn't clear who specifically he blames. Obviously the team has had some nice flashes, but the overall result is poor play, 14-20, 13th in the West.
The team is made up of individuals, so who exactly isn't performing up to their potential? Well let us search the roster...
Obviously you can't blame Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, or Marcin Gortat. That's a given. Nash IS the Suns, Hill is playing lights out D as usual and defying age, Dudz is giving 110% as usual, and Gortat has spent most of the season leading the league in field goal percentage, and the Suns in rebounding and points. No, no disappointment there. Oh yes, Josh Childress. Very disappointing season for Chill, right? In his 13 minutes per game, we should be seeing much, much more production out of him, right? And Hakim Warrick? Enough said. Oh and Shannon Brown, the career journeyman (6 teams in 6 seasons) who has some rings from hanging out with Kobe Bryant? The career 41% shooter, and 8 ppg game guy whose averaging 8 ppg and shooting 3.5 percentage points lower than last season? If Brown was going to be a star, it would have happened. He couldn't beat out Jared Dudley for the 2 guard spot.
And while we're at it let's just add in the rest of the cheap additions to this year's squad: Telfair and Price. Disappointing? Of course. However, that doesn't mean that there was talent or potential. Did you expect Sebastian Telfair to be the Suns future PG? No. To stabalize the second unit? Well, maybe we were hoping, but no, not a realistic expectation. He couldn't do it anywhere else, could he? How about beat out Ronnie Price definitively for the backup job? He couldn't even do that.
Alright now, let us get down to brass tacks here. Robin Lopez. Is Robin Lopez averaging career lows in nearly every category? Yes. Is he a disappointment? Yes. But he was last year. And every moment since the 2010 season ended. We all hoped that Lopez could rebound from injury and poor play this season, let's be honest, weren't the odds less than 50/50 that he could return to the same form as when he started alongside Amare Stoudemire?
Channing Frye. Disappointing season this far? Yes. Did we have higher expectations? Yes. Does he have the potential to be better? Absolutely.
So, in summary, our good players are playing good. Channing Frye has played most of the first half of the season in disappointing fashion. This leaves Brown, Childress, Price, Telfair, Lopez, and Warrick as disappointments who haven't played to their potential. Or, they haven't integrated into the group to cumulatively form a better team.
But, they aren't good NBA players. So, if you take a bunch of medicore to bad NBA players and throw them in with a few good players, what do you think is going to happen?
What's my point? There are a few. First off, Sarver clearly isn't accepting any blame for the poor accumulation of talent on this team, and he certainly isn't calling out Lon Babby and Lance Blanks (if Blanks has actually been let in the building yet). He is not talking about the lack of talent on this team. Which, to me, is the biggest disappointment of this season. The Suns were never formed to make the playoffs. The were formed to cheaply round out a roster with some vague hope that something magical could occur. Well, it hasn't and I don't think it will.
But if Sarver thinks there is talent on this team (outside of the SteveDuHillTat), then perhaps what he is saying is that Alvin Gentry and Co haven't done a good enough job. If the talent is there, but the execution and results are not, who do you blame?
Here's a little something that hits home with you and I:
"We could use a couple thousand more people in the arena," Sarver said. "It helps encourage the players and helps the home-court advantage. But winning at home helps to encourage fans to come out."
Good point. Alvin Gentry pointed this out, and we all know that home court should be an advantage, and that is due in part to playing in a friendly environment. But...I'm just spitballin' here...Would you pay good money to watch a few guys perform well but inevitably lose because the majority of the team just isn't very good? Sorry for the way things work here Mr. Sarver, but we won't come just because you built it. You need to build it well. Oh, and you shouldn't get locked into a war over money for several months with other millionaires while the little people are forced to bear the brunt of your greed. That tends to sour some people away from the game.
I suppose the good news here though, is that at least Sarver is coming out and admitting he isn't happy with what is going on. And perhaps that will reaffirm his commitment to improve the roster some time soon. Then again, if he looks up and down his roster and thinks this team is a playoff contender, well then...Ah, nevermind.