As a father of an almost two year old I spend more time watching kids movies than I do watching basketball.
While trying to figure out how to express my feelings towards the chaos that was this week on the Planet formerly known as Orange, my daughter decided she wanted to watch ‘The Incredibles’.
About midway through the movie the line that summed up everything I was feeling was said in passing.
“I’m not happy Bob. Not happy.”
It’s not that the idea of Ryan McDonough losing his job was incomprehensible. He had just as many moves that left you scratching your head as left you excited. He obviously communicated about as effectively with players as a mime with his hands tied behind back. He once employed three all-star caliber point guards before employing none of even a starting caliber. Oh, and he whiffed on two top 10 picks in the same draft. (Yes, that’s right. I’ve sold my beach front property on Bender Island.)
That said, he also left the Suns in a much better position for the future than he inherited five years prior. A fact that Sarver himself admitted during an interview with the team’s flagship station Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. They have more young talent than the Mickey Mouse club in the 1990s. Drafting Devin Booker was a stroke of genius. Strategically tanking brought Josh Jackson — a potential difference maker — and a potential generational center in DeAndre Ayton.
But just because parting with McDonough made logical sense doesn’t mean the timing did.
The idea that McDonough deserved to be fired and that Sarver picked a horrible time to do it aren’t mutually exclusive. Both can be correct at the same time. And both are.
How does letting your general manager go after a summer in which he drafted the No. 1 overall pick in a draft where it wasn’t a true consensus pick, traded your best future asset for a second lottery selection, hired a new head coach and added veterans make any sense?
One way is if Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones and Sarver himself had more say in every move this offseason than we were led to believe. If that’s the case, it showcases a bigger problem than the firing itself. It means the pattern of the organization hiring a guy as an understudy only to inherit the job shortly after their arrival has reared its ugly head again. It happened when Lindsey Hunter joined Alvin Gentry’s staff as a player development coach only to undermine his boss and jump over other qualified candidates to become interim coach. A similar fate befell Jeff Hornacek and his assistants when Earl Watson came to town. That’s before even mentioning the bizarre circumstance that led to the firing of Hornacek’s top assistants before he himself was shown the door leading the way to Watson’s ascension.
If Jones was heavily involved and he’s the leader in the clubhouse to get the job, why not just fire McDonough after the season and let Jones fully put his stamp on this team from the get go?
The answer is simple, it’s because things start at the top. Chaos has been the hallmark of the Suns since Joe Johnson was short changed and forced his way to Atlanta. The only common denominator? Sarver himself.
He’s a man who gets the moniker of being cheap and then offers any employee who makes a half court shot $10,000 at a holiday party. He’s viewed negatively and then decides to give away team merchandise in the arena pavilion to hundreds of underprivileged kids when the gear was supposed to be part of a Team Shop sale. He’s the boss that claims he’s going to be hands off and then screams during meetings. He’s the person who says hi to you and then moments later grabs your credential and asks if you work for him. He’s the guy who genuinely wants to win and yet makes decisions that impedes the team’s ability to do just that.
Phoenix’s once most proud franchise is now a shell of its former self. It’s now viewed as one of the worst in the NBA. A team in disarray off the court despite having young talent on it. The type of laughing stock that used to be reserved for the lesser team in Los Angeles. And, no matter what the owner says publicly, that perception is 100% the reality of things.
Which means the only thing left for any of us in Phoenix to say is simply, “I’m not happy Bob. Not happy.”