Suns owner Robert Sarver has only had one winning season over the last nine years following the mass exodus from the 7 Seconds or Less era. During that timeframe, the Suns have gone from perennial contender to perennial loser at the bottom of the standings. And over the last four years, the franchise has nosedived to the point of four straight seasons with fewer than 25 wins.
However, the summer of 2019 might signal change for the first time during Sarver’s ownership spanning 15 years.
The owner of the Suns before Sarver took over, Jerry Colangelo, spoke on Arizona’s Sports Station Tuesday about the recent hiring of Monty Williams. Surprisingly enough, Sarver reached out to Colangelo for the ‘first time in a long time’ to inquire more about how Williams would fit in Phoenix.
“I did hear from Robert Sarver,” Colangelo said on Burns & Gambo. “I was in Europe and I hadn’t heard from him in a long time and he asked me what I cared to share with him about Monty and I said he’s the whole package.”
Wow, this is interesting to say the least.
Over the last few months, Sarver has seemed to change his tune as it revolves around involvement in basketball operations — and it’s definitely for the greater good of the franchise. The Suns’ owner is preparing himself to possibly take a step back, letting GM James Jones and their new head coach in Williams do their jobs with full autonomy provided.
For Williams to even accept this position, he had to know that Sarver would be different. Not only did Williams ask Sarver tough questions, but so did the Suns’ owner apparently.
“Number one, in my conservations with Mr. Sarver, I saw someone who didn’t duck the tough questions,” Williams said Tuesday at his introductory press conference. “We both had tough questions for each other. And in this day and age where people throw each other under the bus, make excuses, blame, I didn’t see that. I saw a man who really wants to bring success to this city. I mean that will all my heart, or I wouldn’t have come. James and I are a lot alike. We just want to do the right things. I saw that with Mr. Sarver.”
No more than 15-20 minutes after his press conference ended, Williams could be seen with the headphones on in Talking Stick Resort Arena’s pavilion talking to 98.7 FM’s Bickley & Marotta. When asked about Sarver, Williams let it be known Colangelo was the one advocated for him to accept the position in Phoenix.
“Mr. Colangelo was the guy that really pushed me to work for Mr. Sarver and that said a lot because most people would think they wouldn’t get along and that’s contrary to what the reality is,” Williams said.
Colangelo sold the Suns to Sarver back in 2004, but it’s a great sign that these types of conversations are actually occurring. It means that not only did Phoenix conduct their coaching search correctly, but their owner actually reached out to important figures to vet on the situation.
Again, this seems to be a change nobody really saw coming less than a year ago. And after paying up more for Williams than any of their previous first-time hires, especially on a 5-year contract compared to only three years, it’s definitely being noticed.
“At the end of the day, when you take a guy with great character — which he is, he’s as good as they come — who has that kind of a background as a player, who had incredible adversity that he overcame — everyone knows that story now about his heart condition and told he would never play again — and then his coaching record,” Colangelo said of the Suns’ new head coach.