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NBA Daily: The Suns’ Decision Wasn’t Surprising

The timing of the Phoenix Suns’ decision to radically overhaul the front office might seem odd, but the ultimate decision shouldn’t have been surprising.



Wasn’t Really Surprising Was It?

The Phoenix Suns decided yesterday to blow out most of their front office staff, and while the timing of the decision was somewhat odd, the eventual decision shouldn’t have been shocking.

Before we get into what all of this means for the Suns going forward, it’s important to say that very rarely is a decision of this magnitude easy or arrived at based on one thing. It’s usually many things over the course of an extended period.

Every team in the NBA is constantly asking itself: Are we heading in the right direction? Are we improving?

In the case of the Suns, it was becoming clear internally that things were not lining up as hoped philosophically, and that continuing along the same path wasn’t going to yield the cultural improvements some hoped when they changed the coaching staff.

So, what’s all this mean going forward?

The Day Of The Nerd Has Ended

In NBA circles there has long been a belief that too many teams were chasing and empowering the “analytic guys” to their own detriment. While having smart strategic thinkers is incredibly important, there has been a growing sense that some of the “analytic guys” lacked the personal skills and the basketball pedigree to garner the respect of coaches and players, especially when it gets hard on a losing or struggling team.

The NBA is a copycat league, where teams try to emulate the successes of others by following their perceived blueprint. However, history has shown that very rarely works out, because the situations are not the same.

While it was vogue in NBA circles to poach the next bright young guy to lead a struggling team, the trend of hiring the “analytic guys” seems to have faded in favor of former players. The 76ers went with Elton Brand, and it seems for now the Suns are going with James Jones.

Sarver Is Very Involved

Suns majority owner Robert Sarver has been a hands-on guy for a while, but the word from Phoenix is he is getting even more involved day-to-day than ever before, which could be a good thing.

It is easy to be dismissive of an owner getting involved so deeply, but in reality, the hands-on owners tend to have more success than the Luxury Box owners. Equally, it has been a while since the Suns were a credible NBA franchise. Sarver rolling up his sleeves and getting involved might be more out of necessity given where the Suns find themselves.

The Suns Want A Real Point Guard

The Suns have been pretty aggressive in trying to trade for a top-shelf point guard. It’s been speculated that Ryan McDonough’s inability to get a deal done may have been the final straw, although sources close to the Suns said it really wasn’t one thing that prompted the change. It is, however, clear that with new voices at the helm, a trade search for a guard is going to ramp up.

The Suns have a couple of attractive, big dollar-ending contracts to bundle in with some interesting rookie scale players. The only thing they need is a team willing to deal.

There is a belief that the Suns will get involved in an eventual Jimmy Butler deal as a third team that could take on salary in exchange for a point guard. The Suns are believed to be high on Miami’s Goran Dragic and Minnesota’s Tyus Jones.

Dragic makes a ton of sense, but the HEAT seem unwilling to entertain it, and Jones isn’t exactly a “change the franchise” guy.

The problem for the Suns is there are not very many top-flight guards that look to be available, despite a very clear desire to trade for one.

While the timing of the Suns’ decision to clean out the front office was a little odd, it shouldn’t have been very surprising. Most of the staff had five years to get things on track.

And while the future in Phoenix is as bright as it’s looked in a while, the Suns aren’t going to be competing for much this year – which is likely the biggest reason for the change.

»In Related: Who still has cap space? How about cap exceptions? Check out the 2018-2019 NBA Salaries tool. The most accurate salary data anywhere.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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