In an interesting, in-depth piece for ESPN.com, Kevin Arnovitz explores the Suns‘ front office, going into detail on the messiness and dysfunction in Phoenix over the last several years. Within the story, Arnovitz makes the case that the Suns have “no discernible direction,” as the roster, front office, and coaching staff have all undergone frequent changes since the club’s last playoff berth in 2010.
Arnovitz’s report includes several notable notes and rumors on the Suns – plus a terrific story involving live goats – and is worth checking out in full, but here are a few of the highlights:
- After speaking with nearly two dozen NBA insiders, including current and former Suns players and employees, Arnovitz suggests that there’s a general consensus on some of the factors plaguing the franchise. He describes them as follows: “An interventionist owner (Robert Sarver) with more authority than expertise, a front office marred by instability, an undermanned scouting department, and a dated facility that isolates the decision-makers from the players and coaches.”
- While former Suns GM Ryan McDonough was described by Arnovitz’s sources as having a “deep knowledge of scouting and information-gathering,” his communication and people skills weren’t considered to be as strong. Arnovitz’s sources also believe McDonough tended to value job security over his personal convictions, and would be more likely to defer to Sarver than to forcefully argue his case on personnel matters.
- The “final straw” for McDonough’s tenure in Phoenix was his inability to fill the point guard spot during this past offseason, sources tell Arnovitz.
- While co-interim GM James Jones has received praise for his ability to communicate with players, he’s often not in attendance at strategy and scouting meetings, deferring to fellow co-interim GM Trevor Bukstein, who is more a cap specialist. While Jones tells Arnovitz that he doesn’t want to get in Bukstein’s way, Phoenix’s front office structure has confused rival teams, who aren’t necessarily sure whom to call when they want to do business with the Suns.
- The Suns parted ways with several members of the scouting department when they dismissed McDonough in October, and haven’t replaced those execs and scouts, per Arnovitz. Jones has the authority to hire replacements, but has elected not to do so. “One thing to think about was whether or not the size of the scouting staff was adequate, and whether they were efficient or productive,” Jones said. “It’s more than having people flying all over the country just to say that we are visible and say we were there. If you’re utilizing more video and technology, you may not need as much manpower and man-hours.”
- Although Arnovitz has spoken to some execs who agree with Jones’ stance on scouting, others believe it “denigrates the value of information that can be gathered on-site” at a time when lottery picks are Phoenix’s best road back to contention.