Mat Ishbia Says Decision On Frank Vogel Coming Soon

A decision about the future of Suns head coach Frank Vogel will likely be made in the next few days, writes Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

Owner Mat Ishbia refused to pledge his support for Vogel during a press conference today at Footprint Center. However, he added that rumors about Vogel, players or other team employees shouldn’t be given any weight because in-person discussions haven’t begun.

“We’re going to evaluate everything,” Ishbia told reporters. “… Everything is on the table to evaluate. We have just not started it.”

Vogel, who was hired last June, still has four seasons left on his five-year, $31MM contract so a coaching change would be an expensive move. Vogel claimed over the weekend that he has “full confidence” from Ishbia, but the Suns’ ugly performance while being swept by Minnesota may have changed the team owner’s view.

General manager James Jones, who also spoke to reporters, indicated that management understands Vogel had a challenging task in trying to mold the talents of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, who were in their first full season together.

After an up-and-down start, the Suns finished with a surge and avoided the play-in tournament with a win on the final day of the regular season. They went 49-33 and appeared to be on an upswing before crashing in the playoffs.

“I thought Frank did a great job given the circumstances,” Jones said. “I thought the staff did a great job. I thought the players did a really good job, just not good enough to reach our goals.”

Ishbia also expressed optimism about the direction of the franchise, which he believes is on a path to success despite the postseason setback. He said he can identify with the disappointment from Suns’ fans because he feels the same way.

“I feel like the narrative around [here is] the house is burning, it’s incorrect,” Ishbia said. “… Fans like to look in the future and say, ‘Hey, I really like that 2031 draft pick because maybe that seventh grader is going to be really good and we’re going to draft him and one day he’s going to be a player.'”

Ishbia pointed out that Phoenix will have a first-round pick in five of the next eight drafts, even though some of those are pick swaps. He added that two of those picks are eligible to be included in trades this offseason.

Holmes notes that the Suns already have $209MM committed for next season, which is the largest salary in the NBA and would result in a $116MM tax penalty. They will be well above the second apron for the next three seasons if the core of the team remains together.

Ishbia looked on the bright side of that situation, saying that the starting five is under contract for multiple years, providing continuity no matter what happens with the rest of the roster.

He identified the team’s major issues as injuries and the time it takes for players to get used to being together and said both are “extremely fixable.” He also defended the trades for Durant and Beal, saying both players are worth the price it took to bring them to Phoenix.

“It was never, ‘We’re going to win a championship this year or we got to blow it up,” Ishbia said. “… Championship or bust, this isn’t bust. We’re in a great position. We’re going to be in a great position next year.”

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