Robert Sarver

Western Notes: Kawhi, Suns, Grizzlies, Omoruyi

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has been ruled out for two more games, with the team deciding that the veteran forward won’t travel to Houston and San Antonio for games on Wednesday and Sunday, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Leonard, who continues to deal with stiffness in his surgically repaired right knee, has already missed Los Angeles’ last four games.

“He’s frustrated,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said before Monday’s game vs. Houston. “He wants to be out on the floor and then not being on the floor, and then now he can’t travel. He wants to travel, but the doctor said it’s not the right thing to do right now with the stiffness and what he is going through.”

Although Lue said that Leonard is feeling a little better, it remains unclear whether he’ll be available on Sunday, when the Clippers return from their brief road trip to host Utah.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • The potential sale of the Suns is complicated by the fact that Robert Sarver only owns 35% of the franchise, while owners of 60% of the team’s shares don’t have “tag-along” rights, explains Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. That means that those minority shareholders won’t necessarily have to sell their stakes in the franchise when Sarver does, though he could require it as part of a deal. Prospective buyers aren’t sure what path Sarver will take, according to Kaplan, who suggests that the valuation of the team would spike if minority shareholders aren’t obligated to sell — in that scenario, a buyer would be able to gain controlling rights of the Suns while only purchasing 40% of the franchise.
  • The Grizzlies‘ increased focus on three-point shots isn’t just about analytics, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. It’s also about helping Ja Morant thrive by opening up more space on the floor. Memphis is 11th this year in three-point attempts per game after ranking 23rd last season, and in games when the team makes at least 15 threes, Morant is averaging 40.3 PPG and 8.0 APG.
  • Thunder two-way player Eugene Omoruyi has seen some action in the early part of the 2022/23 season, appearing in four of the club’s six games so far. Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman takes an in-depth look at Omoruyi’s unique path to the NBA.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Westbrook, Fox, Silver, Suns

It’s only a two-game sample, but the Lakers’ shortcomings are already in full view, according to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. Their lack of perimeter shooting and depth at the wing has been noticeable in those losses. The Lakers have made just 13-of-58 3-point attempts (22.4%) in which the nearest defender is at least four feet away. The lack of wing depth was on display when they tried to guard Kawhi Leonard with a combination of Russell Westbrook and Juan Toscano-Anderson.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers need to move on from Westbrook immediately, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times opines, arguing that they would have defeated the Clippers if he hadn’t played or been on the roster. His poor shooting, reckless play and divisive personality will continue to prove costly on a team that otherwise looks feistier than last year’s, Plaschke adds.
  • De’Aaron Fox signed a five-year extension in November 2020 and he hopes to continue his relationship with the Kings for many seasons, as he told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “I’ve never been the type of person that wants a big market,” Fox said. “(So) if I can go to a small market, and then win, those are the types of things that I feel like are more important to me. It’s being able to bring winning back to the city. That is definitely my goal.”
  • Commissioner Adam Silver met with Suns employees before their game against Dallas on Wednesday and expressed regret for the misconduct of owner Robert Sarver, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN. Sarver is now in the process of selling the team. “I’m incredibly empathetic to what many of you have lived through,” Silver said to those employees, who gathered in the lower bowl of the team’s arena hours. “To the extent that you feel let down by the league, I apologize. I take responsibility for that.”

Pacific Notes: Suns, Sarver, Lakers, Davis, J. Green, Ballmer

After handing Robert Sarver a one-year suspension and a $10MM fine following the investigation into the Suns owner’s workplace misconduct, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told some concerned players that he considered having the league’s Board of Governors vote on Sarver’s fate, but had some legal concerns about the process, report Baxter Holmes and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN (Insider link). Instead, Silver repeatedly spoke directly to Sarver in an effort to encourage him to sell the franchise.

As Holmes and Shelburne outline, Sarver was upset by his punishment and questioned why it was more severe than the one Mark Cuban received following an investigation into the Mavericks’ front office in 2018. Silver explained that the differences stemmed from the fact that Cuban wasn’t accused of misconduct himself.

While persistent nudging from Silver may not have been enough on its own to convince Sarver to sell, the Suns were facing the prospect of losing several key sponsors if he remained on as the team’s owner. Sources tell Holmes and Shelburne that nearly 30 sponsors are up for renewal after the coming season, including PayPal, which issued a statement calling for Sarver’s removal. There were indications that many companies would follow PayPal’s lead and put out similar statements.

“The walls were closing in on (Sarver),” a source close to the process told ESPN. “A group of sponsors were all moving towards this common position.”

After Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reported last week that a “high-end estimate” for the sale price of the Suns could be $3 billion or more, ESPN’s duo is hearing the same thing. Multiple sources who spoke to Holmes and Shelburne, noting that the NBA has rebounded well from the impact of COVID-19 and has a new TV deal around the corner, predicted that the franchise could sell for more than $3 billion.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • As he preaches defensive effort and intensity to his new team, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said on Tuesday that he likes the fact that multiple starting lineup spots are for grabs in training camp, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are locked in as starters and Russell Westbrook will “absolutely” join them if he shows the effort Ham is looking for on defense, but that would still leave two spots open. “I think it adds a little spice to camp, and LeBron and AD, they are who they are, as well as Russ, those guys are going to go at them,” Ham said. “That’s only going to make everybody better. It’s a controlled competitive environment.”
  • Davis told reporters on Wednesday that he was affected last season by a wrist injury that he suffered in January, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The Lakers‘ big man added that it’s not an excuse for his poor three-point shooting (18.6%), but that it affected the follow-through on his shot.
  • According to head coach Steve Kerr, the Warriors viewed JaMychal Green as a “critical” offseason addition because he adds some much-needed veteran experience to a young bench. Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area has the story.
  • Steve Ballmer of the Clippers remains the richest owner in sports, according to a report from Forbes, which estimates Ballmer’s net worth at $83 billion. Robert Pera of the Grizzlies ($17.6 billion) and Dan Gilbert of the Cavaliers ($17.3 billion) are the other NBA owners who rank in Forbes’ top 10.

Suns Notes: Ayton, Sarver, Williams, Jones, Booker, Crowder

Suns center Deandre Ayton said that owner Robert Sarver’s suspension and $10MM fine was much deserved, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes.

“At the end of the day, the actions are unacceptable,” Ayton said. “My thoughts go out to all the people that were affected by his actions.”

Coach Monty Williams and GM James Jones said they were blindsided when the investigation revealed the depth of Sarver’s actions within the organization, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

“I was in disbelief,” Williams said. “When you see the bullet points and then when you go through it, um, you start to think about how these things impact the people.”

“I would say just a state of shock,” Jones added. “You don’t want that around the organization. You don’t want that to be the issue.”

We have more on the Suns:

  • Devin Booker is happy that the Suns matched the Pacers’ offer sheet for Ayton, he told Rankin. “I’m excited for him,” Booker said. “That’s a weight lifted off his shoulders. You understand that this isn’t just basketball. It comes down to business at some point. The only way you can learn and understand those situations is if you’re in them. I think he learned a lot.”
  • Jae Crowder will sit out camp as the team seeks a trade for the veteran forward. Jones said the situation is a “difficult” one, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports tweets. “It’s a team thing for us,” he said. “This is a difficult situation to navigate.”
  • Where will Crowder wind up? Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype tackles that subject and believes the Cavaliers, Sixers and Hornets top the list of potential suitors.
  • The fact that Sarver announced the franchise is up for sale doesn’t mean that the issues uncovered during the investigation and the backlash the league experienced after revealing its punishment have been erased, Windhorst opines.

Suns Notes: Purchase Price, Sarver, Roster, Rowley

Now that Suns majority owner Robert Sarver has officially announced his intention to sell the team following a year-long investigation into decades of workplace misconduct, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic examines how much a desirable, championship-caliber NBA franchise like the Suns might cost a potential buyer. Sarver will also be selling the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

According to Vorkunov, an “early high-end estimate” for the Suns and Mercury could be $3 billion or more. As Vorkunov explains, there are several factors that could push the sale price well beyond the latest valuations (around $1.8 or $1.9 billion), including a belief that the big-market team hasn’t been run especially well under Sarver. As the controlling owner for both clubs, Sarver will earn the biggest slice of the pie, whatever its ultimate price turns out to be.

There’s more out of Phoenix:

  • Though the departure of Sarver is an encouraging step for the Suns and the league at large, Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated writes that, because he’s ultimately departing without being forced by the league’s other owners and is set to become potentially billions of dollars richer in his exit, the disgraced team owner’s “punishment” doesn’t feel like real justice.
  • The Suns will have some issues to address on the court this season beyond the off-court Sarver drama that is now mostly behind them, opines David Aldridge of The Athletic. Potential chemistry issues between head coach Monty Williams and re-signed starting center Deandre Ayton and the disappointing playoff finishes of All-Star guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker are the chief puzzles facing the team itself heading into the 2022/23 season. Phoenix will have to contend with a crowded Western Conference this year, and will face an uphill battle to return to the NBA Finals.
  • Suns CEO Jason Rowley addressed staff members during a conversation with all the team’s employees on Wednesday, reports Baxter Holmes of ESPN. Rowley indicated during the call that interim governor Sam Garvin would stay on in that position while the sale of the team was underway, and that Sarver would have no involvement with anyone in the organization, per the terms of the one-year suspension. “I’m beyond happy, I’m empowered and I’m motivated to continue to ensure that all of the men in that organization still in power who upheld this culture are rooted out,” said one Suns employee who took part in the investigation that would ultimately lead to Sarver’s decision to sell.

Pacific Notes: Sarver, Sale Reaction, Lakers, Kings

Robert Sarver has announced his intention to sell the Suns and the NBA’s Phoenix Mercury, but it’s not likely to be a fast process, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Sources tell Shelburne that it could take months to go through the process of getting a new ownership group in place. Sarver has been suspended for a full year, so vice chairman and minority owner Sam Garvin will continue to run the team until a sale is complete.

Although Sarver only owns about one-third of the franchise, he has the authority to sell the team because of his role as managing partner, sources tell Baxter Holmes of ESPN (Twitter link). Sarver, who has owned the Suns since 2004, is expected to profit significantly from the sale, with the potential price possibly topping $2 billion.

Appearing on NBA Today (video link), Holmes relayed a statement from one Suns staff member that read, “To be honest it just felt like justice! Like we can finally heal and know we won’t be working under that type of leadership. I swear there will be tears when senior executives are held accountable!”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA president CJ McCollum have both endorsed Sarver’s choice. “I fully support the decision by Robert Sarver to sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury,” Silver tweeted shortly after Sarver’s announcement. “This is the right next step for the organization and community.” McCollum echoed those thoughts in his statement, writing, “We thank Mr. Sarver for making a swift decision that was in the best interest of our sports community.”
  • The Lakers‘ trade talks with the Pacers continued this week, but they’re not willing to meet Indiana’s demand of two unprotected first-round picks, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link). The Pacers have been seen as a possible destination for Russell Westbrook, with L.A. hoping to land Myles Turner and Buddy Hield in return. The Lakers only have two first-rounders that they can offer — in 2027 and 2029 — and Charania expects the team to be cautious about moving them. He points out that L.A. has a “long runway” with Westbrook and can wait to see how the season plays out rather than rushing into a deal. Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan said earlier today that Turner will be with the team when the season begins.
  • Kings general manager Monte McNair has constructed this year’s roster around two players on their second NBA contracts, De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, notes James Ham of Kings Beat. Ham says it’s a welcome change from continually trying to build the franchise around young prospects.

Robert Sarver To Seek Buyer For Suns

Suns owner Robert Sarver has begun the process of seeking a buyer for his NBA franchise, as well as the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, he announced today in a statement.

Following the recent conclusion of an investigation into allegations made by current and former Suns employees, Sarver received a one-year suspension and was fined $10MM for workplace misconduct, including racist and misogynistic comments.

In today’s statement, Sarver said that his remarks and actions, as described in that investigation, now overshadow the work he has done with the Suns, the Mercury, and professional basketball in Phoenix.

“I do not want to be a distraction to these two teams and the fine people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world,” Sarver said. “I want what’s best for these two organizations, the players, the employees, the fans, the community, my fellow owners, the NBA and the WNBA. This is the best course of action for everyone.”

While Sarver claimed that he “deeply” regrets the comments he made to employees and plans to “work on becoming a better person,” the statement also paints him as a victim — he expressed disappointment that he wouldn’t be able to “make amends” and return to the Suns following his one-year ban.

“In our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that that is no longer possible – that whatever good I have done, or could still do, is outweighed by things I have said in the past,” Sarver said. “For those reasons, I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury.”

The one-year suspension and $10MM fine levied against Sarver by the NBA was widely viewed as insufficient, with stars like LeBron James and Suns guard Chris Paul among those who expressed a belief that the league’s sanctions fell short. NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio subsequently stated that the players’ union felt as if Sarver should be banned from the league for life.

There was concern that imposing an indefinite ban on Sarver or attempting to force him out as the Suns’ owner would open the door to an ugly legal battle for the NBA. Sarver’s decision to willingly sell the franchise should bail out the league and his fellow owners, who would have had to vote to remove him if the NBA attempted to force him to sell.

Even if Sarver feels has no other choice but to sell, he stands to financially benefit in a major way. He bought the Suns for $401MM in 2004. Recent estimates from Forbes and Sportico projected the current value of the franchise at approximately $1.8-1.9 billion.

Those valuations have historically undershot a team’s true value, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Suns ultimately sell for $2 billion or more. As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets, league executives have long felt that Phoenix – a warm-weather destination not far from the West Coast – could become a “monster” free agent destination with the right ownership group in place.

Pacific Notes: Iguodala, Schröder, Westbrook, Sarver

The Warriors anticipate that longtime veteran leader Andre Iguodala will announce his return to the club, writes Marc Stein on Substack. Iguodala has previously suggested he will publicly reveal his decision during an upcoming episode of his podcast Point Forward, co-hosted by his former Sixers teammate Evan Turner.

Stein reports that Golden State expects Iguodala, who has won four titles with the team, will be back for his 19th NBA season in 2022/23 rather than opting to retire, but is prepared for either outcome. The Warriors top off their 2022 training camp earlier than most other teams, as they will be playing exhibition games abroad.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Elsewhere in his latest Substack piece, Stein suggests that the Lakers consider Russell Westbrook and new addition Dennis Schröder to be their top two point guards. Sources inform Stein that the Lakers see the 6’1″ Patrick Beverley, who started as a point guard alongside shooting guard D’Angelo Russell last season with the Timberwolves, as a swingman who can defend and shoot from long range, rather than a point guard, heading into his 11th NBA season. Stein writes that L.A. intends to use Kendrick Nunn, Austin Reaves, and Lonnie Walker at the shooting guard or small forward position instead of point guard.
  • Earlier today, Schröder led his native Germany to a win over Poland to secure a bronze medal in this year’s EuroBasket contest, per Eurohoops. The 6’3″ Lakers point guard scored 26 points on 7-of-10 shooting. “That was the goal of the federation, of coach Herbert and for the team and it’s an unbelievable feeling to win a medal in a Eurobasket,” Schröder said after the game. Schröder’s performance in tournament play this summer reportedly helped his cause in free agency.
  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver seemed uncomfortable at being forced to defend the misbehavior of temporarily suspended Suns team owner Robert Sarver in a Wednesday press conference, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. Sarver has been banned from having any role with either Phoenix basketball club he owns, the Suns or the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, for the 2022/23 season.

NBPA’s Tremaglio: “Absolutely Calling” To Ban Sarver For Life

In an interview with ESPN’s Malika Andrews on NBA Today (video link), NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio, confirming that she was speaking on behalf of NBA players, said that Suns owner Robert Sarver should be banned from the league for life, writes ESPN’s Baxter Holmes.

Sarver received a one-year suspension and was fined $10MM for workplace misconduct, including racist and misogynistic comments.

We are absolutely calling for that [lifetime ban],” Tremaglio said. “We do not want him to be in a position where he is managing or engaging with individuals who are engaging with our players or the players themselves. We are absolutely clear from the findings that are in the report that we do not want him to be in that position.”

Tremaglio also confirmed to ESPN her previous tweet stating that she’d spoken to commissioner Adam Silver about the NBPA’s stance that Sarver should never hold a managerial position again, but wasn’t sure how open Silver was to changing his mind, despite increasing pressure from minority owners, sponsors, and stars like Lakers forward LeBron James and Suns guard Chris Paul.

Andrews asked Tremaglio if the players were considering boycotting games in the wake of the report and subsequent suspension, but she said there had been no discussions on the matter yet, noting that players are focused on the upcoming season. However, she reiterated that “our players are incredibly upset” about the news.

Their hearts go out to the families and all of the individuals who have actually had to endure this for such a long period of time. But, at the same time, they recognize that they have a job to do and they are really excited about moving forward with the season,” Tamaglio said.

Quite frankly, I know that we never want our players to be in a position where they are unsafe or individuals that they are around are unsafe. Mr. Sarver had the ability to set the tone at the top. And for us to have individuals that are in a leadership role impacting the game in that way is detrimental to the success of our players and the safety of our players and that will not be tolerated,” Tamaglio added, per Holmes.

As ESPN’s Zach Lowe noted in an earlier appearance on NBA Today (video link), a lifetime ban for Sarver is not the same as forcing him to sell the team.

According to Lowe, it’s legally possible that Sarver could retain ownership of the team but be barred from participating in all other aspects of Phoenix’s operations, even if that would be an unprecedented and seemingly untenable situation. Three quarters of the league’s owners would have to vote Sarver out to force him to sell, but that seems unlikely because of a potential lawsuit, Lowe added.

Robert Sarver Notes: PayPal, City Of Phoenix, Silver

PayPal, whose logo is featured on the Suns‘ uniforms as part of the NBA’s jersey sponsorship program, issued a statement on Friday announcing that the company won’t continue its agreement with the franchise beyond the 2022/23 season as long as owner Robert Sarver remains involved with the team.

[RELATED: Suns’ Robert Sarver Fined $10MM, Suspended One Year]

“We have reviewed the report of the NBA league’s independent investigation into Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and have found his conduct unacceptable and in conflict with our values,” PayPal CEO and president Dan Schulman said in a statement. “PayPal’s sponsorship with the Suns is set to expire at the end of the current season. In light of the findings of the NBA’s investigation, we will not renew our sponsorship should Robert Sarver remain involved with the Suns organization, after serving his suspension.”

PayPal’s announcement comes on the heels of Jahm Najafi, one of the Suns’ vice chairmen and minority stakeholders, calling for Sarver’s resignation.

As Baxter Holmes of ESPN relays (via Twitter), Phoenix mayor Kate Gallego and some city council members also put out a statement announcing that staffers will open an investigation into the situation to see if there’s any actions that city leaders can take in response to the report on Sarver’s misconduct.

Here’s more on the Sarver saga:

  • While many league sources who spoke to Howard Beck of SI.com this week expressed frustration over Sarver’s relatively light punishment and commissioner Adam Silver‘s subsequent explanation, it’s possible the one-year suspension and $10MM fine won’t be the “final word,” Beck writes. As Beck observes, if NBA players, the public, and corporate sponsors continue to put pressure on the league to take stronger action, it’s possible the Suns’ minority owners and/or the other 29 team owners will in turn put pressure on Sarver to sell the team.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic views Silver’s Wednesday press conference as the lowlight of his tenure as commissioner, suggesting that Silver seemed unprepared for some of the tougher questions he faced and that his performance “had the impact of pouring gasoline on a brush fire.” However, Hollinger believes that Silver could salvage the situation by spending Sarver’s one-year suspension working behind the scenes to try to get the Suns owner to sell.
  • Although Silver can’t force Sarver to sell his team, he could’ve imposed a suspension longer than one year on the Suns owner, Beck observes. It’s possible the NBA was wary of a potential lawsuit if it had handed Sarver a multiyear ban, Beck adds.