ESPN: Suns owner has history of 'yelling,' 'berating' coaches, front office

Posted at 4:28 PM, Oct 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-09 22:29:39-04

On the heels of the firing of the Phoenix Suns general manager, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Suns managing general partner Robert Sarver has a history of being confrontational with Suns coaches and members of the front office.

Sarver, who announced Monday that he has relieved Ryan McDonough of his role as Suns general manager, "has earned a long-standing reputation for aggressively involving himself in basketball decisions," Wojnarowski reported Tuesday.

Wojnarowski added Suns coaches "became accustomed to regular beratings and demands of strategy and lineup changes" from Sarver, and "rival executives could sometimes hear Sarver yelling in the background on negotiation calls with the Suns' front office.

"Agents tell stories of private conversations involving Sarver without the front office's knowledge," Wojnarowski reported.

SEE ALSO: James Jones reportedly the favorite to become Suns new GM

The Suns declined comment on the ESPN report, but during an interview with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Monday, Sarver addressed reports that he is among the NBA's most hands-on owners when it comes to on- and off-court decisions.

"At the end of the day, when you own a business and you run a business, you're responsible for it. It's just kind of what it comes down to. But in terms of, am I a micromanager? No," he said. "Am I involved in what's going on? Yeah. Do I like to try to figure out if I could add the proper resources and get the right tools in place for the people that work for me to be successful? Yes. I've had people that worked for me that have been very successful, and some haven't been as successful.

"The general manager works in concert with the people he has working for him in order to arrive at those (personnel) decisions… I guess if you’re asking if it works the opposite, do I go out and say, 'Let’s sign this guy,' or, 'Let’s draft this guy,' the answer is no."

Sarver was also questioned about the timing of the decision to fire McDonough, as the announcement came just nine days before the Suns' regular-season opener.

"The fact that we had to make a major coaching change at the beginning of the season, and the fact we have made a general manager change, you know, I do think reflects on me. It doesn’t reflect well, and I take responsibility for that," he told 98.7 FM. "So, is that ideal? No, that’s not ideal. My job is to try to get the best people in place and make it help the organization as best as possible.

"Turnover is not a good thing, but I’m not going to do what I think is right for the organization because of how it’s going to be perceived."

Sarver is confident the timing of McDonough's firing won't hinder his ability to find a quality replacement, noting the Suns have a young core of talent, including No. 1 overall draft pick Deandre Ayton, who should be able to attract quality candidates.

"First of all, there are only 30 of these jobs in the whole world, so there is no shortage (of options)," he said. "No. 2, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, they’re going to be good recruiting pieces for anybody to join this organization."

A Tucson native, Sarver is a real-estate investor and University of Arizona alum. He purchased the Suns in 2004 for $401 million.

The Suns advanced to the playoffs in five of Sarver's first six seasons as owner, and they advanced to the Western Conference Finals three times during that span. But the Suns haven't made the postseason since 2010, the longest draft in franchise history. They posted a 155-255 record during McDonough's five seasons as general manager, including 68-178 in the past three seasons.