Storyline: Phoenix Suns Turmoil?

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After the game, Booker and Melton were having a fun conversation in the locker room as cooler heads had prevailed. Still, Booker didn’t hesitate when it came to talking about Melton’s turnovers when asked about his frustrations with the rookie point guard. “I told him the court don’t move,” said a grinning Booker. “P.J. Tucker used to do that all the time (to him). I used to hate it, but it’s just part of the game. It’s a learning experience. Just knowing the floor and how to run the floor on the wing. He’s usually a point guard and probably never been in the corner that much. It’s a tough learn, but he’ll pick up on it.”
6 months ago via ESPN

One longtime former player remembers the owner barging into the locker room following a loss to officiously instruct big men on how to set better screens. A former assistant coach was floored when Sarver confronted his boss on the way from the court to the coaches’ office immediately after the buzzer to berate him on his substitution patterns. Another former coach was taken aback when Sarver marched into the head coach’s office at halftime and insisted the team run a trap at an opposing point guard who had abused the Suns’ defense.
6 months ago via ESPN

McDonough was regarded as less capable at communication, people skills and fostering relationships with players. There’s a strong sense that McDonough, in a characterization that was made by several sources, prioritized job security ahead of personal conviction. Though Sarver had a tendency to meddle, sources say McDonough’s struggles to forcefully make his case on strategy and personnel matters demonstrated his ultimate failing as a GM: an inability to manage an owner.
6 months ago via ESPN

“There’s a perception of what a GM is and what a GM does, that you have to log the hours and open up the laptop. I’ve never purported to be that guy,” Jones says. “I think it would diminish what Trevor does. He’s a star when it comes to the cap, scenario planning, contracts and negotiations. And he’s been really good the whole time he’s been here. We have different responsibilities. My primary focus has been to manage and improve the performance and relationships within our different units: our coaching, performance team, development. The players — that has been my focus.”
6 months ago via ESPN

Jones is universally regarded as bright, but there’s a collective sense that he lacks the curiosity or hunger that a relative novice in such a position should display. Former players such as Elton Brand, Malik Rose and Sean Marks throw themselves into every facet of basketball operations, from the G League to cap strategy. In contrast, sources say, Jones seems content to defer to Bukstein. Jones also relies a great deal on another young front-office associate who was initially hired as a liaison between former coach Earl Watson’s staff and the analytics department, but has less than two seasons’ experience in the NBA. Sources say that much of the Suns’ front office finds this confounding.

The Suns extended what is usually a 10-minute cooling off period to almost an hour talking about, well, they didn’t reveal what they discussed. “We’re just going to keep everything in-house,” Suns 18-year veteran Jamal Crawford said in a calm, relaxed voice. “We had a nice talk. That’s it.” The locker room was initially opened after the 10-minute cooling off period, but the media was asked to go back outside. Another 40 minutes went by before it was open again. Hmmm.

Phoenix’s top two players, Booker and Ayton, exchanged words after the 10-minute cooling off period as members of the media entered the visiting locker room for the tail end of that conversation. These two have had words before on the court, with Booker correcting Ayton on what to do on certain plays. Both have agreed to hold players accountable, but this felt different. “I’m an emotional guy, too,” Ayton said. “I start to feel stuff. When I don’t sense it and the energy is not there, that’s when you start to hear my mouth. I don’t care who it is. Nineteen-year vet or 15 years, it don’t matter. We all have a job to do and I have to step it up a little more, too.”

From Jamal Crawford, one of the more positive players in the NBA, slamming the ball on the floor at the end of the third quarter to the friction on the bench between Bridges and Kokoskov, the frustration was apparent. “How long have you been around basketball,” Suns veteran Trevor Ariza asked a reporter in a calm voice when asked what the conversations are like on the bench when trailing by 25 after the first quarter. “So what do you think the conversation would be like after that? “Probably not very positive.” Ariza laughed. “Exactly,” he said. “Not too happy, but again, that’s on us for not playing hard.”

Booker isn’t certain how to make this happen, but he knows the Suns need to establish the type of closeness that allows them to get on each other. “All good teams have that trust and chemistry where you’re able to get on each other and know it’s for a better purpose,” Booker said. “I don’t think we have that right now. We’re not comfortable with each other. Step on each other’s toes. We don’t push each other. I think that’s what we need to do.”
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August 18, 2019 | 7:41 pm EDT Update