The Suns shocked the basketball world on Monday morning, firing general manager Ryan McDonough less than two weeks before the beginning of their 2018-19 season.
Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver joined 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo to discuss why.
“It culminated where we were heading into the summer,” Sarver said of the decision, which he made on his own. “We discussed a number of opportunities I felt like were realistic in terms of what progress would look like and, ultimately for me, the rate of progress wasn’t there where I thought it needed to be.”
Sarver noted the “hyper-competitive Western Conference” and cited the last six months of McDonough’s performance. The Suns, armed with good young talent Sarver acknowledged, won a league-low 21 games in the 2017-18 season.
“I didn’t feel we achieved all what we sat out to achieve [this offseason],” Sarver said.
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“I think we’re at the end of a rebuild,” he said. “For me, the switch has flipped and it’s now time to start figuring out how to win.”
When asked of if doing the move nine days before the start of the season was odd, Sarver did not agree.
“No, I don’t,” he said. “As I said, there’s no ideal time.”
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Sarver denied discussing specifics of moves that potentially led to the firing.
“I just felt like we kind of started to plateau and I wanted to make a change to facilitate our next step,” he said.
“I just felt we could be a little farther along today in terms of coming out of [a rebuild.]”
Sarver does not believe the move being so close to the season will bring any negative effects on the team’s performance.
“Players play, coaches are going to coach and I don’t think it’s going to be any kind of major disruption or anything,” he said.
That theme continues on to bringing in a replacement for McDonough, who is replaced on an interim basis by vice president of basketball operations James Jones and assistant general manager Trevor Bukstein.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in James and Trevor [Bukstein] right now on an interim basis,” he said, noting he is in “no rush” to hire a new GM.
McDonough, hired in May of 2013 to work alongside holdover Lon Babby, the then president of basketball operations, oversaw head coaching tenures of Jeff Hornacek (2013-16), Earl Watson (2016-17), Jay Triano (interim, 2017-18) and Igor Kokoskov (present). The team went 155-255 over that span.
The Suns have not made the postseason since 2010.
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