Phoenix Suns aren’t tanking the season
by Paul Coro, USA TODAY Sports
Getting younger was the Phoenix Suns’ intent this season. Getting worse was not.
Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver said the team researched 25 years of NBA franchise methods and deemed that it was too much of an undertaking when teams tore their competitiveness all the way down to rebuild. The Suns might appear like a tanking team at times with what likely will become a third consecutive non-playoff season, the first time that’s happened in 25 years. That was not the intent after learning bottomed-out teams needed an average of eight years to be contenders again.
That data pushed the Suns to try to stay competitive with some veterans, such as Luis Scola, while getting younger, acquiring draft picks (they could have up to three first-round picks in June) and creating salary-cap space for future free agents and trades.
“I think we’re in position to execute our plan,” Sarver said. “It’ll be up to us to do that.”
Being in last place in the Western Conference was not the plan, although it could benefit them with a top-five draft lottery slot.
A 15-30 record and a starless ensemble has put a hurt on the Suns’ gate. Their attendance average of 14,826 ranks 25th and the 80.5 percent arena capacity is 22nd.
“It’s a struggle,” Sarver said. “We’d love to have fans try to grow with us. The reality is it’s tougher to sell tickets when the team is losing more games than we’re winning. We work at it every day. We try to offer the fans the most entertainment we can and service them the best we can. We have a lot of loyal fans and appreciate that. We’d love to have more, but I understand.”
Sarver said there has been little brushback from season-ticket holders during the Suns’ worst half-season in a quarter-century, and after Lindsey Hunter replaced Alvin Gentry as coach.
“There’s a disconnect between the criticism from local media and our fan base and national media,” Sarver said. “Fans are disappointed. I’m not saying they’re not. I’m disappointed. When you lose a lot of games, you’re going to have fans who are upset. But as … [For more on Phoenix Suns aren't tanking the season, click here.]