We knew it was only a matter of time before we started hearing from the Suns star players. Amare, through his agent, has made his disappointment known and now Steve Nash spoke directly to Yahoo! Sports on the matter.
Nash expressed his disappointment in Kerr leaving and also once again said how much he hopes Amare will return to the team. He's a guy used to being the underdog, though, and said that even if Amare doesn't return, he's hopeful the team will be able to compete up to its fullest potential -- whatever that is.
He also dropped this bit of fuel on the "Sarver is cheap" fire, saying,
"Steve (Kerr) had opportunities that were better. I don’t blame him. I wish it was in our budget to maybe keep him around, but what can we do? I can’t get too deep into (it) or else it will become a total detriment."
This little slip of the tongue from Nash flies in the face of Sarver's attempt to soothe angry fans with an hour-long appearance on KTAR radio today.
Sarver, who has yet to actually deny offering Kerr a pay cut, responded to an angry caller who asked the real reason why Kerr had a sudden and unexpected change of heart about coming back to the Suns as GM.
Here's a portion of the exchange:
Caller: Three weeks ago Steve Kerr said he wanted this job, he was excited, he was looking forward to signing. A week later he walks away from it and out of nowhere all these changes happen. And then on top of that, an 18-year employee who does a great job walks away, as well. So now the facts tell me that something had to happen between when he said he was excited to come back and wants to come back and then steps away from it and then Griffin walks away from it. So there's some grey area that's not making any sense here.
Sarver: Well, there's always a little gray area and at the end of a season when you sit down to talk about a contract or just do year-end evaluation with someone, there's a lot of discussion and it is gray and all I'm going to say publicly is that Steve did a very good job and I wish him well.
Dave's been here for 17 years. I was big fan of Dave. When I bought the basketball team, Dave was serving in a capacity much different than he's served the last few years. Dave was promoted up through the organization and I was a big fan of his and helped him grow in his career and now he's going to pursue other things.
But, you know at the end of the day you're not going to get all the truth and you're not going to get it out of me and there are certain things that are better kept private, so I'm not going to give you all the details you're looking for.
There's more to everything than what you read when you pick up a newspaper. My commitment is to make this basketball team as good a basketball team as possible. For the last six years, we've had the third best winning percentage. We're one of three teams that's won its division title three years and gone to the conference finals three years. My job is to have a great product. I'm not out to win the press conference and I'm not out to win the editorial boards. I want to have a good product and I'm committed to moving forward to do that. I spend the money to do that and so far we've been able to do it.
So, on one side you have various reports about Kerr being offered a pay cut and going to bat for his staff and you have Nash clearly saying that budget played a role in Kerr's departure. On the other hand, you have Sarver resting on the team's record and citing all the money he has spent.
The Suns have had a top 10 payroll for the past 3 or 4 years and have been a luxury tax player. While other teams (Lakers, Cavs and Celtics) have spent even more, it is not fair to say that Sarver hasn't been willing to spend on players.
That's where this entire mess still resides in a "gray area". It is too simplistic to think that Sarver would let Kerr and Griffin walk over what in the scheme of things would be a small percentage of the team's overall payroll and yet if the owner felt like he had done enough and dug his heals in, then that very well could have been what pushed those guys out the door.
Although taking what Nash said about the budget, along with other things I've heard in off-the-record conversations, there is little doubt that money played some role in this.
Sarver made it clear that whatever the issue is, it goes beyond Kerr's stated desire to spend more time with his kids, even though I am sure that's part of the equation. If the team's owner doesn't want the truth to come out, then we will be left with the thin gruel of rumor and speculation.
Sports franchises are not like other businesses. They hold a special place in the community and, in many cases, rely heavily on taxpayer dollars for assistance in funding their arenas.
Robert Sarver can choose to withhold the truth of this story, but there's a price in that, too.
A large portion of Robert Sarver's radio appearance can be heard here (via Sports 620 KTAR).