The one thing fans like is action ... and potential. Making a lot of moves tends to be popular because it's what fans want to see. They want things fixed now and have little patience for long-term plans or giving players time to develop and improve together as a group. Phoenix Suns Managing Parter Robert Sarver is a fan, so it's no wonder his team has been the NBA's model for volatility.
Yesterday's huge trade moved Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu, two players who accounted for 23 percent of the total minutes played by Suns this season and were responsible for 27 percent of the scoring. That's a massive shakeup under any definition when you change one-quarter of your team in the middle of the season. That comes on the heels of an offseason where three new rotation players were added to the mix and Amare Stoudemire was allowed to leave.
Let's look at some of the changes in Phoenix since Sarver took over the team seven years ago in July 2004:
- Four coaches in seven years
- Four general managers (five, if you count Lon Babby)
- Four significant in-season trades, 21 total trades
- Only two players have been on the team more than three seasons (Hill and Nash)
- Only one player has been on the Suns roster the entire time Sarver has been in charge -- Steve Nash
Taken as individual decisions, most of the moves (except for the Shaq trade) made sense. But as a whole, it paints a picture of the kind of instability that championship teams don't see.
The Suns are hardly done making moves, either. The roster is still too loaded with wing players and the team is essentially marking time until Steve Nash finally asks to be dealt or he hangs up his kicks.
To be fair, of course, Sarver's Suns have been to the Conference Finals three times, have been to the playoffs all but one season, and have a winning percentage of .665 (344-173).
At some point, however, Robert Sarver is going to have to find a core group of players and a stable front office and coaching staff and repress his urge to act on every opportunity that comes along. This transactional style of leadership will have to give way to a long-term more strategic approach. It can be difficult to sit back and do nothing, but sometimes inaction is the best decision.