KTAR620 Arizona Sports writer Craig Grialou had a chance to talk to Sebastian Telfair in a conversation that was quite revealing as to how Telfair felt his situation was handled.
"I'm bitter," he said. "I'm a little bitter. I don't have nothing personal against (my former teammates), love them guys but I'm bitter. I'm a little bitter. For one, I got to pick up and leave my family, my kids. Forget the business part of it, I've got to leave my kids home, by themselves now and I'm all the way in Toronto so (expletive) yeah, I'm bitter.
Sebastian Telfair is bitter. I'm not surprised. I think I might be too.
First he got benched, but still said he wanted to remain in Phoenix (disclaimer - he also mentioned that if he were traded he would like to go to a contending team). Then the Suns traded him to a lottery team when he wanted to go to a contender. Sure he has friends there, but I think most basketball players want to compete more than hang with their buddies.
"I think last year we competed a lot better. I understand they're going in a new direction, but I wished we would've known that this summer. I really can't understand it. I'm not mad at nobody, but I don't understand it."
My first takeaway was actually about our "positive" culture. Of course it's a business but when the Suns keep professing that they are a destination and are changing the culture, it doesn't hold the line when ex-players are calling them bush league. Let's not turn this into a pity party for Telfair, though. This isn't a charity or YMCA league. The Suns need to develop youth and a draft pick helps more than letting Telfair's contract expire. Telfair wouldn't be the first malcontent to rail out against his former team but to be honest, I didn't think the Suns handled the situation well either.
Like Kris Habbas of BSotS said when he and I first discussed the culture change, "Not all change is good."
Suns GM Lance Blanks would disagree with a pernicious change sentiment, as evidenced by him speaking out about the team improving the culture and developing fertile soil for players directly after the move that sent Telfair to the Raptors. Lance and I may have slightly varying viewpoints.
I still find it hard to believe that the Suns couldn't have gotten a second rounder from a playoff team, so I found it interesting that he landed in Toronto.... but a second rounder from a lottery team could be a lot better than a contending one. Plus there's the Haddadi factor. That's huge.
This just adds to a series of questionable moves and adds scrutiny to the way the Suns have handled player and personnel moves. There appears to be a problem with the way the Suns have handled the dialogue with both players and coaches that have been casualties of the attrition and changing of the guard this season. The list of players and coaches that have felt alienated by the team this season continues to grow.
In the final analysis though, this is a business and Telfair should (and I believe does) know that. Sometimes you have to suck it up and sometimes it's better to remain reticent than openly bitter. Recent departures by Gentry, Nash, Hill, and Stoudemire were definitely handled more diplomatically and professionally. I understand that Sebastian's feelings are hurt, but he could, and probably should, have acquitted himself in a more favorable light.
So is this another case of mishandling player relations or is it just the business side of the NBA? Maybe it's both and they are just inseparable because of the nature of the beast.