OK everyone. Count to 5 while inhaling. Hold it for 3 seconds. Then let it out while counting to 5 again. Repeat.
We're all ready to flip off the handle and predict doom and gloom again.
But let's be rational for a minute, and make sure we're looking at this logically. Despite reports, there's no certainty Sarver tried to force Steve Kerr to shop at TJ Maxx for the next 3 years. And there's no certainty that Kerr's absence will have any impact on the Amare negotiations. or the Frye negotiations or that the Suns will not make the right decision on that front.
Why? Because recent evidence suggests otherwise.
Three months ago, a minor story was Aaron Nelson's contract expiring this summer. Fans of Nelson's work - the man who kept Shaq, Nash, Amare, Grant Hill, etc healthy - were certain he'd bolt for greener pastures once cheap-ass Sarver insulted him on a new offer or ignored him completely. Fans were sure Nelson's days were numbered, and as a result Suns players would start living on the DL.
Wrong. Aaron Nelson re-signed this spring, with a big smile on his face.
Last summer, Grant Hill was being courted in free agency by the Knicks and Celtics, reportedly because he was insulted by the Suns initial offer. We all expected Hill to go to greener pastures - more money and/or more wins.
Wrong. Grant Hill re-signed, for a little less money than he was offered by the Knicks but more than Boston offered. And he was happy.
Last summer, Steve Nash had an early-termination clause and could bolt the cheap-ass Suns and Sarver for greener pastures if he wanted. He also was reportedly insulted by the Suns' initial contract offer. Good bye, Steve. Damn you Sarver. The Suns would be left high and dry with no PG.
Wrong. Nash signed an extension - the max years allowed at his age (2 years, if in any year the player turns 36), at a value price of 22 million for those 2 years. And he was happy with the result.
Three years ago, Suns Asst GM David Griffin was offered the Memphis Grizzlies GM job. This was the summer that Kerr signed on as rookie GM, getting more money and power with no experience than Mr. Griffin who had paid his dues and deserved a shot as full GM. Oh woe are the Suns. Cheap ass Sarver wouldn't offer Griffin a boatload of cash to stay. Griffin was sure to bolt, for more respect, money and power.
Wrong. Griffin stayed and has not grumbled about leaving since.
I could go on and on, but here's my point:
You absolutely CANNOT get value if your first offer to the player/employee is the biggest and best you can do. By definition. And you cannot keep payroll down if you're constantly pre-empting competition by paying through the nose. Just ask James Dolan and the Knicks. They made an art form out of overpaying - and look where it got them. Ask Mark Cuban. How many rings does he have for years of overpaying? Hell, look at Peter Holt with the Spurs last summer. They panicked about fading too early, and overpaid Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess by A LOT to got for one more ring. Where did that get them?
Sure there's "low", and there's "too low", but every initial offer (especially if you're currently the only bidder) should be lower than you could ultimately afford.
And how have the Suns done lately, with cheap-ass Sarver?
The Suns salaries this past season for players who PLAYED for the Suns, was about $64 million. At 64 total wins (regular season plus playoffs), that's a million per win. The year before, it was $75 million for 46 wins.
Sarver is definitely a cheap-ass.
But he's also smart, and business-oriented. And in the recent times, that attitude has gotten the Suns into a more successful PLUS more solvent position.
Not hatin'. Just statin'.
Robert Sarver has taken a lot of flack over the years for being cheap. Selling draft picks, the botched Joe Johnson contract, cheap rosters, and forcing Kerr to trade Kurt Thomas in return for the honor of giving the Sonics two first round draft picks.
Not all of that criticism is fair, some is.
Now Kerr is gone and we are getting mixed messages why.
The highly reliable Johnny Ludden and Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo! Sports say that Kerr was asked to take a 10% pay cut, "as is being asked of other Suns staffers whose contracts are up at the end of the month" (via Coro blog).
Sarver, largely through his relationship with the Suns flagship radio station, is saying that Kerr was not asked to take a pay cut at all and Kerr denied his departure was in any way related to his contract negotiations.
The bottom line, with the history and reputation that hangs over this organization (some fair, some not): it is up to Sarver to prove that he's committed to winning and willing to pay for it.
The bar isn't Mark Cuban high, but if in fact Kerr was allowed to leave over a contract dispute, the repercussions will be felt for a long time in Phoenix and they start with Amare.
Whether giving Amare a max deal is the right thing to do or not, there's no way it will be seen outside the lens of this latest move. Sarver has backed his reputation in a corner and the only way out is to pay Amare. Unfortunately, giving Amare a 6-year deal worth approximately $125m might be the easy short-term answer that haunts the organization down the road if Amare doesn't deliver.
A real pickle.
One thing Sarver can do and fast is tear up Coach Gentry's contract, which paid him less than almost any other coach in the NBA. Gentry's earned the right to be paid at least near the league average and should be given a three year deal (his current deal has two years remaining).
Moving fast on a new contract for Alvin would go a long way towards demonstrating Sarver's commitment to paying for performance instead of cutting for savings.