Judging by most reports, the union between Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns seems over and all that’s left is for him to be traded. Combine that news from Monday with the Sunday firing of coach Earl Watson and the Suns are in a state of flux.
* Recap: Suns 117, Kings 115
Yesterday, Suns GM Ryan McDonough spoke with the media and tried to explain the state of the team and, in particular, what led to Watson’s firing. Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic has more:
Fewer than 24 hours after coach Earl Watson was fired and fewer than three hours after disgruntled point guard Eric Bledsoe was sent home, Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough said the organization was undergoing a “reset.”
“This is a turning of the page,” McDonough said.
What a tumultuous first week of the season it’s been for the Suns. They’re 0-3, including the worst loss in franchise history and a 42-point loss to the Clippers. On Sunday, Watson was fired as coach and assistant Jay Triano was named interim coach.
“I’ve pretty much seen it all now in my years in the NBA,” said guard Devin Booker, who’s beginning his third season.
McDonough said Watson’s firing was due in part to the team’s poor start but also a strained relationship with Phoenix’s front office and ownership. He added that his working relationship with Watson “wasn’t great.” Late last season Watson said it was management’s decision to sit center Tyson Chandler for the final 25 games of the season and Bledsoe for the final 15.
“There was a lack of alignment organizationally,” McDonough said. “I just think we’re different people with different approaches.”
McDonough said he made the recommendation to fire Watson to Managing General Partner Robert Sarver, and Sarver quickly agreed. Sarver was not available for comment Monday; McDonough said he had a banking meeting.
McDonough said the decision to fire Watson, whose contract runs through the 2018-19 season, was based on an evaluation over the past 18 months. He said the front office had “a number of meetings” with Watson over the summer to talk about player development and accountability but, “We didn’t see those changes. You guys saw the first three games. There was a lack of development and a lack of individual player improvement and growth. We realize we’re a young team and an inexperienced team, but at the same time we expect a baseline level of organization, effort and strategy. And I felt like we had fallen short in those areas.
“We expect to be competitive and for the guys to play hard and be put in positions to be effective offensively and defensively and we didn’t feel that was getting done. We thought it was time for a new voice and direction.”
Booker said he was surprised and upset Watson was fired after just three games but added: “It’s a business. We understand that.” Booker also said it’s wrong to fault Watson for the Suns losing two of their first three games by at least 40 points.
“As players, you can’t blame two 40-point losses on the coach,” Booker said. “It comes with effort, love of the game, and we haven’t shown that yet.”
Asked why, Booker replied, “Honestly, we’re looking for the answers.”
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