National Basketball Association
Suns owner Mat Ishbia says franchise doing 'excellent,' expects starters to stay put
National Basketball Association

Suns owner Mat Ishbia says franchise doing 'excellent,' expects starters to stay put

Updated May. 2, 2024 8:56 a.m. ET

Mat Ishbia knows the offseason chatter around the Phoenix Suns is it's a team with a top-heavy roster, salary cap issues and precious little room to maneuver after a disappointing season.

The second-year owner doesn't believe it.

"The narrative that the house is burning is incorrect," Ishbia said. "The Phoenix Suns are doing great. Excellent. Not as good as we want to be. Not as good as we're going to do next year. And that's what we're going to figure out — what we've got to tweak, modify and adjust to win a championship next year."

Ishbia and Suns general manager James Jones talked with the media on Wednesday, three days after their team was swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was a weak performance by a franchise that had championship aspirations after assembling the All-Star trio of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal.


Ishbia — who splits his time between Michigan and Arizona — is back in the desert to do exit interviews and plot out the direction of the franchise for next season.

That includes deciding whether coach Frank Vogel will return for a second season.

Ishbia said he didn't want to get into Vogel's performance because he hadn't talked with him yet, but mentioned several times he'd like to maintain continuity.

Jones supported his coach.

"I thought Frank did a great job given the circumstances," Jones said. "We assembled a really talented team, primarily three scorers. Whenever you try to get guys to adjust and adapt their games, there's a transition time. It's sometimes a struggle, but I thought he did a great job this year."

Vogel had a tough assignment thanks to questionable roster construction. The Suns didn't have a true point guard — asking Booker and Beal to share that responsibility — and struggled all year with turnovers. They also had a thin bench.

Jones said the team would be open to adding more ballhandlers for next season, but it's got to be the right fit.

What comes next for Suns after T-Wolves sweep?

"Sure, that's great, but who do you want? Who is available given the way we're built?" Jones said. "Who can fit with this group? Whose game seamlessly fits with this group?"

The Suns' projected starting five for next season is under contract with Booker, Beal, Durant, center Jusuf Nurkic and guard Grayson Allen. Allen led the league in 3-point shooting percentage this season and averaged a career-high 13.8 points per game, but he suffered a sprained ankle in Game 1 against the Wolves and wasn't able to contribute much.

Ishbia said he expects all five starters back next season.

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The 35-year-old Durant continued to defy age with another stellar season, averaging more than 27 points per game and playing in 75 of 82 games. He's one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, but it's also fair to wonder how long he can play at this level.

Booker and Durant are among the 12 players who will represent the U.S. in the Paris Olympics this summer.

Booker — who Ishbia called the ‘face of the franchise' on Wednesday — averaged 27 points per game and made his fourth All-Star appearance.

"I think, over time, experience is the best teacher," he said after Sunday's loss. "The more you can spend time and feel this hurt together, go through it together, the better off you are in the future."

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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