The league is filled with great and storied franchises. Organizations built on stability and continued success. However, not every franchise can maintain that level of success and sometimes fall into a pit of despair. Here are 3 of the more dysfunctional franchises in the league right now.
The Phoenix Suns organization is one that has enjoyed its fair share of successful years in its history. Mostly during the mid-90s with Charles Barkley and then during the mid-2000s with the power duo of Amar’e and Nash. However, shortly after their brief runs of playoff contention, Nash found himself on the Lakers, Amar’e was on the Knicks and the “rebuild” begun. The problem, however, was that there was no actual plan in terms of the Suns rebuild. The Suns received first round picks 2013 & 2015 as well as second round picks in 2013 & 2014 in the sign and trade that sent Steve Nash to the Lakers.
Although Phoenix received a plethora of picks from the Nash trade, they haven’t turned into much. The Suns in general haven’t drafted well for the better part of a decade. In fact, five of their first round draft picks since 2013 aren’t on the team anymore.
Dragan Bender and Alex Len might have been their biggest missteps. Len isn’t on the team anymore and Bender isn’t even in the starting lineup right now. The team also hasn’t had much stability at the coaching position as of late. Since 2013, Phoenix has had six coaches. The dysfunction was so bad Earl Watson, who had taken over the coaching duties a year prior in 2016, was fired three games into the 2018 season. Current Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov isn’t fairing too well either, as the team is one of the worst in the league.
To make matters worse, Suns owner Robert Sarver might be the biggest problem with the whole organization. Since taking over the team in 2004, Sarver has been regarded as one of the league’s worst owners. He just recently threatened to move the team if the public doesn’t pay for a renovated stadium. Earlier this month, the city council voted on the potential $230 Million renovations of the 26-year-old Talking Stick Resort Arena. At a recent town hall meeting, Phoenix resident Greta Rogers went off on Sarver. The Suns currently have a few nice young pieces to build around in Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and T.J. Warren. However, until there is cohesion between ownership, front office and players, this franchise will continue to be in a state of mediocrity.
My new hero Greta Rogers dunked all over Robert Sarver 😳 pic.twitter.com/MbpEyIBO8V
— Andrew Joseph (@AndyJ0seph) December 13, 2018
The Chicago Bulls are one of the more well-known franchises in the NBA, in large part due to Michael Jordan and the Bulls dominance in the 1990s. However, since their last championship, the Bulls have been somewhat mediocre as a franchise. Currently, the team is in the cellar of the Eastern Conference and show no signs of competing this season. Earlier this month, the team fired head coach Fred Hoiberg after a 5-19 start. As a whole Hoiberg was 115-155 in three seasons at the helm.
Even after the firing things just got worse. The Bulls were completely manhandled at home by the Boston Celtics, losing by 55 points. Their worst loss in franchise history. But it isn’t just the on-court woes that trouble this franchise. The off the court issues ring almost, if not louder.
Directly after that 55 point loss, there were reports players were refusing to practice. The players had also filed a report with the Players Association about interim head coach Jim Boylen’s practice techniques. This isn’t the first time locker room strife has made it to the media. Last season, a locker room altercation between Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic resulted in Mirotic being sidelined with a broken jaw. Mirotic returned to the rotation later that season but was quickly shipped off to New Orleans.
The team just hasn’t been able to do anything with the talent it has had over the last few years. From Derrick Rose to Jimmy Butler to Pau Gasol, the Bulls have had some good teams that have just underachieved. Just recently Jabari Parker, who was acquired from the Bucks last year, fell out of the rotation and may be traded soon.
Player development is not something that comes to mind when you think of the Bulls franchise. Currently, the Bulls have a few good pieces as result of the 2017 draft night trading of Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. Lauri Markkanen, Zach Lavine Chris Dunn all show promise. The problem lies with the instability within the organization. If things don’t change soon the Bulls could be looking at a few more years of dysfunction.
New York Knicks
Arguably one of the most well-known franchises in all of sports, the New York Knicks are the staple of NY basketball. However, the organization has been in a state of despair over the past few decades. And it isn’t just one aspect of the franchise that has been dysfunctional. From ownership to players to GM moves, the dysfunction has resulted in the Knicks having the most losses in the NBA since 2000. One area to start with is the ownership.
The Knicks are owned by James Dolan. Dolan has had a history of caring more about the revenue the team was generating rather than the success, or lack thereof the team was having on the court. Or, in an effort to seem relevant throw money at people although they might not be the best fit
For as infamous as the Brooklyn Nets trade with the Boston Celtics was, the Knicks have had their fair share of front office and personnel blunders. Most notably the Eddy Curry trade back in 2005. The Knicks received Eddy Curry from the Chicago Bulls. In return, the Knicks gave up a 2006 first round draft pick, the 2007 and 2009 second round picks, and the right to swap first-round picks in 2007. The most notable players those picks turned into were LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah.
Another terrible trade was the Andrea Bargnani one in 2013. The Knicks received Bargnani from the Raptors for Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, a first-round pick in 2016 and second-round selections in 2014 and 2017.
More recently the Knicks’ experiment with bringing in Phil Jackson as President of Basketball operations was a failure. Although his tenure with the Knicks resulted in Kristaps Porzingis, everything else has been a dud. The Knicks missed on quite a few draft picks including the 2017 draft — when the franchise selected Frank Ntilikina instead of players like Malik Monk, Dennis Smith Jr, and Donovan Mitchell.
The icing on the cake for Jackson’s poor decisions was signing an injury-plagued Joakim Noah to a 4-year/$72 million contract in 2016. That turned out to be a bust as Noah barely saw the court. He was just recently let go by the team earlier this season.
With GM Steve Mills and new head coach David Fizdale, the Knicks have started taking the right steps to get out of the gutter. However, it may be a few years before stability is restored to one of the league’s most notable teams.