Earlier this morning, ESPN released their anticipated alleged expose on Phoenix Suns managing partner Robert Sarver.
The report is deep, dense and alleges a number of direct inappropriate actions by Sarver during his tenure. The report also includes denials and feedback from Robert Sarver through his legal team, answering a number of questions directly related to many of those allegations.
The allegations include both named and unnamed sources alleging Sarver used the "n" word, allegations of fostering a toxic work environment and allegations that as managing partner Sarver was directly and indirectly involved in claims of sexual harrassment.
The Suns previously issued official denials of the allegations before they were published. As of the writing of this blog post, the Suns have not had any official statement and cancelled the media availability for players and coaches that was scheduled for this afternoon.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the NBA is now planning to launch their own investigation.
My personal opinion is that the next immediate steps will largely be dependent on how current players respond to this story. If Robert Sarver is supported by current members of the Suns roster, this story will likely continue to be drawn out slowly over the next few months. If any member of the Suns roster voices their grievances against Sarver there will likely be an immediate acceleration of consequences for his actions.
Another potential option would be for Robert Sarver to recognize the severity of these accusations and effectively settle with the NBA, declaring his intentions to step away from the franchise and work with the league to sell the team and find a new owner. This would allow Sarver to maintain his innocence so that he may conduct business in other areas while avoiding the potential long term damage of an official NBA investigation.
Finally, Sarver could decide to fight until the bitter end and prove his innocence of any wrongdoing. While it seems incredibly unlikely, it is a remote possibility.
An NBA franchise cannot function if there is real doubt about the intentions of its owner. If players and agents view the Suns as a toxic situation because of this report, whatever momentum the Suns franchise created by reaching the NBA Finals will quickly disappear.
Right now, things do not look good for Robert Sarver and the Suns. The next few days will be critical to helping separate fact from fiction.
As owner, Robert Sarver has seen his fair share of losses with the team but if some of these allegations prove to be true, this would be the biggest and last loss of his Suns career.