Phoenix Suns timeline: Year of Robert Sarver, records, Game 7 heartbreak, off-court drama

Duane Rankin
Arizona Republic

A timeline of low and high moments for the Phoenix Suns for the past year.

Oct. 18, 2021 — Suns sign Mikal Bridges (four years, $90 million) and Landry Shamet (four years, $43 million) to rookie extensions.

Oct. 21 — Suns fail to reach agreement for rookie max extension for five years, $172 million, or any extension at all, with Deandre Ayton going into season opener.

Oct. 21 — Chris Paul makes NBA’s 75th anniversary team.

Oct. 30  Suns begin a franchise record 18-game winning streak that continues until Dec. 2.

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver walks to his seat during the third quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Footprint Center in Phoenix on April 10, 2022.

Report: Suns team owner Sarver created 'toxic' work environment

Nov. 4 — ESPN posts story that detailed allegations of racism and misogyny against majority owner Robert Sarver, claiming he created a “toxic” work environment during his then 17-year tenure as team owner of the Suns. The NBA later launches an investigation.

Nov. 5  — Sarver denies allegations in a 1-on-1 interview with The Republic, saying, "I’m confident we will be vindicated when all is said and done.”

Suns today:There's one big question: Are they a dysfunctional NBA franchise right now?

Nov. 9 — ESPN reports Robert Sarver's wife, Penny Sarver, sent messages by phone and through her @pennsar Instagram account to the former employees, who saw them as acts of intimidation.

Nov. 30 — Devin Booker suffers hamstring injury in first half of 104-96 win over Golden State. He misses seven games. The Suns went 5-2 during that stretch.

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after an injury to his hand and a technical-foul during the second half of the NBA game against the Houston Rockets at Footprint Center on February 16, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Rockets 124-121.

Suns' 19-1 run, Paul's fractured thumb, NBA All-Star weekend

Dec. 25 — The Warriors defeat Suns, 116-107, on Christmas Day.

Jan. 11, 2022 — Phoenix begins a 19-1 run that continues to Feb. 24.

Feb. 10 — Suns trade 2020 first-round pick Jalen Smith to Indiana for Torrey Craig and a future second-round pick right before the trade deadline.

Feb. 10 — Phoenix defeats Milwaukee, 131-107, in rematch of 2021 NBA Finals, which Suns lost in six to Bucks.

Feb. 16 — Paul fractures right thumb in 124-121 win over Houston. He misses 15 games.

Feb. 20 — Monty Williams coaches Team LeBron to 163-160 win over Team Durant in NBA All-Star game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. Paul plays for Team LeBron while Devin Booker plays for Team Durant.

Apr 5, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, United States; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) lays two in against Los Angeles Lakers forward Stanley Johnson (14) during the first quarter at Footprint Center.

Suns' historic season; 'remove' Sarver

March 6 — Bucks top Suns, 132-122, in Milwaukee. Phoenix was without Paul (thumb) and Booker (health and safety protocols).

March 18 — Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton calls for the NBA to close its investigation of Sarver and “remove” him or give a timeline of action by April 6 when the National Action Network’s national convention began April 6 in New York.

March 24 — Suns defeat Denver, 140-130, in Paul’s return from thumb injury as they win their 60th game of the season.

April 5 — Phoenix sets the franchise record for wins in a single season in its 121-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. The Suns end the regular season with a 64-18 record in earning the top overall seed in the 2022 playoffs.

April 28 — Suns eliminate New Orleans, 4-2, in first round as Paul becomes first player in NBA playoff history to make 14 field goals without a miss in Game 6. He scored 33 points.

May 15, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams pulls center Deandre Ayton (22) from the game against the Dallas Mavericks during game seven of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center.

Game 7 collapse, Ayton-Williams 'internal'

May 4 — Phoenix takes 2-0 series lead over Dallas after 20-point victory in Game 2.

May 8 — Dallas knots series, 2-2, after wining Game 4 at home. A young male fan “put his hands” on Paul’s mom late in Game 4. After an investigation, the Mavericks announce two fans involved in the incident would be banned "until 2023."   

May 9 — Williams named NBA Coach of the Year.

May 10 — Suns take a 3-2 series lead after a 30-point blasting of Dallas at home.

May 12 — Mavs force a Game 7 after battering Phoenix, 113-86, in Dallas

May 15 — Phoenix eliminated from the playoffs after a 33-point loss to Dallas, 123-90, at home. The Suns trailed by as many as 46 points as Luka Doncic posted 35 points and 10 rebounds.  Ayton and Williams get into a heated verbal exchange after Williams took Ayton out the game with 8:26 left in the third with Phoenix trailing by 38 points. After the game, Williams said “it’s internal” when asked why Ayton played only 17 minutes. Ayton scored a career playoff-low five points.

Kevin Durant is a 12-time All-Star.

Durant trade saga; Booker, Ayton contracts

May 25 — Booker made first team All-NBA, making him supermax eligible.

June 20 — Suns hire Morgan Cato, making her the first woman of color in an NBA assistant general manager position. An African American, Cato previously worked for the NBA as an associate vice president.

June 30 — Kevin Durant demands trade from Brooklyn on the first day of free agency and identifies Phoenix and Miami atop his trade wish list. Two months later Durant and the Nets agreed to  move forward together.

June 30 — Booker agrees to a supermax contract of four years, $224 million that kicks in after his rookie extension ends after the 2023-24 season. The 25-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent in 2028.

July 14 — Suns match Indiana’s offer sheet to Ayton of four years, $133 million. Ayton was a restricted free agent, meaning the Suns could match any offer and pay him more than any team. The Suns can look to trade him starting Jan. 15, but Ayton can veto any trade for a year.

 July 27 — Williams signs a contract extension with Suns.

Crowder: 'Time for a change'


Aug. 21 — Sharpton writes PayPal president and CEO Dan Schulman an open letter that appears in Sunday editions of The Arizona Republic, demanding the billion-dollar digital payment company cease its relationship with Sarver. PayPal is a team sponsor of the Suns.

Sept. 9 — Suns General Manager James Jones addresses the Durant situation in a 1-on-1 interview with The Republic, saying there wasn’t “much discussion, in-depth discussion” on a trade. “Brooklyn wanted to keep Kevin Durant in Brooklyn. And that’s why he’s in Brooklyn and not on some other team, but as far as with us, I get it. It’s always a great topic of discussion, but the one thing people forget is that when you’re talking about trades, or any player acquisition, the team that has the player has to be willing to move the player.”

Apr 19, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver against the New Orleans Pelicans during game two of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center.

Sarver suspended, fined $10M, backlash, selling team

Sept. 13 — The NBA announces Sarver is suspended for one year from any activities involving the Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and fined $10 million for ''workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies'' found during a 10-month investigation. Sarver also is majority owner of the Mercury.

Sept. 14 — LeBron James and Paul take to Twitter to voice their disappointment with Sarver investigation findings and their concerns over NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s punishment.

Sept. 15 — Suns vice chairman and minority owner, Jahm Najafi, calls for Sarver’s resignation.

Sept. 21 — Sarver, 60, announces his intentions to sell the Suns and Mercury after backlash from investigation findings. He bought the NBA franchise in 2004 for a then-record $401 million. As of October 2021, the Suns were worth $1.8 billion. Forbes later reported the Suns will sell for at least $2.5 billion.

Suns' Ayton: 'I haven't talked to Monty'

Sept. 23 — Crowder tweets “99 WONT BE THERE” when Suns training camp opens. The Suns confirm two days later the veteran forward wouldn’t attend camp as they’ve been trying to trade him.

Sept. 26 — Suns media day as Jones, Williams and the players addressed the Sarver investigation findings.

Sept. 27 — Ayton says on the first day of training camp he and Williams hadn’t talked since Game 7 of the Suns-Mavs series. Williams responded by saying he hasn’t talk to “a bunch of guys,” adding he’ll talk to everyone at some point during training camp.

Sept. 28 — Booker says he doesn’t see Ayton-Williams situation being a distraction. “Guys look good to me.”

Sept. 29 — Williams says Cam Johnson will start at the four for the Suns. The day before, Williams said he’d like to have the Crowder situation resolved before the Oct. 19 season opener against Dallas.

Oct. 2 — Suns open preseason schedule against Adelaide 36ers of Australia’s NBL.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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