Once the Western Conference finals runs were over, the hardest part for Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver had been eliminating the emotion and letting go. His franchise had prudently refused to invest long-term into Amar'e Stoudemire's defective knees, but Sarver stayed committed to rearming Steve Nash into his late 30s and resisted the reshaping of a long-term vision.

For all the miscalculations compounding that choice, there been a steep price to pay for the Suns: bad contracts and bad actors, discombobulated parts and no clear path to restoring prominence.

"For all successful people in business, I think that the notion of taking a step back to take a step forward is a foreign concept," Sarver told Yahoo Sports. "You simply don't say, 'We're going to go backward for a couple years,' in business. But pro sports – especially the NBA – is different, and it's set up to do just that.

"I had a hard time stomaching the idea of rebuilding, and spent a couple of years trying to patch together a way that we could still capitalize on Steve's ability. I was a couple of years too late in really facing the music."

Here it was early May, and Sarver sat inside his banking office across the street from U.S. Airways Center and let a 33-year-old Boston Celtics executive deliver him the path for chance in relentless detail. Ryan McDonough had a championship pedigree, a well-regarded draft record and the stomach to ask a prospective owner some tough, probing questions to make sure he even wanted this job.