This week the Phoenix Suns confused the basketball world with a draft and trades that left even the most optimistic fan scratching head. That’s because the team desperately needs a point guard yet passed on one, any one.
Cities are a lot like NBA franchises. City managers act as the point guard, assisting policymakers and creating opportunities. Until current Scottsdale City Manager Jim Thompson came along, however, the city resembled the Phoenix Suns, with a revolving door of point guards and city managers.
Thompson has stabilized city government. He is not afraid to make decisions. He has an unusual combination of political smarts and humility, a perfect combination for Scottsdale.
Indeed, it was Thompson’s sagaciousness, combined with a wise spirit among usually disagreeing councilmembers that has the city on the cusp of passing a comprehensive bond package for the first time in two decades.
But City Managers are like free agents in the NBA. When their contract is up other teams can come calling. Yes, Thompson has shown loyalty in previous city manager gigs like Shane Doan to the Arizona Coyotes, but that can’t and won’t always last if appreciation by team owners, or city leadership is not shown.
Next week Thompson comes up for his annual review. We aren’t suggesting his bosses do something beyond proper taxpayer taste when it comes to his compensation, but it’s also not a time to be penny wise and pound foolish.
Back when the Suns had Steve Nash at point guard their owner let their effective young, shooting guard Joe Johnson get away. The team didn’t want to pay Johnson the money. And the organization’s best chance to win a championship went away with it.
Like it has been and should be Scottsdale is on the verge of municipal championships. It shouldn’t let its key players get away. Role players are a dime a dozen. Stars are not.