After years of tanking, the Phoenix Suns revealed their plan to compete for the NBA championship title in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. They upgraded their roster by acquiring quality players via trade, NBA draft, and free agency. The Suns also hired Igor Kokoskov to be their new head coach.
Days before the start of the season, the Suns made another surprising move, firing Ryan McDonough as the team’s general manager. Most NBA fans and analysts questioned the timing of the Suns’ decision to part ways with McDonough. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Suns owner Robert Sarver decided to end their partnership with McDonough mainly because of his difficulties with trades and draft picks.
“McDonough’s tenure was met with immediate success, but difficulties with trades and draft picks short-circuited tenure. McDonough has been pursuing a starting-level point guard in marketplace, only to have many teams holding Suns up for an unprotected first-round pick in talks.”
After sending Brandon Knight to the Houston Rockets, the Suns have been looking for a starting-caliber point guard they can pair with Devin Booker in their backcourt. Unfortunately, McDonough was having a hard time making a deal with other NBA teams who are reportedly demanding an unprotected first-round pick. Suns owner Robert Sarver said that the team’s focus in the short term is to prepare for the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season, but with their inability to acquire a new point guard, there is a strong possibility that the Suns could enter the season entrusting the starting role to Elie Okobo, De’Anthony Melton, or Isaiah Canaan.
— azcentral sports (@azcsports) October 9, 2018
As Woj noted, Suns owner Robert Sarver has become more hands-on with the team. After firing Ryan McDonough, the Suns announced that James Jones will assume basketball-operations oversight of coaches, players, and staff.
“Owner Robert Sarver has become even more involved in day-to-day of franchise. He already had a strong voice in many moves, including past coaching hires. James Jones has become a favorite of Sarver, too. He’ll be a GM candidate there.”
As of now, James Jones emerged as a top candidate to be the Suns’ next general manager. Sarver reportedly sees him as someone who is internally familiar with what it takes to win an NBA championship title. According to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel, Jones said that the transition from being an NBA player and mentor to management was a natural fit for him.
Jones credited his management philosophy to the Miami Heat, especially to team president Pat Riley and Coach Erik Spoelstra. Jones said that his time playing alongside NBA superstars like LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade taught him lots of things about excellence and being elite. As a member of the Suns’ front office, Jones vowed to make them a great basketball team and a championship organization.