After going 134-190 with zero playoff appearances in the past four years since he came to town, and a record that seems to get worse annually, there was a sense around the league that Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough was in trouble heading into this off-season.
Nope, he will be back.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Suns intend to keep McDonough in charge of basketball operations for at least one more season, despite the ongoing wait for the first playoff berth of his tenure.
It was reported when McDonough joined the Suns’ front office entering the 2013-14 campaign that he signed a four-year deal, but one team source told ESPN.com that McDonough is indeed under contract through the 2017-18 season.
The Suns have missed the playoffs for a franchise-record seven consecutive seasons — including the past two fully under McDonough’s watch since he was elevated to head of basketball operations — and sank to the league’s second-worst record in 2016-17 somewhat by design in the second half of the campaign.
Whether this is a move because the Suns trust McDonough or because owner Robert Sarver doesn’t want to pay for two GMs at once — even just for one season — is up for discussion.
Phoenix won 48 games the first year McDonough came to town, but that ended up being a mirage and led them to continue to pursue a win-now, three-guard team when those players never fit together that well. Rather than rebuild, the Suns spent a couple of seasons acting like a playoff team when the roster wasn’t really there. A lot of McDonough’s moves are justifiable in a vacuum, but put together they don’t show a great overall plan.
The Suns have some quality young players on the roster, led by Devin Booker, as well as Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, and Tyler Ulis. The Suns have Eric Bledsoe at point guard (he had a strong season at age 27), but also have two more seasons of Tyson Chandler under contract (at $26.6 million, total).
The Suns also have the second best odds heading into the lottery, a 19.9 percent chance of landing the top pick. If they do land one of the top two and can take a highly rated point guard such as Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, will they do that and trade Bledsoe? Or would the Suns rate Kansas Josh Jackson higher and bring a wing in to go next to Booker? There are a lot of questions for the Suns heading into this summer.
And McDonough gets to answer them.