The Suns hired Ryan McDonough back in 2013 with a mandate to rebuild the team. Maybe the worst thing that could have happened to them was surprisingly winning 48 games that next season and just missing the playoffs by a game — the Suns altered the slow rebuild plans and tried to win more short term. Combine that with some missed draft picks — Alex Len, Dragan Bender — and here it is five years later, the Suns are one of the worst teams in the West and are still rebuilding.
Owner Robert Sarver decided that was reason enough to fire McDonough — but he did it this week, just nine days before the first game of the season.
Now it looks like the hands-on Sarver wants to keep things in-house and hire interim GM James Jones, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Sarver fired GM Ryan McDonough on Sunday night and issued a statement on Monday that assigned Jones and assistant GM Trevor Bukstein to share oversight of basketball operations on an interim basis. Jones had been working under the title of VP of basketball operations.
In his initial conversations around the league, Sarver has left little, if any, doubt that Jones will be leading Phoenix’s basketball operations in the future, league sources said.
While Sarver can be unpredictable (to use a kind word), hiring Jones fits with Sarver’s pattern — while experienced, top-flight GMs such as David Griffin are available, Sarver is not a big spender and those kinds of experienced GMs come at a top price. Plus, someone like Griffin will demand total control over basketball operations, and Sarver likes to medal.
While continuing to rebuild would make the most basketball sense right now, the Suns want to win more immediately — hence bringing in Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson this summer — and that would mean securing a starting point guard. That will be the priority for Jones. Currently, the Suns will use Devin Booker (who is really a two guard and may miss the start of the season due to a hand injury) at the point and have Elie Okobo, De’Anthony Melton, and Isaiah Canaan behind him. The Suns are not going to compete for a playoff spot in the West this season, but the question becomes how will Jones position the team going forward.