The Phoenix Suns join 14 other NBA teams in entering into a one-to-one business relationship with the Bakersfield Jam, where the Suns will run all basketball operations while team owners run the business side.
The Suns have assigned Head Pro Personnel Scout Bubba Burrage as the Jam's General Manager. Burrage, with 21 years in NBA front offices in various positions. was one of a handful of the many staff who survived the turnover last summer. Burrage has been head pro scout for three years now. Burrage will continue his scouting duties while running the basketball operations of the Jam.
To coach the team, the Suns have hired long time D-League coach Nate Bjorkgren. Bjorkgren led the Iowa Energy to win their division last year and was in the D-League Finals the year before with the Santa Cruz Warriors.
"[The hybrid model] provides an important opportunity for us to enhance the development of our young players," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. "For example, by implementing the Suns' style and system of play in Bakersfield, we can make the NBA D-League experience seamless for our players. Bubba and Nate will help make this another important step in our focus on player development."
The Suns have rarely used the D-League in recent years - just sending Diante Garrett, Kendall Marshall and Archie Goodwin down for short stints over the past three seasons.
It is a nice change of pace to see the Suns invest more in the D-League. Hopefully, they will use the Jam more now as a true player development tool, not only for young NBA players but also to find more players like P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green who developed their skills outside the NBA.
With several first round draft picks in future years, and a pair of under-21s on the current roster, the Suns might just be able to shuttle players back and forth more often for game seasoning.
I thought Archie Goodwin and Alex Len could have used more time in the Suns' own system with less pressure to perform and more opportunity to succeed.