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Bright Side Q and A with Phoenix Suns McDonough: On selfishness, analytics, and restricted free agency

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Bryan Gibberman spoke with Suns general manager Ryan McDonough after Friday's press conference.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After the Suns press conference, and television interviews, and radio interviews…general manager Ryan McDonough was kind enough to give Bright Side a couple of minutes of his time to answer a few questions. I mainly deviated away from the same talking points that were discussed in the presser.

Bryan Gibberman: What you've gone through from the offseason to now, you haven't even been on the job for two years, is there anything from that experience that you've learned that you want to take forward?

Ryan McDonough:

It's a good question (I could have easily left that part out, but HAHA like I wouldn't allow my praise to be seen). I think like any job the more experience you get the more you learn and grow.

The main thing I would change or we would change is probably how Eric Bledsoe's contract negotiation went last year and how long it was drawn out. I think we will do better in that situation the next time around. Other than that we don't really make any apologies for the moves we've made. They're all with the same goal in mind, that's to try to get the Suns to a championship level. I think people like yourself who've been around the team for a long time and have watched the Suns for a while now can see the growth and I hope the fans can see the influx of young talent and future potential.

Sometimes it can be difficult in the short term for people to see the organization take what they perceive to be a step back, even though we don't see it that way, or for players they're familiar with to go out in trades, and players or picks that are coming back that they're less familiar with can be a challenge sometimes. I'm very confident with the moves we've made. I think like with these deals there's all kind of blogs, articles, draft winners and losers, trades winners and losers -- I think as always at the end of the day time will tell and I think and hope over the next few years people will look back favorably on the moves we made here over the past couple times.

BG: You mentioned with IT (during the press conference) how he had a positive impact on the on-court success. When it comes to Brandon Knight he's had a lot of individual success, but they've been about 10 points worse per 100 possessions with him on the court. What was the context with that there and why do you think he can have more of a positive impact here?

RM:

I think the challenge and I don't want to get into analyzing Milwaukee's team too much. I think the challenge for Brandon has been in some ways their bench group was almost better than their starters. Their bench has played extremely well, they're up there with our bench in terms of the highest scoring benches in the league. Players like Khris Middleton and Jared Dudley who they've brought off the bench have had terrific years. In some ways that can skew the numbers if you're playing primarily with the starters. Again, I don't want to get into analyzing the Bucks team, but their starting lineup is kind of young and inexperienced, and their bench guys are solid veterans guys and they are experienced. We did more specific breakdowns than that.

We rely fairly heavily on analytics and there are a few factors I don't want to get into. We are comfortable doing this deal. We think Brandon Knight is a very good two-way player, he's up among the league leaders in three-point shooting, he's a very good defender and we're confident he will have a very positive impact on our team.

Statistical addition: In 408 minutes Knight played with Middleton and Dudley the group was a +11.9 net rating per 100 possessions.

BG: You guys have very much bought into position-less basketball, but it seems like it's something that the players aren't accepting of. How do you get them to buy into that?

RM:

I think I disagree with the notion that not all players are not accepting of it. I think the guys accepted it very well last year and we had a lot of team success. I think this year certain players are more concerned about their contractual status or what was best for them, rather than what was best for the team. To be honest with you, that led to a lot of the moves we made yesterday.

We tried to clear out the guys who were more concerned with what they did individually, or we felt were more concerned with what they did individually than with team success. I feel like we accomplished this.

BG: Last question, you've talked about the value of these draft picks. The Lakers pick was arguably one of if not your most valuable commodity. Why was this the right time to cash that in?

RM:

With a pick like that our analysis was that we probably weren't going to receive the pick this year. That pushes the pick into next year, the protection drops to three, but I think analyzing the Lakers situation there's pretty high variance there as to what the pick could be. If you ask me how the Lakers are going to be a year from now i have no idea. Obviously, they've struggled some recently, but they're going to have a lot of salary cap space this summer and they're in a market that's traditionally been one of the top draws for free agents.

We know the risks. The pick next year could be the fourth pick in the draft, it could be the 14th pick in the draft, it could be the 30th pick in the draft. We felt it was the right time to cash it in.

We knew we needed to give something good to Philadelphia in a three-team trade in order for them to part with Michael Carter-Williams. That's what they wanted so that's how the deal got done.