It was tergiversation and obfuscation again for this windsock of an organization as a press conference that I hoped would shed light on the less than stable nature of the Suns’ front office left me with more questions.
Is James Jones the acting GM, even though he doesn’t have the official title of GM... or even though he doesn’t have the official title of interim GM?
Will Jones become the interim GM or permanent GM at some point, and if so, when?
Is Trevor Bukstein on equal footing with James Jones? Essentially making the two co-non-official interim GM’s?
Without a permanent, or interim, GM, does that mean Robert Sarver will have an even greater influence than usual on basketball decisions?
After Ryan McDonough was fired on October 7th, just 10 days prior to the season opener, Vice President of basketball operations James Jones and assistant GM Trevor Bukstein were tasked with jointly overseeing basketball operations in the interim.
Shortly thereafter, Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that James Jones seemed to be the leading candidate to fill the void.
Story soon on ESPN: Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver is leaning toward the eventual hiring of interim general manager James Jones as the franchise’s full-time GM, league sources tell ESPN. Jones had been VP of Basketball Operations under former GM Ryan McDonough.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 9, 2018
Woj followed that up with a story going deeper down the rabbit hole.
An excerpt from the story detailed that...
The thing is, the Suns organization has shied away from making any official designations about the GM role.
The Suns media release for Friday’s press conference read as follows:
Phoenix Suns Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones will be available to discuss the 2018-19 Suns season with the media tomorrow, Friday, October 12 at approximately 10:30 a.m.
Jones confirmed at the press conference that was still his role, not interim GM.
When I pressed him on whether he was interested in becoming the GM at some point in the future (as I had previously done about nine months ago) he deftly avoided addressing the question with a straightforward answer.
“I’m still interested in helping this organization in whatever way possible. Titles don’t mean anything to me. The only title that matters is an NBA title. If that means I can help this team in my current role or another role I’m all for it.”
“I’m not losing sight of the ultimate goal, which is to strengthen the organization in every facet, in every capacity. From every angle I will look at how I can be better and how I can help my staff, my coaches and my players be better.”
“If I do that we will win, and that’s the only thing that matters.”
For now, it appears that Jones is the acting GM, even if the team doesn’t want to make it official.
Or at least Jones and Bukstein are collaborating to perform the job duties (which the team did state, sort of).
This dynamic appears similar to the Lon Babby/Lance Blanks relationship from a few years back.
Jones appears to be the PR guy and Bukstein is the nuts and bolts guy.
It worked so well the first time around, why not try again?
Although it seems like these two will be mostly calling the shots, the absence of an official GM rekindles memories of the black summer of 2010 when Sarver made the absurd decision to bring on Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick and Hedo Turkoglu to replace Amar’e Stoudemire.
The prospect of Sarver having more influence on the decision making with the front office duties still being sorted out is frightening in an indescribable way.
But how involved will Sarver actually be?
When Jones was asked what type of support he would have in decision making he said he would “lean on everyone from every corner of the organization.”
Sarver definitely fits that description... but so does the security guard who I was talking to in the elevator before the press conference.
Once again, that answer seems to be misdirection from an organization without a firm plan in place, or at least one that isn’t going to plainly state what that plan is at this time.
I’ll let you be the judge.
One thing I do know, is that the Suns play their season opener against the Dallas Mavericks next Wednesday, October 17th and as of now the team doesn’t have an official GM.
And while that seems like business as usual for the Suns, it isn’t the way business is usually conducted in the NBA.