We’ve all been there. Assigned a project at work that belonged to someone else, someone who couldn’t finish it for one reason or another. It’s usually a mess but you do your best to sort it out and get it back on track.
The tricky thing is, after a certain period of time, the project, and its success or failure, is viewed by everyone as yours. It doesn’t matter what your predecessor messed up, it’s on you and you can be sure it will come up at your end of the year review.
That time is now for Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones when it comes to the 2018-19 Suns he inherited.
Jones, a Robert Sarver hire during Summer League 2017, followed the Lindsey Hunter and Earl Watson path to his current perch in the Suns front office. After barely being away from the game as a player, he joined the Suns in a secondary role and, despite a lack of experience, quickly supplanted the more seasoned incumbent. Or as I like to call it, they all pulled a Steve Urkel.
While his credentials and readiness can be debated, Jones is what the Suns currently have running the show and, much like the projects we’ve all inherited, this one is flawed and needs fixing. It’s also officially his to figure out or fail trying.
After 14 games, a 3-11 record and some of the worst performances in Suns history, it’s clear something needs to be fixed and fast. While it’s easy for many to point fingers at Ryan McDonough and his staff, the fact that the team’s issues haven’t been addressed yet are now laid squarely at Jones’ feet.
While reports suggest Jones is the leader in the clubhouse for the job, the Suns would be wise to stray from their recent path and fully evaluate the in-house interim candidate based on what he does and doesn’t accomplish on the job while the training wheels are still on.
It doesn’t take a basketball wunderkind or an award winning general manager to realize the Suns need an NBA starting caliber point guard the way Nic Cage movies are in dire need of a better script. While it’s easy to see the issue, solving it is another thing entirely.
Finding that solution is what Jones should be judged on when the time comes to name the next architect of this team.
Jones inherited young talent and tradable assets in terms of their own draft picks and the Milwaukee pick as well. It’s time to finally use them.
Having been a part of the hiring process of Igor Kokoskov and been around every step since, Jones is well aware of what the first year coach’s offense is predicated on. Ball movement can’t happen without a good guard. We’ve all been witness to it since Summer League.
Wednesday’s win over the San Antonio Spurs proved this team still has an immense amount of potential and promise. When this offense clicks like it did this week and on opening night against the Dallas Mavericks, it can be a thing of beauty. The right acquisition could mean we see it more often than the McRib at McDonalds.
If Jones decides or isn’t capable of pulling off a deal its impact will be felt beyond this season. Losing, as we’ve seen, can become habit and the longer it goes on it can lead to discontent, infighting and worse, trade demands.
The Suns need to break the pattern of the last eight years. The foundation is in place and the right moves can help us all see the light at the end of the tunnel.
James Jones inherited this year’s Suns but the project is now his and if he wants the job full time it’s time to prove what he’s made of by solving the biggest glaring problem on the roster.