The man who drafted LeBron James could become the Suns’ next general manager. Or, it could be the guy who traded Kevin Garnett.
Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Thursday afternoon the Suns have spoken with Celtics legend, former Timberwolves Vice President of Basketball Operations and Rockets head coach Kevin McHale as well as former Cavaliers general manager Jim Paxson.
In the early stages of the Suns' GM search, Phoenix has spoken to TNT's Kevin McHale (former Wolves GM & coach + former Rockets coach) and likewise has interest in Bulls consultant Jim Paxson (former Cavs GM), league sources say— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 21, 2019
The Suns, in their newly opened search for a top basketball executive who is more experienced than the usual Lon Babbies and Ryan McDonoughs, have seemingly targeted basketball lifers nearing regular Americans’ retirement age. Both candidates are 61.
McHale led Minnesota to the playoffs eight straight years starting in his second season but only made it past the first round once. After drafting Garnett in 1995, he ultimately ended up trading him 12 years later because he couldn’t build a winner around the Hall of Famer.
Paxson, the brother of Bulls President of Basktball Operations John Paxson, is even more out of left field. The older Paxson brother has been based in Phoenix as a scout on his brother’s Philly staff for many years, and our Bright Side team sees him at nearly every home game. However, he has not been in an NBA front office since being fired by the Cavaliers in 2005 as they rebuilt their organization around James.
Paxson’s name is new in the search but McHale’s has been in the air for months.
Suns announce firing of GM Ryan McDonough. James Jones and Trevor Bukstein will be interims. One candidate to watch long-term: Kevin McHale.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 8, 2018
Based upon Jones’ confidence about being around long-term and his seemingly solid relationship with Managing Partner Robert Sarver, the most likely scenario remains Jones sliding into a general manager role and McHale (or potentially Paxson or another older adviser) becoming President of Basketball Operations above Jones.
This would insulate the franchise from Jones’ inexperience and allow Sarver to sell Phoenix on a grown up being in the room.
Expect to hear more about McHale as the season nears its close. In the meantime, tune into TNT and NBATV broadcasts to hear McHale’s thoughts on the league and start making guesses about who he will target should he take over the Suns.