The Phoenix Suns season is over, the exit interviews are done and the team has officially hired their general manager in James Jones who was the interim this season. The team also added former Hornets and Pistons executive Jeff Bower to be Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations.
In a time where presidents unexpectedly resign from their jobs and general managers fire head coaches after the team’s best season in 13 years, where do the Suns go from here?
The first and most obvious question is does James Jones keep head coach Igor Kokoskov after a 19 win season? While it could be tempting for Jones to just fire Kokoskov and bring in his own guy, would it be wise to have the young players subjected to another head coaching change?
The Suns have gone through four head coaches since 2016 and another one won’t just magically solve the teams losing streak. A coach, especially one that hasn’t been a head coach in the NBA, needs time to work with his players and get his system moving in the right direction. We already saw this year some of the Suns players improve and several core players specifically credit Kokoskov for that improvement.
Firing Kokoskov would continue the thought among the players and coaches in the league that the Suns are a terribly run organization. I’m not saying Kokoskov deserves to be a head coach if the team continues to lose and the players don’t improve, but another year with him to see how he does could be good for the team.
The next question for the Suns is simply how much power does Jones really have? We all know Suns owner Robert Sarver likes to be involved with his team and is perhaps the most hands-on owner in the league. This is due to Sarver wanting his team to succeed but it’s backfired on him and the Suns multiple times.
Sarver said in a statement to the media that he has the “utmost confidence” in Jones as the leader of basketball operations. Sarver also said that Jones “has demonstrated a remarkable ability to manage the day-to-day efforts of our front office while developing strong relationships with our players, coaches and those across our organization and league.”
Jones has made some good moves this season and will work with people who have a lot of experience in the front office of the NBA. However, Sarver has made what seems like impulse decisions before, firing Earl Watson three games into the 2017-18 season, firing Ryan McDonough after the offseason was over. Jones probably knows if he wants to stay in power and not have Sarver interfere, he better win quick and keep the train going.
Finally, the Suns still have glaring holes this front office needs to take care of. The team will have plenty of options to fill their point guard and power forward position whether it be through the draft or free agency. After losing the interim label, Jones will be able to put his own touches on the team and continue to build off of what he did this season. The big free agent for the Suns is restricted free agent Kelly Oubre Jr. who is expected to stay with the team but there’s still some players we don’t know about.
Will the Suns resign Dragan Bender? Will the team trade Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren? What does the team do with their pick if it’s out of the top two in this top heavy draft?
These are questions Jones will have the final say on and off the last moves he made, I think we should have some faith in his ability to make good moves.
The league has seen teams follow the Suns formula of allowing incompetence and chaos to reign over their franchise. The Suns have gone after executives with experience and given Jones the full reins. Only time will tell if these decisions will brings the Suns out of their chaotic mess and bring consistency and success back to the Valley.