The Phoenix Suns have been without a permanent general manager since firing Ryan McDonough halfway through a terrible preseason with his fifth hand-built roster.
McDonough was fired along with, reportedly, 80 percent of the front office staff, leaving James Jones and Trevor Bukstein to run the day-to-day operations of the team for the past six months as co-interim general managers. Only a few holdovers from McDonough’s staff, including director of personnel Bubba Burrage, remain.
James Jones has been the public voice and primary liaison with players and coaches, while Bukstein has focused on roster management. Very few changes are made mid-season in the NBA, so the real work was always expected to begin during the offseason.
Apparently, the Suns’ intent is to make concrete those changes immediately. Jones mentioned on his weekly radio spot with Dave Burns and John Gambadoro that he thinks “we” will know something in the next week.
Jones on the timetable for solidifying the next Suns GM:— Burns and Gambo on 98.7 (@BurnsAndGambo) April 3, 2019
"In the next week we'll know something or move closer to a final resolution."
Jones went on to say he would expect an announcement soon after the Suns’ season wraps up next Wednesday in Dallas.
While other vacancies, such as New Orleans and Washington, are being more-publicly touted via leaks to media, the Suns have been more private with their discussions. This could be because Jones is the leading candidate and is already in place.
Other teams are looking at current GMs or “rising” assistant GMs, but the only names to leak from the Suns’ radar to date are long-out-of-the-league former executives Kevin McHale and Jim Paxson. Both candidates are in their 60s and haven’t held front office jobs in over a decade.
If either guy were brought in, it would seemingly be more of a hands-off role helping Jones navigate the front office world rather than the franchise’s leading decision-maker.
If Jones is saying “we,” it seems clear he is not losing his job in the organization, though who knows what his title would be. Jones has long expressed that he has no designs on total control, only that he wants to be a part of a great success story in Phoenix.
It’s also likely that Bukstein remains in the fold in some capacity, as he’s survived multiple front office changes over the years and is seen as having Robert Sarver’s trust. The “we” indicates Jones’ earlier assertions are likely still correct: The Suns are looking to add to the front office rather than replace it.
As Gambadoro reported the day ESPN’s expose came out detailing goat poop and using technology to scout, the Suns are planning to fill out the fourth floor of Talking Stick Resort Arena with experienced executives after years of hiring newbies.
Do with all that what you will.