James Jones has executed his plans swiftly since becoming general manager of the Suns just a few weeks ago.
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but with new head coach Monty Williams still battling in a hard-fought second-round playoff series as an assistant for the 76ers and the draft lottery nine days away, Jones has a little more time here to solidify the rest of his basketball operations staff before things get crazy.
From a personnel perspective, Jones announced loud and clear his top priority is finding a point guard, something Suns fans will be thrilled to hear.
Some interesting takeaways from James Jones' interview on NBA TV last night:— Evan Sidery (@esidery) May 4, 2019
- Expect Deandre Ayton to be utilized more like Joel Embiid under Monty Williams with plenty of inside touches.
- The main focus for Jones right now is finding a point guard to pair with Devin Booker. pic.twitter.com/oop2aAVl9u
However, he still has some work to do on the front office and coaching staff after tearing it down over the past seven months. The Suns reportedly only have one assistant coach, Riccardo Fois, in place as of now. They still will likely hire another decision-maker in the front office to join Jones, Jeff Bower and Trevor Bukstein.
Scouting is another question. Since firing Courtney Witte, the Suns never named another director of scouting. They also don’t have a solidified answer in the G League, with Dylan DeBusk promoted surprisingly to general manager up north when Louis Lehman was fired in October. Hiring the right head coach to develop talent with Northern Arizona will be important, though as far as we know, Bret Burchard remains in place at that position.
Finally, Williams and the Suns will have to find a bench of assistants to support their new head coach. Fred Vinson (who has been in New Orleans for nearly ten years and was on Williams’ staff once upon a time) is one possibility to jump to Phoenix with Williams, but most of the Sixers’ staff is quite young, so it’s hard to tell whether they might come over.
Before Igor Kokoskov was fired, I threw out Noel Gillespie as a possibility in Phoenix if the team opted to hire any new assistant coaches. Since leaving the Suns, Gillespie has risen to head coach of the Erie BayHawks. We know the Suns love the nostalgic hire, but Gillespie seems like a genuinely good coach to bring back.
It would be smart to have a staff in place at all levels before the real work of draft preparation begins. By mid-May, the Suns will start to bring prospects in for workouts, and creating a draft board is hard until you know the schemes you will run and how you evaluate certain young players.
Jones has earned the faith that he will work quickly and aggressively to improve the team. Grab your popcorn and get ready for the next series of decisions that will determine the fate of this franchise under its new general manager.