For the first time since changing over almost the entire Suns roster in a two week period, Suns General Manager James Jones held court in Phoenix for local media. First, he and Monty Williams introduced Kelly Oubre Jr. back to the Valley.
Watch the press conference at the bottom of this post.
Then he went on local radio to expound on the roster as a whole. These quotes sum up everything Jones and his front office did to change the roster.
“I think for the first time in awhile we have collective talent, where the talent of our guys complements each other seamlessly,” Jones told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.
“We set out in the summer to change the team in a positive way with some additions,” Jones said at the press conference at Talking Stick Resort Arena. “With those additions came some subtractions. We added the positions of need for us, point guard and power forward, we added positional depth, and we kept our core guys intact.”
To recap, here are the changes in the past month.
How the Suns got to the current roster has been a large point of contention for fans and media alike. Here’s how Jones responded to that criticism.
“I understand everyone has an opinion or idea of what they think we should do, of what value for a player or a position is, or picks,” he said on radio. “That’s rightful criticism. But ultimately I think if they understand what we’re trying to do is build a team — and not collect or horde assets or maximize individual transactions — and think about a collective return, I think they’d understand the deals that we’ve made were great deals for a team and helped us improve.”
The biggest subtractions in the ‘out’ column are small forwards Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren. Jones expounded on this in the radio interview.
“Our goal was to get a good player, a point guard,” he said in response to the trades of Warren and of Jackson. “It was to preserve financial flexibility for the next few years, it was to increase the maturity of our team. If you look at that (trade), Josh is a great talent, but he’s a young guy. If you look at T.J., T.J. is at a different place in his career. And at the small forward position, we have a lot of depth.”
The Suns remaining small forwards include Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mikal Bridges, along with rookie Cameron Johnson. Minutes for Warren and Jackson would have been difficult to come by.
“We have Mikal, we have Kelly, we have Cam, and whether or not (Warren would) be able to play and provide the punch that we need for him to feel appreciated and to excel, versus the opportunity for growth for the rest of our guys, it was a decision we had to make,” Jones added.
“And when you couple that with the future money, it just became a decision we needed to make in the best interest of the team,” Jones said. “That’s taking away nothing from those guys as players, but as a team those are the best transactions for us.”
Warren had been under contract for another four years. The only long-term contracts on the books right now are Devin Booker (five years) and Ricky Rubio (three years). Everyone else is guaranteed for two or fewer years.
Jones spent the rest of the time talking about the current roster, and how this group of players is better as a collective team than the one that took the court in the last two years.
“I think a lot of times people overemphasize talent,” Jones said on the radio. “They view talent in a bubble. I think we’ve had individual talent (in the past).
“I think for the first time in awhile we have collective talent, where the talent of our guys complements each other seamlessly.”
When he recalled them all by name on the radio, he mentioned all of the players in the ‘still here’ and ‘in’ columns, even Frank Kaminsky who hasn’t officially signed yet, except for one: Elie Okobo. Last year’s No. 32 pick appears to be on the outs of a point guard depth chart that goes five deep not even counting Devin Booker and Tyler Johnson.
Reportedly, the Suns are still looking for more power forward depth, so it’s quite possible the Suns will use Okobo as the bait in a trade for another team’s squeezed-out young big man.
There you have it, Suns fans. How the last month unfolded, in James Jones own words.
Re-intro presser of Kelly Oubre Jr.