In my first full summer covering the Suns — from the draft to free agency to Summer League — I tried to have as many conversations as possible to understand the way this new braintrust in Phoenix thinks.
Along the way, I captured some thoughts and quotes from those around the organization that haven’t made it in any of the other pieces I’ve written this summer. So, before we part ways for the remainder of the offseason (training camp is just two months away!), I wanted to unload the remainder of my notes from this summer so as to not miss anything.
In this second installment, I’ll drop as much as possible on the Suns’ newest executive.
Jeff Bower the mystery man
Many have wondered how and when SVP of Basketball Operations Jeff Bower factors into the decision-making process in the new-look Phoenix front office.
Few examples have given us much of an indication of the workflow. The most notable situation in which Bower played a role was the selection of Cameron Johnson at No. 11 in the draft. His relationship with the family of first-round pick helped the Suns evaluate Johnson around the time of the draft.
Bower remained friendly with Johnson’s father throughout Cam’s college career after recruiting the sharpshooter as coach at Marist College in Pennsylvania. A phone conversation here and there allowed Bower to keep an eye on Johnson during his time at the University of Pittsburgh and eventually North Carolina. That attentiveness to the young shooter’s career helped when Johnson became eligible for the draft this summer.
This familiarity was not the entire reason the Suns targeted Johnson by any means, as we know they also worked him out during the pre-draft process. But it appears Bower was an important sounding board around draft time. He also of course worked with new coach Monty Williams in New Orleans a decade ago, a familiarity that surely helped a relationship materialize quickly with the Suns. Bower and Williams share an agent.
Bower is in and around every Suns press conference, workout and scouting trip from what I have seen so far. Rarely do people in his position speak publicly at press conferences, so it’s normal that he would be off-camera for those as well. The scope of his imprint on the organization is yet to be fully seen, but he was brought in to be a helping hand for James Jones, and it seems he has at least been that thus far.
Philosophically, Bower seems to be aligned with Jones. The focus on NBA-ready players, shooting, and basketball intelligence all flow from Bower’s ideology just as much as that of Jones. Raising the roster’s floor in this way is certainly sound judgment as a way to bring stability in Year One of the regime, and for Jones and Bower to keep their jobs. But as an experienced sounding board for Jones as he gets more comfortable as a general manager, Bower is a valuable presence.