The Phoenix Suns continued their front office adjustments this summer when on Friday, Baylor’s Aditya Malhotra is joining the Phoenix Suns in a hybrid role, consisting of front office and coaching involvement.
Malhotra was in Waco, TX with Baylor for nine years, including serving as a director of basketball operations for the final three seasons. While no specific title in Phoenix has been announced or reported yet, Malhotra detailed his responsibilities a bit in an interview with ESPN 1660 Central Texas:
“My position is going to be kind of a mix of everything front office and coaching, and that’s what I’m excited about. It’s going to be a lot of stuff I’ve been used to. It’s going to be all their NBA Draft stuff with college guys and managing their scouts.
“It’s kind of like at Baylor where they’ve been small for a long time, James [Jones] and them did a great job of getting to an NBA Finals, and now they’re ready to kind of expand and grow their front office and spend a little more time operating like a high-achieving business, so it’s going to give me an opportunity to kinda use what I do best, and that’s with college and scouting guys and helping them prepare for the NBA Draft...
“And then in-season kinda working with their assistant coaches in helping with some of the strategies and decisions that they’re gonna make and adjustments that they’re gonna make, and hopefully get them back to an NBA Finals and take a chance to win a championship again.”
John Morris, entering his 28th year as the radio voice of Baylor football and basketball, hosted the interview and pointed out that Malhotra as a knack for developing bigs. Malhotra, who namedrops Baylor bigs like Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. (played on this summer’s Suns squad in Las Vegas) and Flo Thamba, explained:
“I grew up a Houston Rockets fan and my first couple years was the Hakeem Olajuwon years, and so I loved watching Hakeem and his footwork and studying that stuff. When I got [to Waco], Coach [Jerome] Tang was the big man assistant, and I would work under him and do all the workouts with him with all the big men.”
Tang coached at Baylor for 19 years and is now entering his first season as Kansas State head coach.
My two biggest takeaways from the little information we have on the move are pointed out by Malhotra:
- The Suns are expanding their front office, including in draft preparations. Is this a reaction to the negative backlash from the ESPN article I can’t get out of my brain? Is it more indicative of a longer leash in James Jones’s favor? Or could it be a sign of an ownership transition and new philosophies on the basketball ops front?
- With a background in coaching bigs, the Malhotra add seems like even more help for Deandre Ayton, who now has at least two new hires in his corner following the addition of Patrick Mutombo. And both of those are after Mark Bryant remains firmly entrenched on the bench.
Malhotra also joked that Phoenix is becoming Baylor West between three Baylor alumni across the Suns:
- Ish Wainright, signed to a second two-way contract in Phoenix after playing both basketball and football at Baylor
- Ryan Resch, VP of basketball ops in Phoenix after being a manager and grad assistant at Baylor
- Zach Amundson, senior analyst in Phoenix after being a manager and grad assistant at Baylor
There are also some connections just down the road from the Suns at Grand Canyon University:
- Bryce Drew, head coach at GCU and is the brother of Baylor head coach Scott Drew
- two more grad assistants from Baylor are now joining Bryce’s staff
In the interview, Morris alluded to Waco being Mavs country, but with all the connections, Bears fans ought to buy stock in the Suns as well.