Report: Suns leaning toward James Jones to fill general manager position

Report: Suns leaning toward James Jones to fill general manager position
Posted at 11:35 AM, Oct 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-09 15:04:40-04

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver is "leaning toward" promoting Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones to the general manager position, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday.

"In his initial conversations around the league, Sarver has left little, if any, doubt that Jones will be leading Phoenix's basketball operations into the future," Wojnarowski reported. "Nevertheless, Sarver has been known to change his mind -- often without warning -- on personnel matters."

The 38-year-old Jones is a three-time NBA champion who played for five NBA teams from 2003-17, including the Phoenix Suns from 2005-07. He was named the Suns' VP of basketball operations in July of last year.

On Monday, the Suns announced Ryan McDonough had been fired as the team's general manager. McDonough had served as GM since 2013, but the Suns went 155-255 during his five seasons in Phoenix and failed to make the playoffs in each season.

Jones, along with Assistant General Manager Trevor Bukstein, are combining to take on the Suns' GM role on an interim basis. Specifically, Jones will manage basketball operations, including oversight of coaches, players and staff.

Sarver said Jones has been instrumental in improving communication between players and the front office.

"I do acknowledge that we have had some communication breakdowns with our players in the recent past, and I addressed that by hiring James last year," Sarver said Monday on Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM. "I feel like we’re in a great place in that area, so I think that box is checked. I feel we’re in a good place there in terms of how we communicate with our players, but I do agree there was room for improvement."

Sarver told Burns & Gambo that the team simply didn't make as much progress as he had hoped under McDonough's leadership.

"I just thought having looked at the last five years -- and more recently, the last six months -- that in this business it’s about winning and/or consistent progress. As with any leaders, it’s an ongoing evaluation process. But it culminated when we were heading into the summer," Sarver said.

"We discussed a number of opportunities I felt were realistic in terms of what progress would look like, and ultimately for me, the rate of progress wasn’t there where I thought it needed to be. I do think we have some great young talent on our roster. There’s a lot to be excited about. But in this hyper-competitive Western Conference, I thought we needed to make the absolute most of the opportunity we have in front of us, and I decided to make a change."

Wojnarowski said Jones has already fired several front-office executives hired by McDonough, including assistant GM Pat Connelly, Director of Scouting Courtney Witte, Director of International Scouting Emilio Kovacic and G-League GM Louis Lehman.