The Phoenix Suns will see general manager Ryan McDonough through the end of his contract that ends after the 2017-18 season, reports ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes.
McDonough signed with the Suns in May 2013 and followed with a mixed bag of moves and four losing seasons under his watch that have the franchise’s postseason drought at seven years.
The former Boston Celtics assistant general manager got off to a strong start in 2013-14, dumping contracts of veterans and hiring coach Jeff Hornacek to lead an upstart team to a 48-34 record on the back of Most Improved Player Goran Dragic. The Suns became one of two teams in the past four decades to reach 48 wins and miss the playoffs.
The next few seasons saw the Suns take several steps backward.
A disgruntled Dragic forced his way out of Phoenix after McDonough signed point guard Isaiah Thomas to join Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in a busy backcourt. While McDonough came away with several intriguing draft picks via Miami, he also spent the trade deadline dealing Thomas to Boston — he has now become the face of the Celtics — while giving up a high first-round pick to acquire Brandon Knight from Milwaukee.
Knight, who signed a five-year, max extension in 2015, has struggled through injuries and performance issues through the past two-plus seasons.
McDonough also weathered the failed free agency chase of LaMarcus Aldridge in the summer of 2015, which included the trading of Marcus Morris — that upset twin brother Markieff, who struggled in his final half-season in Phoenix before being dealt to Washington.
Among McDonough’s successes is his asset accumulation — the Suns have stocked themselves with first-round picks — and the drafting of 13th overall pick Devin Booker, who as 20-year-old second-year pro averaged 22.1 points and 3.4 assists per game.
McDonough also traded for and signed Bledsoe to a long-term deal. Despite two major knee injuries while in Phoenix, Bledsoe averaged 21.1 points, 6.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game this past season before being shut down.
That, the hire of first-year coach Earl Watson and the 2016-17 season that included promising signs from rookies Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss and Tyler Ulis has given the Suns the second-best lottery odds — and have given McDonough stability so long as the 2016-17 season leads to more progress.
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