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Suns GM McDonough elaborates on trading Chriss, current PG situation

Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough does an interview with The Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough was not short of topics to discuss with 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta when joining them Tuesday.

Since he last spoke publicly, McDonough had traded Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Ryan Anderson and De’Anthony Melton and it was announced Monday his star shooting guard Devin Booker had hand surgery.

McDonough discussed his evaluation process on the trade, a notable one given Chriss was a No. 8 overall pick in the NBA Draft two years ago and Brandon Knight was projected to be the team’s starting point guard.

“Anybody who does this job — you have to be honest and realistic with yourself about how it’s going and the progress that a player makes, or the lack of progress,” McDonough said in relation to Chriss.

“With Marquese, there were ups and downs,” he said. “I thought he had a pretty good rookie year, overall. I think he showed some flashes and played better than we probably expected him to at 19 years old, and then last year I felt like there was a step back for whatever reason.”

At the same time, McDonough said a large determining factor was a new head coach and system that didn’t have the comfiest fit for either Chriss or Knight.

“A big part of it, not only with Marquese but with Brandon as well — with Igor Kokoskov and his staff coming in, they have new philosophies,” he said. “They have a very high-level offensive system that I think our fans will really enjoy watching because it’s pretty impressive and has proven to be effective over time.

“That being said, the pieces have to fit the system and there has to be a role in the system for certain players, and if there’s not a role, we look externally to see if there are players we can bring in to fit the system and play a role better.”

In a continuation of that point, McDonough likes what the two new additions bring to Kokoskov’s plans.

“We felt, overall, Ryan Anderson with his shooting ability and De’Anthony Melton with his two-way potential in the backcourt were better system fits than Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss.”

NOW WHAT AT POINT GUARD?

But, of course, with Knight gone, the Suns now have an opening at point guard.

Well, at least from McDonough’s perspective, that opening is a point guard with real experience.

Elie Okobo and Melton were both just selected in the second round of the NBA Draft, Shaquille Harrison has 23 games of NBA experience and Isaiah Canaan’s NBA role has mostly been toward the end of a team’s rotation in his five-year career.

Despite that, the GM likes his group.

“We’re very high on Elie Okobo, he’s looked terrific in the pickup games we’ve had so far,” he said. “[Melton] we thought was one of the better rookies in summer league, and guys like Shaquille Harrison and Isaiah Canaan played very well for us a year ago. We have depth there, I realize we don’t have a lot of experience there.”

Still, though, the team has been linked to numerous point guards on the trade market and has been reported as on the lookout for a starting-caliber name to add.

“We’re evaluating options,” McDonough said. “We’re trying to be deliberate and strategic, and just make sure it makes sense — if we are to do a deal — in the short- and long-term.”

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