Ryan McDonough hasn’t served as a general manager in the NBA, technically.
He does have three years of experience as the assistant GM for the Boston Celtics, serving under Danny Ainge.
The new Suns GM wore many different hats in his decade with the Celtics organization, as he told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 620 Thursday.
“In the past four or five years, Danny Ainge gave me more responsibility to make trade calls, to do our free agent planning,” he said. “It was great experience. I don’t think many other guys who were in their 20s at the time were calling other GMs and saying ‘Hey, would you be interested in trading this guy for that guy,’ or planning for free agency.
“I started out as kind of a draft specialist, a college scouting specialist, and it expanded to international scouting and then minor league and then NBA. So by the end of my tenure in Boston, I was doing pretty much everything that a GM does.”
Despite his impressive résumé and experience in helping build a winner, McDonough knows the process of returning the Suns to first relevancy and then prominence will be a slow one.
“I would ask the fans to be patient, I don’t see a quick fix — or at least a quick fix that leads to what I want to do, which is bring a championship to the Valley,” he said. “I actually told Robert (Sarver) and Lon (Babby) in my interview that I’m not looking to patch this together and get a little better in the short-term but have no long-term sustainable success.
“I’m looking to build a model here where we draft well every year, we’re maybe a little conservative with free agents and financially, until we have the opportunity to get a great player.”
During his introductory press conference, McDonough reminisced about some of the things he gleaned from Ainge and singled out the phrase “to be unafraid” when making roster moves. He elaborated on it during his radio interview.
“One of the things I learned from Danny was that not every move you make is going to be perfect,” McDonough said. “He took some chances and took some risks and wasn’t afraid to shuffle the deck when things don’t go exactly his way.
“Because he did that, and because we drafted so well with the Celtics, that’s how we were able to transition from a team that won 24 games in 2007 to a team that had acquired enough good players where the Celtics were able to train a few of them for Ray Allen and the Celtics were able to trade a few of them for Kevin Garnett while still retaining enough to win 66 games and win and NBA Championship the year after we’d won 24 games.”