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Suns GM McDonough turns attention to NBA Draft

Ryan McDonough is attacking his job as general manager on two fronts: Finding a head coach and preparing for the draft.

“My immediate focus after finding a coach is drafting the best players,” he said last week when he was introduced as the team’s fifth GM in seven years.

While the search for a coach continues, the work on the draft picks up speed this week with the NBA Draft Combine.

More than 60 players — including ASU’s Carrick Felix and UA’s Grant Jerrett and Solomon Hill — are scheduled to be in Chicago beginning Wednesday.

The combine, which runs through May 19, is the last opportunity for many to make an impression in front of NBA personnel ahead of the draft on June 27. Some will receive invitations for individual workouts with teams, while others will be keeping their fingers crossed for the next six weeks.

McDonough is among several Suns executives and staff who will be spending the next five days in the Windy City.

“You always have to draft well,” he said. “That’s the lifeblood of your franchise. That’s how you have sustainable success over the years.”

The Suns, as a result of recent moves, have 10 draft picks over the next three years. This year, they own two first round selections, including a pick no worse than No. 7 overall, plus a second round choice.

“We have to nail those picks and get a really good player (in the lottery),” said McDonough, who also plans to interview coaching candidates while in Chicago.

For the 33-year-old former Celtics assistant GM, there is no better way to rebuild a franchise than through the draft.

“What we did in Boston was build through the draft and acquire picks,” he explained. “That was the initial plan that we were going to build around those guys. But then the opportunity came along after we had drafted pretty well to acquire Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett with some of the young pieces we acquired. Obviously, when you get those future hall of fame players who are willing and want to come play for your franchise, you can’t pass up on them.

“It’s going to be a combination of drafting players, making sure they develop but we’re also going to examine trades,” McDonough continued. “We’re going to be aggressive in free agency. Really, explore all of the options that are available to us.”

All options are needed because as he said day one, “The talent needs to be upgraded across the board.”