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Shortcuts didn’t work for Suns GM Ryan McDonough

Philadelphia 76ers' Richaun Holmes, center, dunks the ball as Phoenix Suns' P.J. Tucker, from left, Alex Len and Markieff Morris defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

When you make a decision to cut in a line you’re taking a risk.

The end point can come quicker if you don’t get caught, but if you do, the process takes even longer.

This is the predicament Suns general manager Ryan McDonough found himself in and his decisions along the way cost head coach Jeff Hornacek his job.

“We got off to a tremendous start our first season winning 48 games and were the most improved team in the league,” said McDonough. “In some ways that skewed expectations and raised the bar for what was expected from us. We tried to be aggressive and improve upon that team.”

In the end, the 2013-14 season ended up being the high point of the McDonough and Hornacek era, and those improvements never came.

The dream of signing a big-time free agent such as LeBron James or LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t come to fruition, and the backup plans haven’t worked out even if there was logical reasoning behind some of the ideas.

During the 48-win campaign, the Suns struggled when one of Eric Bledsoe or Goran Dragic weren’t on the court. Signing Isaiah Thomas gave them another dribble-drive ball handler to make sure two players with that skill set were on the court at the same time.

Sound reasoning, poor result.

Treating the Morris brothers as a single entity during their contract negotiations was a fun story and a good idea in theory, but the NBA is a business, not a fun-loving democracy. The idea that they were a package together never should have been planted in their minds.

Creative idea, poor result.

The Suns wanted their offensive scheme to be built around an effective pick and roll game. Phoenix went out and signed Tyson Chandler, one of the best PnR big men in the history of the league. Chandler’s lost his legs and is struggling to finish at the rim, something he did with ease just a season ago.

Sound reasoning, poor result.

McDonough cashed in his biggest asset, the Lakers protected lottery pick, for Brandon Knight, and the right to pay Knight. He was expected to be a cornerstone player along with Bledsoe, Markieff Morris and Chandler. Instead of showing an upward trajectory, Knight has continued to struggle in many of the same ways he did with his previous two teams.

Poor reasoning, poor result.

On the radio with Dough & Wolf Tuesday morning and once again this afternoon, McDonough owned up to the responsibility of where the team sits, but wouldn’t address any specific moves.

“I think where mistakes have been made is maybe we tried to rush the process a little bit,” said McDonough. “What I mean by process is you look at the elite teams in the league, most of them, Golden State, Oklahoma City, those two come to mind. They built something, slowly, and painfully, and it took time.”

Despite these missteps, McDonough was allowed the power to have someone else take the fall.

“It was my recommendation to ownership,” said McDonough on the firing of Hornacek. “It was something I really deliberated with for a while. It was hard for me personally and professionally. It’s my first time through it as a general manager.”

The question now is if McDonough will be allowed to see through his vision of what he wants to accomplish.

He’s been an astute drafter in the first round, giving the Suns a base of young talent featuring Devin Booker, Alex Len and T.J. Warren. Phoenix has a bevy of draft picks and future salary cap space to go with some nice pieces.

The problem is when McDonough tried to cut the line he got caught and sent all the way to the back. Now we wait and see if he will be given the time to get back to the front.


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