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ESPN’s Elhassan: It’s right for Suns to give McDonough fifth season

Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough will have the ability to move up or down the 2016 NBA Draft. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The Phoenix Suns finished with the second-worst record in the NBA this past season, and while in some places that could lead to some changes, the organization appears to be staying the course, at least when it comes to its general manager.

On Monday, it was reported that Ryan McDonough, who is entering the final year of his contract, will stay on in his role, and given what’s transpired it was not really much of a surprise.

Still, it’s a noteworthy move from the Suns, who just finished their seventh-straight season without making the playoffs.

A guest of Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday, ESPN NBA analyst Amin Elhassan said sticking with McDonough made sense.

“Truth be told, his first couple of years he did not have full power and full say and he’s really only been fully in charge for the last two years,” Elhassan said. “He’s had his hits, taking Devin Booker obviously in the late lottery, that was an excellent pick. That was the steal of the draft I think we can say at this point. And he’s had his misses, all that money he gave to Tyson Chandler, all that money he gave to Brandon Knight, trading the Laker pick in that Brandon Knight deal when it really wasn’t necessary to trade that pick.”

McDonough’s tenure with the Suns has seen mixed results. In his first year as GM (2013-2014), Phoenix went 48-34, although that record was not good enough to earn the Suns a spot in the playoffs.

Since then, the Suns have struggled with records of 39-43 and 23-59 before bottoming out with a 24-58 mark this past season.

In that time McDonough has continually reshaped the roster, with some of the moves working out better than others.

Though people will likely point to the misses, Elhassan said he would not point to McDonough as the reason the team has failed to become a winner.

“On balance, I wouldn’t say he’s had a horrendous tenure, I wouldn’t say he’s had a fantastic tenure,” Elhassan said. “So it’s probably right that he should get a year to kind of, OK you get three years you were in charge, did you move the needle? Or did we just rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic?”

Booker has been McDonough’s best pick, and after averaging 22.1 points in his second NBA season — a campaign that included a 70-point outburst in Boston — some are wondering just how great the former Kentucky guard can be.

In fact, could he be the next great NBA superstar?

Elhassan believes Booker will be good, but superstar might be a stretch.

“Superstar implies one of two things: Either you are so ridiculously amazing at offense that your defense doesn’t matter, or you’re going to have to give us a little bit of both,” Elhassan said. “And I don’t know if he’s good enough at either of those things. I do think he can be an All-Star, I do think he can be a face of the franchise type player.”

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