Suns extend GM Ryan McDonough, add James Jones to front office

Jul 19, 2017, 11:01 AM | Updated: 12:43 pm
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The Phoenix Suns extended the contract of general manager Ryan McDonough on Wednesday in a move that should allow him to see his rebuilding project through. The extension is a multi-year deal through the 2019-20 season.

The team also named former Suns forward James Jones the vice president of basketball operations. Phoenix said he will oversee “all basketball-related matters … including the draft, free agency and trades.”

Owner Robert Sarver called an 11 a.m. press conference Wednesday to announce the decision.

McDonough, 36, was hired as the Phoenix general manager in May 2013.

Leaving his post as the Boston Celtics assistant GM, he replaced former Suns general manager Lance Blanks and worked with president of basketball operations Lon Babby. McDonough eventually took on more responsibility when Babby stepped away from his post before the 2015-16 season; Babby left his part-time duties as a senior adviser in May 2016.

Phoenix re-signs McDonough at the beginning of the final year of his current contract.

In his time with the Suns, McDonough has had his fair share of successes and failures. The biggest of the latter: never making a playoff appearance in four seasons, extending the franchise’s postseason drought to seven seasons.

McDonough worked quickly in his first season as general manager, trading for guard Eric Bledsoe to pair with backcourt mate Goran Dragic and hiring coach Jeff Hornacek. He also dumped the contract of Marcin Gortat, among others, yet saw the roster produce a 48-win season only to miss the 2014 playoffs by a game.

The Suns took a step backward in 2014-15, winning just 39 games as injuries and turmoil hit. A three-guard lineup that included offseason free agent addition Isaiah Thomas soured on Phoenix, and McDonough traded a disgruntled Dragic to the Heat at the player’s demand.

McDonough also traded Thomas to the Celtics and acquired Brandon Knight, who through two-plus seasons in Phoenix has dealt with injuries and inefficiency — enough to where he lost his starting role and was benched last season.

Among the successes, the drafting of Devin Booker 13th overall in 2015 has given the Suns a franchise player to build around.

McDonough’s extension represents the confidence from Sarver that the young core the general manager has assembled can develop over the next several years and has already taken steps forward in 23- and 24-win seasons over the past two years. That core includes Booker (20 years old), Dragan Bender (19),  Derrick Jones Jr. (20), Marquese Chriss (20), Josh Jackson (20), Tyler Ulis (21), Davon Reed (22), T.J. Warren (23) and Alan Williams (24)

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