GM: Suns should have conducted more interviews before Earl Watson hire
Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough admits that, in hindsight, he should have considered outside candidates before hiring Earl Watson as head coach.
Watson replaced Jeff Hornacek in 2015-16, going 9-24 before the Suns removed the interim tag in April without conducting an interview process to consider other candidates.
“As far as the procedure goes and the process goes, yes, I think we probably should have gone through a more extensive interview process,” McDonough said Wednesday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo show. “Some people said that at the time. Robert and I take and accept that criticism, and I think we’ll learn from that going forward.”
Phoenix replaced Watson with interim Jay Triano after he coached the team to a 24-58 record last season and it began 2017-18 with three losses, two by more than 40 points.
While Triano is McDonough’s third head coach hired since he joined the Suns in 2013, the general manager pointed out that turnover on the bench isn’t exactly a thing unique to Phoenix.
“It is a lot, and I’m not trying to minimize that. I don’t think we’re tremendously unique,” he said.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein pointed out that Watson’s firing ended a unique 532-day stretch with coaching stability across the NBA.
McDonough hopes Triano, who he has said will coach the remainder of the season, is the long-term answer.
The general manager added that the lack of player development played a large part in deciding to fire Watson.
“Anytime you have a team that’s historically young … player development is huge,” McDonough said. “I think the good teams do that really well.”
McDonough also touched on the trade market for Eric Bledsoe, why the point guard became disgruntled and his relationship with Bledsoe’s agency, Klutch Sports.
On why the GM said Bledsoe was getting poor advice from his representatives: “Eric (was) eligible for a renegotiation and extension of his contract … with two years left on his contract, we did not feel like that was something that made sense for the team. We told Eric and his representatives that was something that we were potentially open to discussing next summer with one year left on his deal. I guess they didn’t like that answer and took kind of a hostile approach and kind of shut down and distanced themselves from the team. I think that’s where the approach came from.”
On Bledsoe’s trade value, which had been criticized as being hurt by McDonough’s comments on Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday: “We’ve gotten some pretty good offers, especially in the last 24 hours or so. We’re comfortable with the offers we’re getting. There are a few teams in particular that are being pretty aggressive. Contrary to what you might have heard or read, there is a strong market for Eric Bledsoe.”
On if he thought his comments Tuesday had hurt Bledsoe’s trade value: “No. It’s funny. I think we heard from all 29 teams at this point.”
On a timeline for a Bledsoe trade: “If and when we do a deal, we’ll do it when it’s best for the team.”
On if McDonough’s relationship with Bledsoe’s representatives will hurt future relationships with his agency: “We disagree at the moment. I’ve disagreed with other agents, they’ve disagreed with me.”