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Phoenix Suns fire general manager Ryan McDonough

Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough does an interview with The Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

The Phoenix Suns have relieved general manager Ryan McDonough of his duties and named vice president of basketball operations James Jones and assistant general manager Trevor Bukstein in charge on an interim basis, the team announced Monday.

“After much thought and a long evaluation of our basketball operations, I have decided to relieve Ryan McDonough of his duties as general manager of the Phoenix Suns,” said Suns managing partner Robert Sarver in a release.

“Our focus in the short term is to prepare for the upcoming NBA season and to continue pursuing opportunities to strengthen our roster. Over the course of the season, we will explore both internal and external options as we look to restructure our basketball front office leadership. On behalf of the entire organization, I want to thank Ryan for his efforts and contributions during his five-plus years with the Suns. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”

McDonough, who has two years left on his contract, told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro on Monday that he appreciates the opportunity the organization gave him and believes the Suns are in a better place than they were when he was hired.

The Suns informed McDonough of their decision to fire him on Sunday.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Kevin McHale, who has served as a head coach and front office member in tenures with Minnesota and Houston, could be a candidate to watch. Jones could also be a long-term replacement option, Wojnarowski added.

Phoenix had extended the contract of McDonough, 37, in July 2017 while also adding Jones to the staff.

McDonough, hired in May of 2013 to work alongside holdover Lon Babby, the then president of basketball operations, oversaw head coaching tenures of Jeff Hornacek (2013-16), Earl Watson (2016-17), Jay Triano (interim, 2017-18) and Igor Kokoskov (present). The team went 155-255 over that span.

The Suns have not made the postseason since 2010.

McDonough, then an assistant GM for the Boston Celtics, took over a scuffling franchise in 2013 that had won 25 games prior and led them to surprising success in 2013-14. The team won 48 games yet missed the playoffs, leading to win-now moves that ultimately proved unfruitful.

Phoenix won 39 games in McDonough’s second year on the job, then 23, 24 and 21 games over the past three seasons.

His successes included the drafting of now-21-year-old guard Devin Booker and T.J. Warren late in the lottery.

But roster turnover never allowed continuity with McDonough finding himself involved in public trade demands from starters such as Goran Dragic, Markieff Morris and Eric Bledsoe, who were all traded.

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