Suns training staff head Aaron Nelson leaves for Pelicans

Apr 30, 2019, 4:55 PM | Updated: 4:58 pm
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)...
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

New Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin knows the Suns organization well, and one of his first moves in his new role has been poaching one of Phoenix’s longest-standing and most important members.

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the former assistant Suns GM has recruited renowned Suns head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson to fill the same role in New Orleans.

On Tuesday, the Suns issued a statement on the departure of Nelson from the organization.

“We are extremely thankful to Aaron for his contributions to the Phoenix Suns over the last 26 years, including the care he provided to hundreds of Suns players along the way,” Suns general manager James Jones said. “We are excited for Aaron as he pursues the next step in his career and wish Aaron, Jessica and their family nothing but the best.”

The Suns’ training staff has long been considered one of the best in all of basketball, and Nelson is a huge reason why. He has held the head athletic trainer position with the Suns for 19 seasons and was named the NBA Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2009.

ESPN recently did a 30 for 30 special on the Suns’ training staff, where Nelson’s work was showcased prominently.

Most notably, Nelson’s methods have received ringing endorsements from former Suns players, including Grant Hill, Steve Nash and Shaquille O’Neal.

Hill even shouted out the Suns’ training staff during his NBA Hall of Fame induction speech and has credited them in helping him extend his playing career.

The Suns’ statement provided an explanation as to how the team will look to further advance the department despite Nelson leaving.

The Suns are undergoing a complete evaluation of their basketball operations, including working with world-class healthcare provider, Steward, as well as human performance company, EXOS, on the team’s medical and performance efforts.

The team is leveraging its partnership with Steward, including its national network of physicians and specialists, to add depth and experience to the club’s medical operations this offseason. The Steward team includes experts in primary care sports medicine, orthopedic surgery, physical therapy, athletic training, sports psychology, and more, which the Suns will utilize to advance the team’s efforts.

In addition, the Suns are partnering with EXOS on a new collaboration that will support an expansion of the team’s efforts in the sustainable high performance space. Headquartered in Phoenix and renowned globally for helping athletes unlock potential while reducing injuries, EXOS builds customized player performance programs and provides the tools and resources to ensure teams have useful data, insights and expert guidance. More details will be announced in the near future.

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