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GM James Jones reinforces stance on how Suns value NBA Draft

Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones speaks to the media regarding the firing of Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov, Wednesday, April 24, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

When James Jones was just the Phoenix Suns’ co-interim general manager over a year ago, he told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo the NBA Draft was less of their focus when it came to building a roster.

“We have a bunch of young players in this draft,” he said in December of 2018. “We’ve been deep in the draft, we’ve drafted a lot of players over the years and our focus has shifted more to development of these players and looking at NBA players that we possibly can add to this team.”

With the NBA trade deadline on Thursday and the Suns reportedly discussing a deal involving their first-round pick and Detroit Pistons guard Luke Kennard, Jones was asked again about how Phoenix chooses to value draft picks versus more established players in the league.

“The draft is a place where you can add tremendous depth, where you can add tremendous capacity to your team and set you up for the future, but current players actually produce and you see that productivity in real time,” he said Tuesday. “It just depends on the situation, depends on the player and more importantly it depends on the position.”

That was most recently backed up by how Jones went about the 2019 NBA Draft, in which he drafted 23-year-old Cam Johnson at No. 11 and traded for the draft rights to 22-year-old Ty Jerome in the late first round from the Boston Celtics. Both have skills and attributes that Jones desires, such as being high-IQ winners and good shooters, but are also more seasoned and less raw.

Jones has already traded three draft picks in his short time as general manager. In that Jerome deal, he gave up a protected first-round pick from the Milwaukee Bucks that will likely be either Nos. 29 or 30 in this class. Then, in order to dump Josh Jackson in a deal to the Memphis Grizzlies, he traded the Suns’ upcoming second-round pick and the rest of the protections on a previously traded 2021 second-rounder.

If a Kennard trade comes to fruition, any potential protections on the first-round pick will determine the value of the deal.

With the NBA Draft Lottery, the Suns could move into the top-four of the draft, but could also slide in the standings even further. They are currently slated to pick either 11th or 12th with a record of 20-30. Those positions in portions of the top-10 and maybe all 10 spots as a whole are positions the Suns will have an interest in protecting.

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