Phoenix Suns’ James Jones elaborates on new role, state of ownership

Nov 29, 2022, 5:12 PM | Updated: Nov 30, 2022, 9:52 am

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns announced on Monday that general manager James Jones is now the president of basketball operations while also still holding onto that GM title.

With any title change like this in a professional sports organization’s front office, the question is immediately presented of what it exactly means.

Different titles can mean different things for different teams.

For Jones, he said this type of move allows him to focus on the bigger picture of the franchise, serving as more of a “steward” for the smaller stuff.

“Whenever you have the responsibilities I have as a general manager which means generally manage the day to day — you’re drawn into the whirlwind,” he said Tuesday. “Every aspect of the day. From what guys are eating to what packages are being delivered at the front door. This just forces me to step away from some of those things and delegate some of those responsibilities and to give my team an opportunity to grow.”

Jones was involved in the past with focusing on the Phoenix Mercury, the team’s WNBA franchise, but now he will do so even more in a more formal role.

He described the entire change as “freedom mentally” and it sounds like the loads on his plate changing will be for his betterment.

It is a, uh, promotion I guess we’ll call it, that Jones has more than earned. The 2020-21 Executive of the Year has not only turned the Suns into a contender but has completely transformed the organization by giving it an identity and culture that previously didn’t even exist.

Jones said he is not focused on hiring a general manager right now and doesn’t envision any personnel changes occurring at this time.

With a new title like this for Jones, you could imagine that coming in time, with Jones presumably still holding the final say in decisions on the basketball side.

Something like that, however, might have to wait until the franchise’s ownership situation is settled as Robert Sarver continues going through the process of selling it.

That in and of itself made it somewhat of a surprise that a move restructuring the leadership flow got done while interim owner Sam Garvin is overseeing things.

But a thought like that, the notion that getting bigger things done while a for sale sign is draped over the Suns is more difficult, is a misconception according to Jones.

“That’s inaccurate,” he said. “We’re able to do our business. We couldn’t function without the autonomy and efforts of everyone on the business side as well as the basketball side. We started the season saying this was going to be another season for us where we push toward our goals of competing and we’re going to do the best job we can.

“We’ve been fortunate to have Sam step in and provide leadership and guidance and support for us to continue the momentum. Because this is a game of momentum. The season is a season of ups and downs, and if you can continue to push upward and minimize the downs, it makes it a lot easier to focus on winning games.”

Are updates coming in for Jones on the ownership situation or is he keeping himself away from it to focus on basketball?

“I’m aware,” Jones said. “You have to do both. I’m aware but it doesn’t negatively impact or add stress to the situation. There’s more a sense of excitement, just knowing that there’s a process underway that will eventually come to a conclusion and that conclusion will be one that we all benefit from and are excited to come to fruition.”

Just a matter of when it gets done and not if, right?

“It’s timing,” Jones said. “That’s the nature of basketball season. There’s a beginning, there’s an end. And so, at some point, this will come to an end. But until then, like I said, we’re focused on winning games and being one of the best franchises in the NBA.”

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