James Jones won’t be fired but front office changes are coming for Phoenix Suns

May 9, 2024, 9:56 PM | Updated: May 10, 2024, 9:37 am

The Phoenix Suns will see a change in their front office, Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro reported on Thursday.

Any change will not be related to James Jones, and Isiah Thomas will not be part of the front office change, according to Gambadoro.

The word of turnover comes as Phoenix on Thursday fired former coach Frank Vogel after one season. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Friday that Mike Budenholzer is expected to become the new head coach, while the team planned to offer former Vogel assistant David Fizdale to be retained in the front office. Charania added later that Fizdale may not accept the offer.

The Suns finished 49-33 and were swept out of the NBA playoffs by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round.

Gambadoro said Jones, the 2021 NBA Executive of the Year, will not be fired but could have a title change. Jones joined the Suns as vice president of basketball operations in 2017 before being named as interim GM the following season. Jones later was promoted to GM and president of basketball operations.

Since Jones is the GM and president of basketball operations, Gambadoro said on Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo that the Suns front office could restructure.

“So, could you hire a president of basketball operations and leave James as the GM and they work together hand in hand,” Gambadoro said. “That could be something that happens.”

The Suns held a press conference last week spearheaded by owner Mat Ishbia and Jones to discuss the team’s future.

Jones gave a statement on the firing of Vogel on Thursday.

“As we said at the press conference on May 1, team leadership including myself, Josh Bartelstein and ownership would be looking across basketball operations to determine what changes needed to be made,” Jones said Thursday. “After a thoughtful review of the season, we concluded that we needed a different head coach for our team. We appreciate Frank’s hard work and commitment.

“We are here to win a championship and last season was way below our expectations. We will continue to evaluate our operation and make the necessary changes to reach our championship-caliber goals. We all take accountability, and it’s my job, along with Josh and ownership, to build a championship team.”

Thomas, who currently serves as an analyst for NBA TV, coached the Indiana Pacers from 2000-2003 and the New York Knicks from 2006-2008. When Thomas was coaching the Knicks, he was accused of sexual harassing a former team executive who was later improperly fired by the organization after complaining about Thomas’ unwanted advances. A jury awarded the victim $11.6 million in punitive damages.

Thomas played 13 years for the Detroit Pistons and helped guide the Pistons to championships in 1989 and 1990.

In 2023, TNT and Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes reported that Ishbia intended to give Thomas a prominent role in the front office, but that never came to fruition.

Ishbia and Thomas are friends but last year Ishbia’s spokesperson told Arizona Sports’ Kellan Olson that Thomas was not to be part of the Suns’ new leadership team.

“Isiah Thomas will not be hired by the Suns in the front office,” Gambadoro reiterated on Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Thursday.

The Suns have had six head coaches in the past nine seasons, and Ishbia has fired two head coaches since taking over the team.

“There are other things that have to be changed,” Gambadoro said. “There’s going to be a front office change coming. There will be a front office change coming so when that happens, we’ll see what that is.”

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