PHOENIX SUNS

Suns GM James Jones on why Frank Vogel was fired: ‘We needed to improve in a lot of areas’

May 17, 2024, 6:29 PM

President of basketball operations and general manager James Jones explained why the Phoenix Suns fired former coach Frank Vogel and why they waited so long to hire Mike Budenholzer as their next head coach.

The Suns fired Vogel last week after just one season after Phoenix finished with a 49-33 record.

Despite having a Big Three of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, the team struggled to develop chemistry throughout the season and oftentimes did not play as a cohesive unit.

Jones said the move to hire Budenholzer was about fit and what the team needed.

“We needed to improve in a lot of areas,” Jones said. “It wasn’t one specific area. By and large, we just felt the timing to shift was right. We moved quickly to (Budenholzer) just because when we look at our roster and what our roster needs, he fits it. I’m a competitive guy. Throughout that process, (Budenholzer) must have said ‘compete’ 95 times in two minutes. …  I thought that was an area of our team where we could be better. Because there were bouts where we didn’t reach out potential. A lot of that was just the inconsistency in our competitive nature, so that was something we wanted to rectify, and I believe we were getting it right.”

Jones later joined Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday after the introductory press conference for Budenholzer.

Jones explained the decision to fire Vogel and hire Budenholzer when they did was about timing. The Suns waited 11 days after the team was swept by Minnesota to fire Vogel but Jones said the Suns were not waiting to see if Budenholzer would accept the job before firing Vogel.

“We were in earnest just trying to focus on one thing at a time,” Jones said. “Did we have what we believed was the right mix? Were we headed in the right direction? Were we on course to achieve our goals of winning a championship, competing for a championship? After we discussed it, we thought about it, we looked at it, we gave ourselves some time to think about it, not get emotional, evaluate it objectively, we just figured that we needed to make a change.”

Jones also said he took the opinions of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal into account when coming to a decision on whether or not to fire Vogel.

“I use the word perspective, right? Everyone has a perspective from their viewpoint,” Jones said. “What did we do well? What didn’t we do well? What can we do better and how we get here? We listened to those guys and they listened to us. It’s a back-and-forth, it’s a dialog. But ultimately, you take it in totality. We all have to work together. We all have to own our piece of it. Those guys definitely have some influence. It’s not just driven by those three guys. It’s driven collectively by what will help this entire team get behind the vision, the goal of winning a championship.”

After the Milwaukee Bucks fired Budenholzer on May 4, 2023, just more than a week after their first-round playoff loss to the Miami Heat, Budenholzer did not coach in 2023-24. Jones explained why the Suns hired Vogel in June 2023 instead of hiring Budenholzer last year.

“It’s just time,” Jones said. “Mike was coming off of a heck of a run in Milwaukee. Personally, professionally, he had given a lot. Things move fast in this business so going from one team to another. He didn’t have the proper time to decompress. … Sometimes you just need to get your mind right, get healthy and get into a right spot where you can give everything you need for the position and he just wasn’t in a position to do that last summer.”

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Suns GM James Jones on why Frank Vogel was fired: ‘We needed to improve in a lot of areas’