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Former Suns’ General Manager Ryan McDonough Talks Tenure, Firing

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It was surprising to see the Phoenix Suns fire general manager Ryan McDonough prior to the season starting, but the Suns have done some whacky things in the past. Still, McDonough was entering the season without a true starting point guard and the organization didn’t feel good moving forward with that scenario.

McDonough made an appearance this morning on ‘The Jump’ and talked about his tenure, the Suns organization, roster, and his firing.

“I viewed the roster as not fully completed” McDonough said when asked about the timing of his dimissal. We were working on a few trades to upgrade the team, and I guess I thought we had more time than I ended up having.”

“Phoenix is a great place to live. It’s a great place to play. The team is super young, so I think that hurt us somewhat in terms of recruiting elite free agents in their prime” McDonough said when discussing the challenges of luring marquee free agents to Phoenix. “The two foundational pieces that we left there are 22 years old (Booker) and 20 (Ayton). I think free agents, especially veteran free agents like a LeBron James or LaMarcus Aldridge, look at it and say, ‘They’re a little ways away.’

“It is a challenge. There are unique challenges to every setup, every situation. The Suns have been a destination franchise in the past. I think, and hope, as Devin and Deandre and the rest of the young players improve, they will be again in the future.”

McDonough had his regrets as well.

“The biggest regret, I think, is how public some of the conflicts with the players became. I think the good organizations have historically handled that behind closed doors. And that’s not a shot at Phoenix — that’s more of a shot at me than anything. We could have done better internally, from ownership and the front office and our coaching staff in terms of communication with the players, and vice versa. If I do jump back in on the team side at some point, I’ll learn from that. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting over the last couple weeks, just thinking about how we can do better in that area going forward.”

McDonough also defended his decision to sign Trevor Ariza, another wing, instead of prioritizing a point guard during the offseason.

“We studied the final four teams in the league last year, and other than Cleveland with LeBron, if you look at Golden State, Houston, and Boston, they have a ton of interchangeable wing players” McDonough explained. “And a lot of times, they’ll have three or even four of them on the court at a time.

Ariza was an unrestricted free agent, he’s a West Coast guy, he had interest in coming to Phoenix, and we viewed his contract similar to how Philly viewed J.J. Redick‘s contract a year ago, where we can pay him a lot of money for one year [and] keep our future flexibility. … We thought Ariza would help us take a step from rebuilding to hopefully being playoff competitive. And then we could build from there, either with Ariza or with an elite free agent from the 2019 class.”

New Orleans Pelicans

Pelicans’ Elfrid Payton to Miss 6 Weeks

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The New Orleans Pelicans will be without guard Elfrid Payton for up to six weeks, according to an official team report.

Payton suffered a fractured left fifth finger against the New York Knicks on November 16 and will undergo surgery tomorrow to repair the fracture. New Orleans signed him as a free agent this offseason and he has been a great fit in the backcourt this season.

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Eastern Conference

Wizards ‘Giving Impression’ John Wall, Bradley Beal Available in Trade

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The Washington Wizards may be ready to open up shop and trade guard John Wall or Bradley Beal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Per the report, the longtime untouchable pieces of the Wizards’ core are now not so unobtainable as Washington has struggled to a dismal 5-11 record this season and with play on the court looking listless.

Washington has tried shopping Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre in hopes of bringing in a 3rd star to team with Beal and Wall, but have been unable to find any takers, leading them to consider dealing the two superstars.

Washington’s preference remains to reshape the team around Wall and Beal but the play has paralyzed their efforts in acquiring stars such as Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, per league sources.

Beal, who is younger than Wall, will likely be the more attractive trade piece, even financially. Wall’s contract extension starts in 2019-20 and will average $42 million annually for four years, and is considered to be a favorite among ownership.

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Eastern Conference

Knicks’ Trey Burke Says Team Like Navy SEALS

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New York Knicks point guard Trey Burke compared his team to the Navy SEALS for the way they put their lives on the line when they take the court. While the comparison may seem ridiculous, Burke elaborated.

“It’s a whole level of focus we have to have,’’ Trey Burke said, according to the New York Post’s Marc Berman. “Take the me out of it and it’s we. It’s like Navy SEALs. There’s lives on the line. I know it’s not life and death, but in this league it kind of is. You want to win games. We got to learn to value it. We value just being in the games with these playoff teams. ‘We’re in the game.’ It’s not what it’s about.’

Burke knows that he has to be ready when he is called upon.

When my number’s called, I can’t be something I’m not,’’ Burke said. “I have to be the guard that I am. Coach [David Fizdale] told me to attack. That’s what I’m going to do. I can’t try to please being someone I’m not. That’s what I did earlier in the season. For this team to win, I have to be the Trey Burke everyone knows I can be.”

Burke had to work hard to get back to the NBA, with a strong performance in the G-League earning him a spot on the Knicks roster. While Burke struggled this season, he has started to showcase the ability he had when he lit up the G League last year.

“[I was] being conservative, letting the game come to me,’’ Burke said. “Not attacking immediately. Naturally I’m a scoring point guard. When I attack it’s not always for me to score, it creates for others to. I wasn’t doing that.

“Earlier in the season, I was settling too much for jump shots. Having time to reflect how I was effective last season and different spurts throughout my career, I was always in attack mode and having fun and getting in the paint.

“We didn’t win but it’s a game I can build on,’’ Burke said.

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