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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.”

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavs’ Tristan Thompson Out 2-4 Weeks

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The Cleveland Cavaliers will be without center Tristan Thompson for two-to-four weeks with a sprained left foot, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Thompson exited Monday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks during the third quarter after he landed awkwardly on the foot of Bucks’ guard Malcolm Brogdon.

Thompson, 27, is averaging 12 points and 11.6 rebounds per game this season for Cleveland.

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Chicago Bulls

Bulls’ Zach Lavine Meets Privately with Jim Boylen

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Amid the division within the Chicago Bulls organization between new head coach Jim Boylen, who took over recently for the fired Fred Hoiberg, and a number of players on the roster, has taken another turn.

According to ESPN’s Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelbourne, Bulls guard Zach LaVine spoke with Boylen one-on-one following the players boycotting of Sunday’s practice imposed by Boylen, which they felt was excessive.

“You just want to be real with people,” LaVine said, per the report. “There shouldn’t be any clouds. I think of myself as one of the leaders on the team. I just wanted to voice my opinion to them.”

“This is a business, this isn’t a dictatorship. We are all grown men, so everybody has a voice.”

Boylen has said that he has spoken with the team regarding the purpose of the practice on Sunday, but it is clear that the dysfunction runs deep in the organization.

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Eastern Conference

Knicks Could Trade Enes Kanter

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Enes Kanter’s days as a member of the New York Knicks could be coming to a close as the veteran big man could be traded by the Knicks ahead of this year’s NBA trade deadline, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

If they choose not to trade him, the Knicks could renounce him during the offseason to maximize their cap space so that they could be major players in free agency next summer.

“If the Knicks are going free-agent shopping in July, they will likely do it without Kanter,” Marks speculated. “The impending free agent has a $27.9 million cap hold, and the only clear path for New York to create max room would be to renounce Kanter or let him walk in the summer.

The question leading into the deadline: Will the front office decide to maximize Kanter’s trade value now or keep the center as an insurance policy if they miss out on their free-agent targets?”

Kanter has posted 14.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game for New York this season.

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