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.”
Suns Prefer Ja Morant Over Zion Williamson
The Phoenix Suns could end up with the 1st overall pick for the second consecutive year, depending on how the ping pong balls drop, but landing the #1 overall pick doesn’t mean they are locked in on Duke phenom Zion Williamson.
According to The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie, the Suns actually prefer Murray State point guard Ja Morant, who had an impressive breakout year in 2018-2019, over Williamson.
Morant became the first player in school history to be named a first-team Associated Press All-American.
Point guard is the biggest position of need for the rebuilding Suns, but passing on Zion could mean passing on a bonafide superstar to pair with Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker.
The thought of a frontcourt featuring Williamson and Ayton would instantly elevate the Suns.
Thunder’s Billy Donovan defends Paul George for End of Game Dunk
Oklahoma City Thunder forward, and MVP candidate, Paul George ruffled the feathers of the Portland Trail Blazers for opting to dunk the ball as opposed to dribbling out the clock in their Game 3 victory.
While George made no friends with the Blazers, who visibly took issue with the dunk, Thunder head coach Billy Donovan had no issue with what took place.
“My feeling was they probably shot a shot,” Donovan said, according to Ben Golliver of the Washington Post. “Paul kind of went in and dunked it. Both teams played the game all the way out.”
George declined to comment on the dunk in the post-game presser.
Celtics’ Brad Stevens Praises Kyrie Irving
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens heaped some incredible praise on Irving for his impressive performance.
Kyrie gets the highest Stevens praise: The 'joke.'— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) April 20, 2019
"The little floating shot he hit was just a joke. He’s ridiculous."
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