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.”
Wizards Preparing Run at Masai Ujiri
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Wizards are looking to offer Ujiri a deal that could approach $10 million annually and also give him the opportunity for ownership equity.
Ujiri, who has two years left on his contract, constructed the NBA Champion Raptors team that just defeated the Golden State Warriors, and his unique vision and team building is credited as helping the Raptors reach the NBA’s ultimate prize.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is expected to reach out to Toronto ownership soon to request formal permission to meet with Ujiri, 48, and make him the astronomical offer which includes running the Wizards’ basketball operations and could also include taking on a larger leadership role in the Monumental Sports and Entertainment company that oversees the Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals franchise.
Warriors’ Klay Thompson Suffers Torn ACL in Left Knee
Thompson was hurt with 2 minutes, 22 seconds left in the third quarter when he was fouled as he attempted a dunk by Raptors guard Danny Green, forcing Thompson to land hard, and awkwardly, and he immediately grabbed his knee in pain and stayed on the floor for several minutes.
Thompson would head to the locker-room, only to return to shoot his free throws and attempt to play, but was pulled following the free throws when Warriors’ center DeMarcus Cousins caused an intentional foul to stop the game.
Thompson was having an incredible night for the Warriors, and had 30 points in 32 minutes, going 8-for-12 from the field and pulling down five rebounds when he exited for good.
“It’s just tough in terms of a guy like Klay that left it all out there,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said of Thompson (h/t ESPN). “He was playing amazing tonight. And to see a freak play like that where he lands awkwardly. I don’t know the diagnosis yet, but you think about the person and the guy and how much he loves to play the game, and that’s the only thoughts you have. It’s really not about what it means in terms of playing basketball. It’s just I’m more concerned about him as an individual.”
“Obviously he’s a warrior,” Cousins said. “He’s a true definition of a warrior. Dude [was] basically on one leg, and he’s still trying to come out to play. To have a teammate like that, that’s all you can ever ask for. Love that dude to death. I’d go to battle with him any night.”
Warriors’ Draymond Green Says Team Run Not Over
Although the Golden State Warriors were defeated by the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals, Warriors forward Draymond Green doesn’t think it’s wise to think that the Warriors run,which has included three titles in the past 5 years, is over.
“I think everybody thinks it’s kind of the end of us,” Green said, according to ESPN. “But that’s just not smart. We’re not done yet. We lost this year. Clearly just wasn’t our year, but that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. But, yeah, I hear a lot of that noise, it’s the end of a run and all that jazz. I don’t see it happening, though. We’ll be back.”
Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Green’s teammate, share Green’s sentiment.
“We’ll be thinking about this one. It’s tough,” Curry said. “But our DNA and who we are and the character that we have on this team, I wouldn’t bet against us being back on this stage next year and going forward. So, really proud of the way that we fought until the end, and this five-year run’s been awesome, but definitely don’t think it’s over.”
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr reflected on the Warriors’ dominant run over the past 5 seasons.
“It’s hard to put into words how I feel about our team,” Kerr said. “What I’ve witnessed as their coach over the last five years is just an incredible combination of talent and character and commitment to each other. This just doesn’t happen. A group of guys like this doesn’t come around together and do what they did over the last five years. And I’ve been lucky enough to be their coach. That’s what I told them in the locker room.
“I can’t tell you my gratitude in terms of just being put in this position to be with this group and to coach them and to help them. But I could not be any luckier as a coach to be with these guys every day and to watch them compete and, boy, do they compete. I think they showed that throughout this series and throughout the playoffs.”
Green made it a point to note how the team battled, despite the losing effort.
“Obviously, you feel good about it, but it’s no shocker to us,” Green said. “We know what this team has been made of all along. I said it over and over again, the pretty offense will always be the storyline, but this team, a ton of heart. Everybody that steps on that floor displayed a ton of heart. So it’s no shocker to us that we continue to fight, but we came up a little short and that’s just it.”
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