Ryan McDonough and the Suns win the press conference


PHOENIX – The first step in correcting mistakes is admitting them. After that, it takes a risk to get back on the track to success. The Phoenix Suns have an extensive list of mistakes, and the initial step out of the cellar was firing general manager Lance Blanks.

Robert Sarver and Lon Babby took a risk by hiring 33-year-old replacement Ryan McDonough from the Boston Celtics, but if they hadn’t won the introductory press conference before it happened, they certainly won it by the time it was over.

Taking risks is what McDonough will need to do in moving the Suns out of the basement. He said being unafraid was the biggest thing he learned under former boss Danny Ainge.

“Not every move is going to be perfect, you’ll probably make some mistakes,” he said. “If you’re willing to work at it and correct some of those mistakes, and again if you’re unafraid, that can lead to some great results.”

McDonough endeared himself to the media contingent on Thursday. He was polite, ultra-professional but far from intimidating. He was well versed to the detail of responding to questions by using the media members’ first names. Maybe he read the list of potential attendees to get it right and avoid mishearing their introductions, but even that would be considered leaps ahead of any press conference prep that Blanks displayed.

By taking the job, McDonough wasn’t put off by any reputation the Suns had built over the last three years. The fact Ainge, his mentor, vouched for McDonough and that the Celtics assistant GM was willing to leave provided hope in the Valley that Thursday was a new day in the franchise’s recently dim history.

“Boston is home to me,” McDonough said. “I feel like I was in a great spot there, and I wasn’t going to leave unless it was a spectacular opportunity.”

And so the Suns entered into a new era under a man with the opportunity to mold things how he sees fit. He’ll be further familiarized with the current Suns staffers, and McDonough said he will consider adding his own guys, particularly in the scouting department. Such was a good sign that Phoenix is willing to give its young gun GM the flexibility to do whatever is necessary to win.

Babby opened McDonough’s press conference seemingly holding back his excitement with his usual reciting of his “Five Ps” philosophy – preparation, perseverance, poise, pride and performance. First, he couldn’t help but throwing zingers left and right.

“You’ll notice Ryan has on a newly-issued Phoenix Suns tie. They are available in the team shop,” the president of basketball operations said to open the introduction.

“As we all know, the Phoenix Suns have a fetish for brothers,” he continued as he introduced McDonough’s brothers Sean, an ESPN and ABC commentator, and Terry, who recently was brought on the Arizona Cardinals as a scout.

In terms of preparation, Babby said he sent questions to the potential GM candidates before the interview process began, and Ryan McDonough had “college essays” available by his interview. McDonough met with the Suns for 11 hours in a first meeting before a five-hour meeting in New York. An important part of the interview process was discussing head coaching candidates, and Phoenix seemingly killed two birds with one stone in getting that started before even making the GM hire official.

“I was drained by the end of it, all wrinkled up and probably sweaty and I look over at him and he looks like he just came out of the shower, fresh as a daisy,” Babby said. “He’s got poise nailed.”

Babby added that McDonough’s performance was obvious in his work with Boston, where assets in the form of draft picks turned into solid players that the Celtics kept (Rajon Rondo) or others that turned into trade chips that helped the team acquire stars leading to a title (Al Jefferson for Kevin Garnett).

And as for pride, McDonough’s Boston roots showed with the support from his family, one that has an extensive background in sports. Asked about his brothers attending Thursday — Jay Bilas was also present, a good sign that Phoenix hired a guy well respected in the basketball world — the press conference ended with McDonough choking up.

“Geez, I saw George Karl do this last night talking about his family,” he said. “He’s Coach of the Year, he’s a Hall of Famer, so hopefully you give me a little rope here. It’s special for them to be here.”

The press conference was won.

And suddenly with the interview process already having helped to compile a list of head coaching candidates, the Suns have suddenly come from behind to even themselves with the other rebuilding NBA squads.

“My immediate focus after finding a coach is drafting the best players,” McDonough said. “I would say generally you always have to draft well. That’s the life-blood of your franchise.”

The Suns can only hope McDonough can get the blood flowing like the good ol’ days.

  • a-game

    From what ive heard and read, babby and sarver are giving him a lot of room to work with (bringing in his own people, getting rid of current unproductive staff, etc…) which is a great sign. Plus he is theeee ONE whos spear heading the HC job, a great sign that babs and sarver is staying out of his way.

    Patience suns fans….PATIENCE! Let the young man do his thing.

  • Beasley’s No.1 fan

    I believe in Ryan McDonough and I personally will have patience as well as hope for the future as long as Sarver lets Ryan run the show.

  • Scott

    Well … McD’s ideal about the draft is better than what the Suns had in the D’Antoni era (B Colangelo & Kerr). The draft absolutely is the life-blood of a team, and I’m curious to see who he picks and how he gets them ready to play (developed).

  • Azbballfan

    Wow, Lance Blanks must have seemed like a troll the way suns people are praising McDonough press conference

    A GM that actually talks to people? what an idea!

    Yep hopefully these next 2 drafts we get some serious work done and get future rotation players or stars

    no more selling lottery picks for cash please (unless the cash is going to a team and the picks are coming to us)

    Teams cant afford to screw up the draft every year and i am hopeful that this GM wonderkind will stop that nonsense right now

    he has gotten alot out of mid to high 1st rounders in his career with boston

    i fully expect the Suns to target teams with middle 1st round picks like Atlanta and Cleveland and see what players they want from us

    Any current player that turns into a 2013 or 2014 draft pick is fine with me

    I am also excited that McD is taking over the head coach search and bringing in his own guys

    does that mean that john trelor is in trouble?

    We need to get as many assets and young talent as possible, the 2014 draft could very well change this entire this entire franchise in a positive way

    i really hope they avoid the mistake of doing a quick fix that kills cap space, flexibility, and 2014 draft status to make this team from one of the worst to just mediocre

    that would be a huge mistake and since McD has like a 4 year deal, i dont think a quick fix is the plan

    i am awaiting his first 3 moves as GM

    getting rid of Beasley, doing something with brown, and getting a new coach

    I would vote for Mike Buldhozer, nate mcmillan, maurice cheeks, jeff vangundy

    OLADIP—-sorry that slipped out

    i mean lets go get some good players

  • Forever is2long

    I am giving the executive staff a standing ovation for apparently trusting Ryan and for Ryan realizing he needs his own crew to accomplish the desired goal of having a promising draft. Ryan has some really good sponsors.which hopefully will help in giving this team the face lift it badly needs.

  • Azbballfan

    oops i meant to say, low 1st round picks instead of high 1st round picks

  • http://wzwytcswodu.com Lettie

    Clear, inifrmatove, simple. Could I send you some e-hugs?