Ryan McDonough has the Suns ahead of the curve

Posted by on May 29th, 11:20 am

PHOENIX – On May 21, Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough admitted that it was a complex time. The draft lottery had just been settled and McDonough instead got blitzed by questions about the head coaching search. With so many openings around the NBA, he said, the Suns would have their work cut out for them.

The Suns were introducing their new head coach a week later.

Reports broke five days after the lottery that McDonough had tabbed Jeff Hornacek as the 16th coach in Suns history, and six days later, Paul Coro reported McDonough had hired two highly-respected scouts in Washington Wizards director of player personnel Pat Connelly and former Lakers assistant general manager Ronnie Lester.

The franchise has undergone a good-looking makeover in five weeks since Lance Blanks was fired on April 22.

Just after McDonough’s hire, The Arizona Republic’s Bob Young wrote that hiring Hornacek would be a great first impression for the new GM.

“I wish you just would’ve done what you told me to do when I took the job and hired Jeff,” McDonough said in response to a question by Young. “That would’ve saved me a lot of sleepless nights over the last few nights, and I probably still wouldn’t be living in a hotel if that were the case.”

McDonough has already shown he’s not messing around. Through all the gruntwork, he’s proved he’s capable without president of basketball operations Lon Babby holding his hand. He introduced Hornacek – by “he” I mean he, not Babby, who made a quick introduction on Tuesday and relieved himself to watch the two new hires work their magic at the podium.

So much for the Lance Blanks days.

Suddenly the Suns are ahead of the curve. They hired a general manager first, who then led the charge for a new head coach and a revised scouting staff. This all came before a number of teams – the Clippers, Sixers, Nets, Pistons and Bucks – could handle finding just a coach.

Draft workouts are just starting to ramp up, and Hornacek has already compiled a list of candidates for his assistant positions.

While the results will tell whether McDonough’s hires and draft choices will bring success to the franchise following the worst season since its inaugural year, it sure looks like Phoenix is in a better place than it was just weeks ago.

Remember, this is a two-way street. McDonough had to sell the Suns on Hornacek as much as Hornacek had to sell himself.

“They have not put us in a bad position salary-wise and the ability to go out there and get free agents,” said the Suns coach. “Those guys (Babby and Robert Sarver) have set it up pretty well.

“You have to have a foundation,” Hornacek said of the roster. “Obviously, we’re not at a championship level with this team where we can say we’re happy with this group. But for me as a coach, you come into each training camp and you have no preconceived notions with these guys.”

McDonough pointed to his days in Boston as proof that a team could quickly turn itself around, Hornacek said of his interview process. There are no guarantees, but the Celtics’ past was the obvious hard evidence that Hornacek wasn’t working with the downtrodden franchise that appeared to be in place this past season.

“It’s like coming home,” he said, this after name-dropping Suns legends from Dick Van Arsdale, to Alvan Adams, to Charles Barkley, to Steve Nash.

But the key piece in all this change is McDonough, who got things done and quickly.

Suns courting Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace?

Memphis’ ESPN radio show host Chris Vernon reports that Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace could look into joining the Suns as assistant GM or adviser. The Kings are also inquiring about his services. Should it happen, it’d be another big-time name joining the front office since McDonough took over.

And 1

Hornacek on being traded from the Suns: “They shipped me out of here for Charles. We joked about it several times today – I was part of trading myself. We were in the weight room again Seattle in the playoffs and I was there with Dick Van Arsdale getting ready for a game. Barkley was up on the TV saying he needed to get out of Philadelphia and I said, ‘That’s the guy we need.’ I always said if I was a GM or owner I would make the same trade.”

Kevin Zimmerman is the lead blogger and editor for Valley of the Suns. He is also editor of AZDesertSwarm.com, an Arizona Wildcats\’ blog, and a contributor at SB Nation and Pac-12.com.

Twitter LinkedIn Google+ 

Tags: Jeff Hornacek · Ryan McDonough

52 responses so far ↓

  • 1 A-Game // May 29, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Its so refreshing to see both babby and sarver staying out of McDonough’s way in terms of bball related issues. The fact that babby stepped aside after his intro speech during the “Horny” presser says ALOT!!!!!! It shows how much they’ve grown as an organization and how much they trust and respect their new young stud GM. As a young guy myself, I dig that!!

    I hope the “staying out of his way” trend continues.

  • 2 Scott // May 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    It’s looks like the Suns are getting their professional act together, which is nice to see.

    Now if they can translate that to making quality draft picks, player trades, and player development … :)

  • 3 hawki // May 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Brandan Wright, JJ Hickson & Paul Millsap should be viable candidates for free agent pick-ups at the PF position.

    I also wonder if McD would consider bringing back Leandro Barbosa….his speed compliments Dragic nicely in the backcourt.

    McDonough seems to be making all the right moves so far….but the biggest moves lie ahead.

  • 4 Ty-Sun // May 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    I could agree with bringing in Wright or Hickson but Millsap might be too expensive for a rebuilding team like the Suns that want to maintain some cap space. Millsap is also 28 and probably wouldn’t want to be part of a rebuilding team… unless he really believes in Jeff Hornacek as a head coach and wants to play for him. If that was the case then I’d love to have him. One thing I love about him is that he’s never missed more than 6 games in a season. He’s a very strong player with virtually no history of injuries and he’s at his prime right now. But even though I really like him as a player, the Suns can’t afford to overpay him to come to a rebuilding team.

    And as much as I love Barbosa and everything he did for the Suns in the past, trying to bring him back would be a mistake unless they could bring him back on a veteran’s minimum contract. Hands down I would rather have him on the team than Brown but Leandro will turn 31 this November and is game has always relied on his athleticism. At his age, that’s only going to falter going forward.

  • 5 Scott // May 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Wright played well last season … his first season of playing well, so far as I can recall. If he’s looking for a big payday, I wouldn’t give it to him. But seeing as he played so well for Dallas at C (21 PER, IIRC), I can see where they might keep him as a backup PF/C.

    Hickson played well at C for Portland, but wouldn’t he just crowd the paint at PF in Phoenix? It depends on who is playing, I guess. If Frye recovers and Gortat and Scola are out, then Hickson looks better to me.

    As for Barbosa, I think wherever he goes it will be on a veteran minimum contract. While I always liked him, I think the Suns are better off finding young guys who are trying to develop at SG, even if it means taking losses.

    For instance, I’d rather have Seth Curry at SG.

    Of course, I’m operating off the idea that the Suns are going to be big losers again next year, and hopefully winners in next year’s draft.

  • 6 JD // May 29, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    The names Wright, Hickson, and Millsap have been nearly famous in Suns lore.

    Wright was part of the notorious Amare-for-Curry trade that the Warriors reneged on in ’09.

    Hickson was drafted by the Cavs front office while Blanks was assistant GM. Then in ’12 the Suns were reportedly interested in trying to sign Hickson once he cleared waivers after the Kings cut him.

    Millsap was a trade target of the Suns unsuccessful efforts at the ’11 trade deadline.

    It would seem that the Suns need to resolve the fates of Scola, Markieff, Marcus, and Bealsey before going after a free agent PF. All of the above are basically the players they are going to be. I’d rather see the Suns find more rookies or first or second year players who still have potential but have not gotten a chance to show their talent and intensity. (i.e., the next Tobias Harris)

  • 7 Scott // May 29, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    @JD -

    While I agree that Scola and Beasley are who they are, it might be too early to call it on the Morrises.

    If the Suns are doing a great job of restocking the team with young talent, I’m fine with the Morrises being cut or traded. But if the Suns make only modest moves, I’m okay with keeping the twins for another year.

    If the two of them could just resolve their shooting woes, they wouldn’t be so bad. And they’d look a lot better in trade.

  • 8 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    If Beasley really is the player he he can ever be, he may be on a slow boat to China soon.

  • 9 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    If Gortat is out and we don’t draft a “shovel-ready” center (maybe we can consult Obama on who/what is “shovel-ready”), Hickson looks a lot better than Scola or Markieff in the post.

  • 10 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    I think we should just trade Brown to UPS and call it a day.

  • 11 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Millsap is 28 and peaking. We should only take him, if at all, on a bargain, which there is no reason to suspect we will be offered.

  • 12 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    BTW, Utah fans on their blog hate Millsap’s defense. Of course, all he had to do was stand there against us, so any inabilities wouldn’t have been apparent.

  • 13 hawki // May 29, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    My PF free agent pick-ups were based on the assumption that there is going to be a major overhaul to the roster.
    Guys like Wright or Hickson give the Suns some length in the paint as out interior defense last year was horrible.
    I have a feeling the are going to be some major draft day maneuvers.

    Scott, I’ll still take Barbosa over Seth Curry.
    Bill….Beasley has been officially banned in China.

  • 14 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    You could’ve traded Brown to the Nets for a trade exception and installed Blanks as shooting guard. That was the way to get the No. 1 pick.

  • 15 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    @Hawki, did you go to Duke? Curry is a non-athletic, 6’1″ shooting guard. Now I agree, almost anything compares well to Brown’s 27% from 3, but aren’t there some better choices? Curry also averaged I think about 1.3-1.5 assists per game in some 30 minutes or more. He is not a poor man’s McCullom, he is a homeless man’s McCullom.

  • 16 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Well, as long as Beasley has not been “banned in Boston”.

  • 17 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Actually,Curry’s closest comp is probably Andrew Goudelouck (altho’ I believe Goudelouck is probably better), and we didn’t even pick Goudelouck up last year when he was waived by LA. Another much better el cheapo choice would be Travis Leslie.

  • 18 hawki // May 29, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    @ Bill

    Look closely….I said I would take Barbosa over Seth Curry….it is Scott who would take Curry.

  • 19 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    If we feel an uncontrollable urge to draft a Duke player in the 2nd round, I would prefer Ryan Kelly, who could surprise us by turning out to be Ryan Anderson Lite.

  • 20 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    I am going to refer Scott to my optometrist and will refer Curry to my pathologist…J/K.

  • 21 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Sarver: “If it weren’t for this damned union contract, we could get players like Curry for a few dollars more than they pay at Chief Auto Parts.”

  • 22 bill.thomas // May 29, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    I can’t remember now if its Richardson or Barbosa who sticks his U-no-what in places it shouldn’t go. If we bring the culprit back, at least it will take the spotlight off poor Beasley with his stash and his Glock.

  • 23 hawki // May 30, 2013 at 12:01 am

    @ bill

    I agree with you on Ryan Kelly….he could be an option if he lasts until the 57th pick.

    Best trade scenario I’ve seen on the internet:
    Suns trade Gortat & Dudley to OKC for Perkins, Jeremy Lamb & the 12th pick.
    With 12th pick take Dieng, the big kid from Louisvile.

  • 24 bill.thomas // May 30, 2013 at 12:24 am

    @Hawki: That would be great if OKC would do it, but I don’t know if that’s where their head’s at. But Perkins had a neg. PER in the Playoffs–you would think a light bulb would go off at some point.

    If they had Dudley they could also squeeze Martin down on salary and keep both of them.

  • 25 hawki // May 30, 2013 at 12:59 am

    @ bill

    Yeah, I don’t like Perkins either but keeping him for 2 yrs probably guarantees the Suns another high pick in next year’s draft while Dieng, Lamb & whoever we get at # 5 develops.

    Not to worry though, the odds that this trade happens are probably slim & none…..with none in the lead.

  • 26 bill.thomas // May 30, 2013 at 1:29 am

    I def. want Perk at my next BBQ if I’m gonna go BK cuz he’ll clean me out !!!!!!

  • 27 bill.thomas // May 30, 2013 at 2:35 am

    Perk @$9 mil a yr.–that will def. have Sarver smoking Stogies !!!!!

  • 28 bill.thomas // May 30, 2013 at 2:38 am

    I think I would turn Seth Curry into LeBron’s Sissy Maid–I bet he would get to like it !!!!!!!!!!!

  • 29 bill.thomas // May 30, 2013 at 2:44 am

    That brings up a point, we shouldn’t hire any more Sissy Maids like Shannon Brown on this squad on cheap contracts. Its win or get out. No more 27% from shooting guards will be tolerated.

  • 30 bill.thomas // May 30, 2013 at 2:51 am

    I would love to see Seth Curry in high heels with falsies in a Duke jersey–how hot !!!!!!

  • 31 bill.thomas // May 30, 2013 at 2:57 am

    What is Curry’s size in womens’ high heels? I’ll ship a few pair to him.

  • 32 bill.thomas // May 30, 2013 at 3:00 am

    Falsies. Coming back into vogue among male Duke grads.

  • 33 bill.thomas // May 30, 2013 at 3:04 am

    Shannon is really into spandex and high heels..this is getting embarrassing..I mean his wife and all..maybe the Lakers will take him back..but he really is pathetic in his spandex and high heels.

  • 34 bill.thomas // May 30, 2013 at 3:11 am

    Seth Curry should become the Bible-totin pastor of some Christian Skool with a BB program and go from there. Your not needed at the higher level.

  • 35 foreveris2long // May 30, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Hawk I have been singing Gortat to OKC for two years so you know I would applaud that trade. Lamb did very well in the developmental league which only confirms IMO with playing time he will be a baller. I also agree on taking Dieng with the 12th pick.

  • 36 Tim from BC // May 30, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Things are looking promising with the new GM and coach. I think Beasely has to go but I really hope they keep Luis Scola as he has good skills at the post and is a good team player. I think Hickson would be a great addition to the team.

  • 37 foreveris2long // May 30, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Hawk, since we are thinking so much alike here why don’t you just work in my place today. I have no doubt I would do exactly as you would so there would be no compromise.

  • 38 Scott // May 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    @hawki -

    My point about Seth Curry is that I can see a rationale for the Suns rebuilding using no drafted players or free agents over the age of 24. Aim on having a season of development and getting deep into the lottery again next year.

    Now, some fans want the Suns to pursue a different rationale, one of rebuilding through free agency to win next season. If you want to do that, then maybe getting Hickson and putting him at center, and getting Barbosa to play at SG are good ideas.

    Do I think Barbosa is a better player right now than Seth Curry? Yes.

    Do I think Hickson at C could help the Suns win games next season? Yes.

    Do I want to make either of those moves? Not really.

    While I don’t want the Suns to linger in perpetual doldrums (like Charlotte), I like the idea of getting a lot of young talent this year, losing big while playing them, and ending up in the lottery next year. Then, if the Suns have drafted well, in 2014-2015 they’ll be free to ascend back up through the ranks into the playoffs.

    However, if the Suns failed to draft well in this year or the next, or if there have been injuries, there’s still one more year with 2 first round picks (2015) in which the Suns can try to nail down a lineup for the future.

  • 39 john // May 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    @Bill – it was stevie boy who was sticking his you know what where it didn’t belong, not Richardson or Barbosa. Those rumors have long since been proven false.

  • 40 Ty-Sun // May 30, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    As far as free agents go, the Suns’ draft and trade opportunities should determine who they go after in free agency.

    First, the Suns get the best players they can in the draft. Second, they look into every potential trade they can. Third, depending on how those trade opportunities work out, they start looking at the FA market to fill in the holes in their roster. Hopefully they do this with low salary, short term contracts.

    Next season the Suns need to focus on developing young talent. If they get very lucky and some of those young players develop rapidly, then next off-season they could think about going after a “name” free agent. But unless there some unlikely ETOs after next season, the free agent market next year looks much worse than this year so it’s unlikely that they Suns even have a chance to go after a “name” player then.

    The bottom line is that hopefully the Suns have realized that there are no quick fixes and they have to plan for success 2-3 years down the road instead of next season.

  • 41 hawki // May 30, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    @ Scott
    Brandan Wright is 25 yrs old & JJ Hickson is only 24….so I consider that young talent that is as good or better than what I see in this draft……but

    As Ty-Sun points out free-agency probably will depend on who the Suns draft & if there are any upcoming trades that significantly alter the roster…

  • 42 Scott // May 30, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    @Ty-Sun -

    That’s how I see it.

    @hawki -

    I thought Hickson was older than Wright, but you’re right … he’s only 24.

    So those 2 are guys that would fall into consideration as young free agents who could play alongside Dragic and possibly continue to mature and develop their potential. And if they don’t get signed to contracts that are bigger than their abilities (looking at you, Beasley), they’ll be suitable for trade.

  • 43 Ty-Sun // May 30, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Hickson is good but not good enough to jump on early and overpay. If the Suns find a trade partner for Scola – depending on who they get back – Hickson might be a FA target to plug in at PF/C… if he’s not too expensive. He had a very good year with Portland and I’m sure he’s looking to improve on the $4 mil they were paying him last year. Someone may be willing to offer him a contract similar to the one the Suns gave to Beasley last year but I hope it’s not the Suns. Hickson is – IMO – a short term band-aid instead of a long-term solution.

  • 44 Scott // May 30, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    @Ty-Sun -

    If I were in the Suns FO, I’d be very wary of signing bad contracts right now. They need young talent at reasonable prices.

    They’ve got to be more disciplined then they’ve been in the past.

  • 45 foreveris2long // May 30, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    The below quote is about Snell after his very recent Chicago workout,
    ““I think Tony Snell, and I’ve said this to our staff, I think he’s one of the most talented and gifted players in this draft,” said Billy McKinney, Bucks director of scouting after the workout. “(He) played at New Mexico and his performances were up and down. Most young players will have that issue. But in terms of talent, I’ve watched him since he was a freshman and … he is a guy that has been on our radar for quite some time.””

    I have seen both Snell and Oladipo play and continue to believe Snell may have greater upside. Call me crazy but I would be happier with Len or Dieng and Snell than I would with Oladipo and Dieng. Obviously we need a trade though if we are going to get 2 players in the top 20.

  • 46 Scott // May 30, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    @forever -

    More upside? It’s hard for me to say.

    They seem similar in defensive ability and athleticism, though Snell has the edge in size and length.

    Also, Oladipo and Snell basically scored the same amount per game, but the difference you’ll see in the stats is that Snell hit more 3s per game and Oladipo rebounded more.

    I’d probably go with Oladipo over Snell because of his consistent motor, but wherever Snell goes in the draft he should be a better value, as Oladipo appears oversold at #5.

  • 47 foreveris2long // May 31, 2013 at 7:45 am

    The main thing that troubles me with Oladipo is he is undersized for a 2 guard. What impresses me is his motor(love for the game and energy), defense and intellect (graduated in 3 years by carrying 19 units his last semester). I definitely can understand drafting him because he will be a good NBA player. Snell on the other hand because of his size and is a better shooter, will likely have a much better offensive game in the NBA. He will not have any trouble getting his shot off in the NBA. Snell is also a good but not great defender.

  • 48 Scott // May 31, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Is Oladipo so undersized at SG that it counts as a disadvantage?

    He’s 6′ 4″, 213 lbs, with a wingspan of 6′ 9″.

    Dwyane Wade is 6′ 4″, 220 lbs, with a wingspan of 6′ 11″.

    Wade is 1/2″ taller, 7 lbs heavier, and has 2 more inches of wingspan than Oladipo.

    Eric Gordon is 6′ 3″, 222 lbs, with a wingspan of 6′ 9″. So he’s an inch shorter, 9 lbs heavier, and has the same wingspan.

    I think Oladipo can make it in the NBA at his size. I don’t think he can play SF, though, which is one reason teams like bigger SGs: versatility.

  • 49 Forever is2long // May 31, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Scott, I have no doubt Oladipo will make it, which is why I said above he will be a good NBA player.

  • 50 Scott // May 31, 2013 at 9:50 am

    ^^ I know, but where is the disadvantage, except that he lacks the versatility to play SF?

  • 51 Forever is2long // May 31, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Scott I am just saying IMO there are others in this draft with more upside no matter what position they play. If McD is true to his word he is going to draft the best player available so only time will tell who he thinks that person is. If that is Oladipo so be it.

  • 52 bill.thomas // Jun 1, 2013 at 12:53 am

    In any case, Shannon Brown is my primary delivery guy at my next pizza franchise. Excels at getting to the bucket !!!!!!!!

Leave a Comment