Notes: Suns fill front office roles, work out point guards

The Suns announced the roster of their new-look front office on Thursday. General manager Ryan McDonough added some veteran leadership to his front office, another youthful right-hand man and men from a wealth of different backgrounds. Here are a few quick hits on each new addition.

Pat Connelly, assistant general manager: Connelly spent the last seven years working for the Washington Wizards and was most recently the director of player personnel. He has international experience and like the 33-year-old McDonough is relatively young having earned his undergraduate degree from Mount St. Mary’s in 2002. Connelly’s brother, Tim, was formerly the director of player personnel with the Wizards but handed the spot to his brother as he left to take an assistant GM position with New Orleans.

Trevor Bukstein, assistant general manager: The 31-year-old has spent the last three years working under president of basketball operations Lon Babby as the director of basketball administration. His expertise lies in knowledge of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, cap rules and the business number crunching side of things. Like Babby, Bukstein has a sports law background with an undergrad from Michigan and a law degree from Georgetown.

Ronnie Lester, scout: The addition of Lester as a scout gives McDonough a good amount of credibility. Lester was the assistant general manager of the Lakers for 10 of its most successful seasons and is a former NBA player. His eye for talent will give McDonough the ability to oversee the bigger picture and should take some of the pure talent evaluating duties off the GM’s plate.

Emilio Kovacic, international scouting consultant: A 45-year-old Croatian, Kovacic might be the most interesting addition to the team. He is the European general manager of Synergy Sports Technology, a scouting service used by NBA teams and bloggers alike. Kovacic played for the Suns summer league in 1992 and also played at Grand Canyon University under then-coach Paul Westphal. He played professional for 20 years overseas.

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John Treloar has remained in his director of player personnel position. Scouts John Shumate and Bubba Burrage will be retained by McDonough’s new front office as well.

Suns work out point guards

PHOENIX — The Suns worked out some of the draft’s top point guards on Thursday. Trey Burke worked out by his lonesome as the top prospect in the group, but Michael Carter-Williams of Syracuse and LeHigh’s C.J. McCollum led the list of players who competed with one another. They were joined by Miami point guard Shane Larkin and Iowa State point Korie Lucious.

Joining the point guards were French big man Mouhammadou Jaiteh and Akron center Zeke Marshall. Jaiteh could be an interesting option with the Suns’ 30th pick, and Marshall would be a developmental prospect to take 57th.

From the sound of it, the one thing the Suns are doing more than other teams might would be testing players’ conditioning.

McCollum had worked out with Orlando and Philadelphia so far. He and Carter-Williams — workout buddies leading into these preparations — are headed to Sacramento next but both mentioned that Phoenix did a good amount of doing pure conditioning drills toward the end of the workout.

And although it’s hard to take much from the draft workout interviews, but the Suns getting a jump on the competition is again good news. Like the GM search and coaching search, timing is everything. Now, Phoenix has seen most of the top overall prospects save for those injured and swingman Otto Porter.

That gives Phoenix time to evaluate what it saw and get first dibs on inviting players back for second looks.

Tags: 2013 NBA Draft

  • Scott

    Do conditioning drills really say anything about the player, except their condition at this moment? I mean, mightn’t we assume players will be better conditioned a year or two into playing in the NBA than they are now?

    As for MCW, I still see him as a SG prospect, though he seems a bit slow on the attack in the video I’ve seen of him recently.

  • DBreezy

    Conditioning drills are good way to test how much/hard a player has been working to prepare for what is now a job. It’s one thing to say all the cliche things about it in interviews, but the drills are the proof. It’s like an old boss I had who used to ask applicants if they followed all of the rules like motor vehicle laws. Most people said yes and later in the interview they would be asked how long the drive to what was a rural interview location took. They often busted themselves with answer that clearly showed they exceeded the speed limit.

    They also are a good test of a player’s fight. You can put VO and Bazz up against each other and get an idea as you tire them out, but what about guys like BMac and Burke who’s agents demand individual workouts? It’s not easy to see what they do when they’re frustrated. Do they keep fighting even if they’re missing shots or fatigued, or do they back off. As these guys do more and more workouts, they’re going to have some workout duds from all of the fatigue. That’s a great time to push them with conditioning stuff and see what they do. Does a guy like B-Mac settle for jumpers even though he’s only being guarded by an assistant coach type? Does a guy like Bazz stick with his new jump shot form and/or still show a willingness to drive right and so on.

  • Scott

    Okay, that last point is a good one. You want to see how much fight a player naturally has.

    As for the former … it’s probably more for weeding out players in the lower echelons, I suppose. You don’t want lazy or “entitled” players on the team.

    Guys like Oladipo and Zeller should shine.

  • DBreezy

    “Okay, that last point is a good one.”

    Listen, if he blasts here in the cabin and the fuselage doesn’t give way here and the main communication lines to the cockpit hold here and this baby here doesn’t jam up this unit here and throw about two tons of steel through here, like a hot knife through butter, and the upper and lower– what’s your point, sarge? :)

  • Scott

    @DBreezy -

    Is that a quote from something? (“I’ll take Popular Culture for 100, Alex.”)

  • hawki

    Airplane II….The Sequel…..DBreezy knows something about flying

    Better than last year when one of the Morris twins was overheard saying “Is that why you slapped my brother around in public?”

    ps….I’d rather the Suns take Burke at 5 than Len.

  • bill.thomas

    That would have been fun to have Jimmer in conditioning drills a couple of years ago–maybe against Michael Redd !!!

  • Scott

    I’m wondering if Len will go #1.

    (I had to look up that quote from Markieff. Never saw either movie.)

  • bill.thomas

    Witnesses would tell the police that the actual robber seemed disjointed, wasn’t sure where he should be standing or wanted to be moving, gapped his attention span once or twice and needed to work on his footwork–but looked like he had an awful lot of untapped potential.

    The guy with the two handguns was kind of herky-jerky and they were afraid he would go off with multiple blasts at any moment, then disappear.

    The guy with the streetsweeper looked like he was adrift on a pink cloud.

  • hawki

    You never saw “The Godfather” ?

  • bill.thomas

    I was thinking of it as “Heat II”–a great ensemble cast. Made for the T-Mob generation. Cameos by Charles and D Wade.

  • bill.thomas

    The way I look at it, this whole Suns conundrum is a very solvable problem. After all, we’re really only missing five things: defense, rebounding, scoring, teamwork, and talent.

  • foreveris2long

    Hawk, You know I love T.Burke’s game and would take him or Len over Oladipo who I also like. Coro has a good article out today maybe yesterday talking about the Suns like the Warriors could play a two guard set with Dragic and another point guard. Burke is the only guy in this draft who I see as a future allstar. There probably will be others but Burke seems to have the whole package. When you see the success Tony Parker and even Curry had in the playoffs why not get someone 20 years old with slick handles and a nice pullup? There are likely better wings in the draft next summer.

    McD and I are going to get along just fine because I love how he thinks. We sucked last year and need help everywhere. Dragic could easily play the two guard if we went that route as he is a poor man Ginobli anyway.

  • Scott

    @hawki -

    Never saw any of the Godfather films, Airplane / Snakes on a Plane, the Exorcist, Scarface, Apocalypse Now, and so on.

    I have seen some movies here and there, but I don’t watch DVDs, and I’m not really a movie quotes guy.

  • foreveris2long

    The Suns worked out a couple more point guards today probably for a second round pick.

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