Timing of McDonough’s firing is absolutely fishy

Phoenix Suns Ryan McDonough (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Ryan McDonough (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns are nine days away from the start of their 51st regular season…and without warning, nor public provocation, Owner Robert Sarver has fired his General Manager. Something smells fishy.

There is a good chance that I am in the minority about Ryan McDonough’s tenure as the Phoenix Suns’ General Manager, in that I believe he actually did a good job – all things considered.

His drafting went about as well as one can. He never made a trade that ended up being an absolute flop against the Suns (Brandon Knight‘s trader would not have been a total flop had he stayed healthy, something that was entirely out of McDonough’s control). The tank-and-rebuild was a unified plan between he and Robert Sarver, so much so that McDonough was given a contract extension just last offseason.

McDonough was also never in trouble. He never said anything publicly off-colored. He was never arrested.

Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he was fired.

After having been at practice the day before seemingly in control of the roster and the situation at hand.

There is something fishy here.

Maybe Sarver was tired of the losing. Who isn’t? But wasn’t losing their plan all along?

Let’s think about this: Because of the tank, the Suns are in wonderful cap shape. They have only four contracts on the books of over $10 a year this season. T.J. Warren‘s is the first year of a veteran contract extension and is an absolute steal for the offensive production he can put up.

Tyson Chandler is in the final year of his contract and is not only off the books this coming summer, but also the easiest contract (besides Devin Booker‘s) to move should they want to clear that space early.

Trevor Ariza is on the books for only this season and will be cleared in 2019.

Ryan Anderson‘s is on the books for this year and next, but because he restructured his deal, it is actually a very manageable and tradable contract beginning about midway through this season.

Much like the Oklahoma City Thunder of the late 2000s, Phoenix now has at least two young star players on the roster in Booker and Deandre Ayton, with Josh Jackson the potential starting version of James Harden in the OKC Big-Three.

Yes, it seems  that the hiring of Mike Budenholzer went awry after it seemed that he was going to be Phoenix’s next head coach, but nobody  at the time blamed McDonough for that as it was reported that it was the second meeting Bud had with the Suns was with Sarver and that was when the talks seemed to stall.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

Then the hiring of Igor Kokoskov, a former Phoenix Suns assistant coach who wanted to return, was met with almost universal applause by the fan base as his relationship with the team and his expected offensive and defensive mindsets seem to be a perfect match for not only the roster as it is constructed, but also the DNA of the Phoenix Suns as a franchise: run-and-gun.

Sure the Suns do not have a starting caliber point guard, but let’s also look at it from this perspective: the Suns neither over paid for nor have an overpaid point guard who took needed assets away from the franchise hampering their ability to make moves in the future.

Yes, we all expected that the Suns were going to trade for a point guard this offseason, anyone who looked through a crystal ball at the onset of the offseason would have seen such a prediction coming true.

But it’s not like they overpaid in terms of young assets to acquire a middle-of-the-road point guard like Kemba Walker who is going to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and will be paid way  more than his production would assume, nor did they acquire someone like Goran Dragic who’s return would be a nice story, but who is on the backslide of his prime and way overpaid  for the next two seasons hurting the team’s ability to make a move in either trade or free agency this offseason.

All of this leads up to the moment that it was announced that McDonough was fired, and the question of “why?”  that surrounds the announcement considering that the draft, the offseason, and training camp have all concluded, the preseason is over halfway through, and the regular season is barely a week from commencing.

In his statement, Sarver claimed that he had put “much thought” into this move.

If this is so, then it means only one thing: he was indecisive early in the offseason when he should have made the move and rather than going the conservative route and staying the course until there was an absolute line in the sand that could not be crossed that was, and instead went the emotional route and decided to make a move after it is far  to late to change the plot of the previous course.

Unless McDonough did something so  egregious last night that warranted a firing (something that would be impossible to keep secret forever), I do not care if McDonough cursed Sarver out calling him a “tight-wadded cotton-headed ninnymuggins,” Sarver should have been the bigger man, stayed honorable to himself and the franchise, and allowed time to heal the wounds.

The timing of this firing just does not make sense.

Something fishy is going on whether it being that there was a big occurance that happened that we as the public are not privy to, or that Sarver is so out of touch with the team that rather than making moves in a timely manner, he comes to gut-check decisions who’s repercussions who’s ripple in time will have far-reaching and unexpected results – like the lateness of firing Earl Watson.

And as such, suddenly the optimism and positivity that had begun to surround the franchise since Phoenix won the lottery back in May, has quickly begun to disperse replaced by the haze of this firing descends upon the Valley.

Rarely does something so shocking and out of the blue, a move so questionable that even those who agree with it question it’s logic, lead to a positive end.

It happens, sure, I don’t want to deny that. But it isn’t everyday that the firing of a major player in a franchise days before the start of a regular season means that a team who was likely to be middling suddenly become a force in the league.

One most hope though that as illogical as this move might be in it’s timing, that the shock actually does wake a sleeping giant somewhere within the bowls of the Phoenix Suns’ arena, and return a once proud franchise to it’s former respected glory.

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Unfortunately though, what is more likely is that nothing will change from what destiny had in store for this franchise this season, and that at some point in the near future the sudden whim of change will once again sweep through Sarver’s mind leading to a subsequent move that is wholly unexpected and entirely shocking to all observers.

Therefore, if James Jones is to be the next General Manager of the Phoenix Suns, unfortunately the clock is already ticking on his tenure, and unlike other new hires around the professional sports world, the tick tock of Jones’ professional clock is already as audible as the groans of the fanbase when the Phoenix Suns lose another game in blowout fashion.