Phoenix Suns: Once Upon a Timeline

Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, Tyler Ulis Phoenix Suns (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, Tyler Ulis Phoenix Suns (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

James Jones and the Phoenix Suns made multiple moves this past off season that essentially killed The Timeline. It is time to make one more move and create The Timeline 2.0.

There was a time not too long ago in which the Phoenix Suns fan base embraced GM Ryan McDonough’s idea of “#TheTimeline”. The phrase was part of our daily vocabulary as we held on to the idea that losing will create winning. We grasped at hope, at purpose, and at direction. Similar to Philadelphia’s “The Process”, it was the idea that the young talent we were drafting would someday morph the franchise into a successful and winning team kept us engaged with mediocrity.

Ryan McDonough, who became the General Manager of the Suns on May 7, 2013, began building the franchise immediately in the 2013 NBA Draft. These would be the building blocks of hope. These assets would set the course for a brighter future.

In his tenure as GM, here are the results of his drafts:

In Ryan McDonough’s tenure, the Suns had a number 1 pick, two number 4 picks, and a number 5 pick. Names such as CJ McCollum and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2013), Buddy Hield and Pascal Siakam (2016), De’Aaron Fox and Donovan Mitchell (2017), and Luka Doncic (2018) were passed up. Perhaps some didn’t “fit the system”, but all would’ve been better selections than who the Phoenix took.

Following his efforts to rebuild the franchise, McDonough was relieved of his duties effective October 8, 2018.

“The Timeline” phrase is no longer referenced when you talk about the Phoenix Suns. I haven’t heard it referenced in quite some time. The plan Ryan McDonough sold us ultimately failed. Look around the NBA and the other teams who drafted around us during those years. The Kings. The Grizzlies. The Mavs. Look at the talent they acquired and developed. Now look inward. Are you happy with what The Timeline produced?

James Jones was not.  In his first year as the new General Manager, he strapped some dynamite to “The Timeline” bus, lit the fuse, and effectively blew it up. Alex Len? Gone. T.J. Warren? Gone. Josh Jackson? Gone. The only remaining pieces were Devin Booker and three picks from the 2018 NBA Draft. And the Suns are better for it.

It is time to officially retire The Timeline. It is time to put McDonough’s vision in the rear view mirror. You can’t change his debacle. You can learn from it. You can set new goals and new expectations. You can grow.

It is now time for James Jones to allow a new Timeline to rise from the ashes, much like a Phoenix does. His timeline, however, should not be a promise of draft picks and development. His timeline, The Timeline 2.0, should be a promise of stars and success. And perhaps sustained success.

The trade deadline is rapidly approaching, as is the opportunity to reset The Timeline with the acquisition of a star. Jones can shake the foundation of the franchise by adding the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns. He can provide promise with the addition of Julius Randle.  He can give us hope with a Danilo Gallinari or Andre Drummond transaction.

Something, anything, needs to be done. A move needs to be made to move forward, rather than add another year of frustration to a losing fan base and the psyche of Devin Booker.

The Timeline 2.0 can be a promise to the fans of Phoenix that they are looking to bring stars to the Valley of the Sun, not draft picks. That they are looking to bring playoff success, not teenagers. That they are looking to bring winning to the desert, not losing.

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Make no mistake about it, Phoenix is a basketball town. My hope is we are soon talking about The Timeline 2.0 as the countdown to a championship. Let the countdown begin.