Here’s how James Jones has built what should be a playoff Phoenix Suns, team
James Jones played with the Miami Heat for six years,14 years total in the NBA before eventually becoming the general manager of the Phoenix Suns.
Jones came from an environment in Miami where they played positionless basketball that focused on defense, shooting and had the mindset that picking up quality veterans was the most important part of creating a successful team.
Jones has stated that Heat executive Pat Riley was the one person that pushed him into management after his playing career was done and having LeBron James on the same teams with him for six years probably didn’t hurt his executive maturation process.
The average age for an NBA Championship team is 28.4 years old. ESPN contributor Mark Haubner pointed out that “Effective age” measures a team’s average age by including minutes played with the average of the players on a roster”.
Haubner pointed out that in the back-to-back championships of the Lebron led Heat era, the 2011-2012 Heat championship team had an average age of 28.3 years and that the 2012-213 team averaged 30.3 years of age. Each of those teams only had 1 player in their top 12 players under the age of 25, it was the same player each season — 23-year-old point guard Norris Cole.
The Phoenix Suns opening night team last season was 24.4 years of age, they were the youngest team in the NBA with six of their top 12 players under 25. It is my hope and I am certain it is James Jones’ hope that average age will go up moving forward.
To start this remodel of the Suns that would fit Jones’ vision, I knew that he wasn’t going to do this project by simply throwing on a coat of paint or rearranging the deck chairs. He had to gut the house that Ryan McDonough and Robert Sarver had destroyed over the previous five seasons.
Phoenix Suns rebuild: James Jones started by gutting the house
Jones started this project in October of 2018 with addition by subtraction by waiving forward Darrell Authur, Shaq Harrison, Devon Reed, and Isaiah Canaan opting to sign prolific shooter Jamal Crawford who could play both guard positions making those three guards obsolete.
He continued gutting the Phoenix Suns down to the foundation by buying out Tyson Chandler and letting him walk away to the Lakers and getting nothing for him in return. Jackson then pulled off his biggest deal to date by dumping the $15 million Trevor Ariza, for a pretty good player named Kelly Oubre, Jr. and salary filler Austin Rivers who would be bought out as well.
It soon became clear that part of James Jones’ philosophy was to obtain young players with upside that are somewhere in the last couple of years of their contract so that the team could get a long look at them before investing them into the Suns future.
Before Oubre was obtained, Jones had a deal with the Grizzlies for combo wing Dillon Brooks who was averaging 7.6 points a game that year but then upping that 16.2 points per game in this recently finished Bubble season. However, the 3-team deal with Memphis and Washington fell apart allowing Jones to land Kelly Oubre Jr. of the Washington Wizards.
This philosophy is further illustrated by the Phoenix Suns trying to obtain Pistons shooting guard Luke Kennard and Nuggets power forward Jerami Grant at the last February trade deadline.