PHOENIX (AP) The Phoenix Suns fired general manager Ryan McDonough on Monday, nine days before their season begins.
James Jones and Trevor Bukstein will share the GM duties on an interim basis for the Suns. Jones is the team’s vice president of basketball operations and Bukstein was assistant GM under McDonough, who had been in Phoenix since 2013 and was under contract through 2020.
Suns owner Robert Sarver said in a statement announcing the firing that he made the decision ”after much thought and a long evaluation of our basketball operations.”
”There’s no perfect time to make a change,” Sarver said in an interview on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM radio. ”For me it’s just about making consistent progress and with any leader it’s an ongoing evaluation process. And, ultimately, I just decided we needed to make a change.”
The Suns took Deandre Ayton with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft and gave Devin Booker a $158 million extension during the offseason.
Phoenix has had four straight losing seasons and no playoff berth since 2010. Last year’s 21-61 record was the worst in the NBA and second-worst in franchise history.
Sarver said he’d been looking at the last five years, ”more recently the last six months,” in an ongoing evaluation of McDonough.
”It culminated when we were heading into the summer,” Sarver said. ”We discussed a number of opportunities I felt were realistic in terms of what progress would look like. And ultimately to me the rate of progress wasn’t there where I thought it needed to be.”
With the addition of Ayton and some other offseason moves, McDonough said at the team’s media day that those losing days were over and the goal was to make the Suns ”the most improved team” in the NBA. But the team has been unsuccessful in acquiring a proven point guard to supplement its otherwise improved lineup.
McDonough and Sarver oversaw the hiring of Igor Kokoskov as coach in the offseason.
The Suns won 48 games in McDonough’s first season on the job, Phoenix’s last winning season, but they just missed the playoffs. Things went downhill with a successive of bad seasons, culminating with 23, 24 and 21 wins each of the past three years.
Phoenix hit it big with the drafting of Booker 13th overall in 2015, but other draft results were sporadic.
That could well change with Ayton, the Suns’ first No. 1 overall pick.
The Suns hired McDonough after three seasons as assistant general manager of the Boston Celtics. He is the son of the late Boston Globe columnist Will McDonough. His brother Sean is a sports broadcaster and brother Terry is vice president/player personnel of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.
The NBA season begins a week from Tuesday. The Suns’ first game is Wednesday, Oct. 17, when they host the Dallas Mavericks.
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