The Phoenix Suns fired general manager Ryan McDonough one week before the start of the season. Now, they have a big job to offer.
Below are the top rumored candidates, and some of our own, who we believe could realistically accept a call from team owner Robert Sarver to take over the front office.
James Jones, Phoenix Suns Interim GM
The former NBA player has reportedly “become a favorite” of team owner Robert Sarver. Former Phoenix forward Jared Dudley has called Jones a “perfect fit” for the job. The executive reportedly played a crucial role in recently hiring head coach Igor Kokoskov. He is generally beloved by his former teammates and currently serves as the interim general manager for the Suns.
If the organization decides to hire internally, look for Jones to be the choice. While former assistant GM Trevor Bukstein is also helping handle the day-to-day operations, Jones seems more destined for such a position.
David Griffin, NBA TV Analyst
The home run hire for Phoenix would be former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin. He is originally from Phoenix and went to Arizona State University. Griffin worked for the Suns for 17 years, including time as the vice president of basketball operations for the franchise.
If he were interested in the position, the ownership group certainly knows how to get in touch with him. Griffin is one of the hottest names in the front office market, however, so he would have to be some desire for him to work with a roster currently paying Devin Booker a max contract.
But he’d be handed the keys to the castle with a ton of young talent on their roster, including Booker.
Kevin McHale, NBA on TNT Analyst
Three-time NBA champion Kevin McHale has been the coach of the Houston Rockets and the Minnesota Timberwolves. He currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and works as an analyst on television for both NBA TV and NBA on TNT.
While his name was floated by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski as an early name to watch for the Suns, it seems bizarre they would hire the 60-year-old in a front office role given he has been away from the game since 2015. The choice does not seem to be a fit for either side.
Troy Weaver, Oklahoma City Thunder Assistant GM
Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti has spoken highly of his front office colleague (via NewsOK.com):
“Obviously at some point, he’s gonna have the opportunity to move on and be a general manager, and I think he’ll be great when that time comes. But we’ve also been incredibly blessed that he feels so passionate about the Thunder and our mission and our vision here.”
Weaver, an assistant to Presti, has been in consideration for several jobs in the past – including the opening for the Phoenix gig back in 2013.
Tommy Sheppard, Washington Wizards Assistant GM
Washington Wizards executive Tommy Sheppard is someone who the organization nearly hired as their general manager in 2010.
Kevin Arnovitz wrote about why he will be in high demand for a front office position like this opening in Phoenix (via ESPN):
“Long before sports scientists invaded NBA training facilities, Sheppard was one of the first front-office execs to canvass the globe for new ideas to improve performance … Given the breadth of the job these days, finding candidates who are well-rounded generalists isn’t easy. That’s why many league execs feel Sheppard will get snatched up at some point to lead a front office.”
Sheppard could be an interesting choice if the Wizards grant him permission for an interview.
Trajan Langdon, Brooklyn Nets Assistant GM
The former first-round pick was in serious consideration to become the general manger of the Detroit Pistons earlier this offseason.
He was also among the candidates when the Atlanta Hawks were searching for their general manager in 2017. Trajan Langdon is close friends with former Phoenix star Grant Hill, who would likely have a high endorsement of his fellow Duke alum.
Ronnie Lester, Phoenix Suns Scout (2013-15)
Ronnie Lester, who has served as a scout for the Suns from 2013 until 2015, is a sleeper fit for the job. He won an NBA title playing for the Chicago Bulls and six titles as the assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Lester played for former University of Arizona head coach Lute Olson as a college basketball player for the University of Iowa. Olson, it’s worth noting, is a “longtime friend” of Sarver’s and helped encourage him to buy the Suns in 2004.
The former NBA player was in consideration for the vacant general manager position when the job was available in 2010. He was mentioned as a potential pick for the Sacramento Kings when their gig was available last year. But it’d be a major surprise for him to get a job of this stature despite his availability.
David Morway, Utah Jazz Consultant
The University of Arizona alumnus would be an interesting hire for the Suns. He currently works in the front office for the Utah Jazz. Morway has been the general manager for the Indiana Pacers from 2008 until 2012. He was also in the front office as the assistant general manager for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Morway was in consideration for the position in 2013 before they eventually decided on McDonough. His collegiate background at Arizona gives him the crucial tie to the ownership and to the state.