Jones' detractors concede he has fulfilled his role as …

3 years ago via ESPN
Jones’ detractors concede he has fulfilled his role as front-office emissary to the locker room, where players genuinely respect him and have responded to his counsel. But many of those who have observed Jones say that, on his best days, he functions more like a consultant or junior exec in charge of player programs, and less like a commanding general manager, which is his current title.

More on Phoenix Suns Turmoil?

One longtime former player remembers the owner barging into the locker room following a loss to officiously instruct big men on how to set better screens. A former assistant coach was floored when Sarver confronted his boss on the way from the court to the coaches' office immediately after the buzzer to berate him on his substitution patterns. Another former coach was taken aback when Sarver marched into the head coach's office at halftime and insisted the team run a trap at an opposing point guard who had abused the Suns' defense.
FOUR YEARS AFTER naming McDonough general manager, Sarver acquired some live goats from a Diana Taurasi event at Talking Stick Resort Arena and planted them upstairs in McDonough's office. The stunt was both a practical joke and an inspirational message -- the Suns should find a GOAT of their own, one who dominates like Taurasi. The goats, unaware of their metaphorical connotation, proceeded to defecate all over McDonough's office.
But just as troubling as invading the work spaces of his players and coaches, say those who have worked for Sarver, is his meddling in personnel decisions. An individual who has worked in the Suns' front office says Sarver, in his best moments, poses challenging questions that can help frame a conversation. But often, process can get derailed by impulse.
McDonough was regarded as less capable at communication, people skills and fostering relationships with players. There's a strong sense that McDonough, in a characterization that was made by several sources, prioritized job security ahead of personal conviction. Though Sarver had a tendency to meddle, sources say McDonough's struggles to forcefully make his case on strategy and personnel matters demonstrated his ultimate failing as a GM: an inability to manage an owner.
"There's a perception of what a GM is and what a GM does, that you have to log the hours and open up the laptop. I've never purported to be that guy," Jones says. "I think it would diminish what Trevor does. He's a star when it comes to the cap, scenario planning, contracts and negotiations. And he's been really good the whole time he's been here. We have different responsibilities. My primary focus has been to manage and improve the performance and relationships within our different units: our coaching, performance team, development. The players -- that has been my focus."
Jones is universally regarded as bright, but there's a collective sense that he lacks the curiosity or hunger that a relative novice in such a position should display. Former players such as Elton Brand, Malik Rose and Sean Marks throw themselves into every facet of basketball operations, from the G League to cap strategy. In contrast, sources say, Jones seems content to defer to Bukstein. Jones also relies a great deal on another young front-office associate who was initially hired as a liaison between former coach Earl Watson's staff and the analytics department, but has less than two seasons' experience in the NBA. Sources say that much of the Suns' front office finds this confounding.
Duane Rankin: "We don't deserve an all-star break. We need to work on our game as players. I know me, I'm going to be at all-star weekend, but right after that, I've got to touch a basketball and still polish up on things. I hope that everybody has that same mindset." #Suns Devin Booker
Gina Mizell: I asked Kokoskov about the closed-door meeting after Denver loss: “It’s a healthy, good thing...we call ourselves ‘family,’ and a family’s got moments where you have to close the doors and discuss some things. Trust me, there’s no drama. There’s no story behind it.” #Suns
The Suns extended what is usually a 10-minute cooling off period to almost an hour talking about, well, they didn’t reveal what they discussed. “We’re just going to keep everything in-house,” Suns 18-year veteran Jamal Crawford said in a calm, relaxed voice. “We had a nice talk. That’s it.” The locker room was initially opened after the 10-minute cooling off period, but the media was asked to go back outside. Another 40 minutes went by before it was open again. Hmmm.
So when asked what led to the postgame meeting, Devin Booker looked up and said: “What meeting.” Really Devin? “I just showered,” Booker said. Wasn’t that a longer cooling off period than normal, though? “I like long showers,” Booker said with a grin.
That led to Ayton talking about being an “emotional guy,” which showed itself when he and Booker, who is out with a hamstring injury, exchanged words with the media present in the locker room following the 10-minute cooling off period. While they didn't scream at each other, Booker and Ayton clearly were at odds.
“I start to feel stuff,” Ayton said. “When I don’t sense it, that the energy is not there, that’s when you start to hear my mouth. I don’t care who it is. Nineteen-year vet or 15 years, it doesn’t matter. We all have a job to do and I have to step it up a little more, too. Just show more. Even if I think I’m showing more, just show extra. Exaggerate it a little bit just to make it spread. Make it vocal. Make everybody see it.”
Phoenix’s top two players, Booker and Ayton, exchanged words after the 10-minute cooling off period as members of the media entered the visiting locker room for the tail end of that conversation. These two have had words before on the court, with Booker correcting Ayton on what to do on certain plays. Both have agreed to hold players accountable, but this felt different. “I’m an emotional guy, too,” Ayton said. “I start to feel stuff. When I don’t sense it and the energy is not there, that’s when you start to hear my mouth. I don’t care who it is. Nineteen-year vet or 15 years, it don’t matter. We all have a job to do and I have to step it up a little more, too.”
From Jamal Crawford, one of the more positive players in the NBA, slamming the ball on the floor at the end of the third quarter to the friction on the bench between Bridges and Kokoskov, the frustration was apparent. “How long have you been around basketball,” Suns veteran Trevor Ariza asked a reporter in a calm voice when asked what the conversations are like on the bench when trailing by 25 after the first quarter. “So what do you think the conversation would be like after that? “Probably not very positive." Ariza laughed. “Exactly,” he said. “Not too happy, but again, that’s on us for not playing hard.”
Being 4-21 can bring out the worst in a team and Kokoskov, a first-year NBA head coach, has the challenge of trying to keep the Suns together just as all seems lost right now for an franchise having its worst start ever. “At this point, we’ve got to just look in the mirror,” Suns reserve center Richaun Holmes said. “We’ve got to change something.”
Booker isn’t certain how to make this happen, but he knows the Suns need to establish the type of closeness that allows them to get on each other. “All good teams have that trust and chemistry where you’re able to get on each other and know it’s for a better purpose,” Booker said. “I don’t think we have that right now. We’re not comfortable with each other. Step on each other’s toes. We don’t push each other. I think that’s what we need to do.”
Scott Bordow: News: Suns are saying Chriss isn't suspended per se but won't be at Sunday's game. They're describing it as a cooling off period. Chriss was not at practice today. Both McDonough and Triano told me thy're handling it "in house."
Storyline: Phoenix Suns Turmoil?
More HoopsHype Rumors
June 28, 2022 | 5:31 pm EDT Update
Matthew Tynan: Spurs have announced their Summer League roster. Joshua Primo, Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley will all be in Las Vegas.

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that guard James Bouknight underwent successful surgery yesterday to repair a tendon in his fifth digit on his right hand. The surgery was performed by Dr. Brandon Valentine at Novant Health Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital in consultation with Hornets team physician Dr. Marcus Cook. Bouknight will not participate in the 2022 NBA Summer League.
Marc Stein: Yet I can unreservedly say that this old newspaper nerd is absolutely entranced by this platform and all of its possibilities … as much as I miss the honor of seeing my words printed on the NYT’s pages. I can honestly say, with gratitude and relief, that I thought I would miss the printed word more. It doesn’t torment me nearly as much as I anticipated when I see a Times rack and know that there is a zero percent chance that I have a story on those pages. I’m too busy trying to map out what to write next and when to print it to best connect with my loyal (and patient) readers, whose faith and support make it possible for me to cover the league as an independent journalist. All the costs attached to proprietary reporting — like travel, health care, etc. — fall almost fully on me now, so the assistance is vital in helping me produce the best possible content.
June 28, 2022 | 5:12 pm EDT Update