As Mizell details, two years to the day before Jones won the award, he had his first draft as full-fledged team GM, selecting Cameron Johnson on June 20, 2019.
“[When] I was first drafted here, it was like, ‘Oh man, this team is terrible. I was a terrible pick. This team was destined for failure.’” Johnson reflected. “Then to get to this point now, going into the Western Conference Finals … (it) shows the trust and the faith and the confidence we have in one another.”
“He’s a big reason why we’re having the success, because of the team that he’s put together and the character of the players and the talent that he’s assembled,” head coach Monty Williams (a Jones hire) said of the man his NBA colleagues used to nickname “Champ.” “Just happy for him. He’s changed this thing in a short period of time.”
Among his more impactful moves for the 2020/21 season, Jones traded for All-Star point guard Chris Paul, signed starting power forward Jae Crowder, and traded for reserve swingman Torrey Craig. The Suns finished the abbreviated 2020/21 season with a 51-21 record, good for the second seed in the Western Conference.
There’s more out of the Pacific Division:
- Though Suns point guard Chris Paul will miss at least the first two games of Phoenix’s Western Conference Finals matchup against the Clippers, the 11-time All-Star has managed to remain a vocal figure even from a distance, writes Mark Medina of USA Today. “We put him on FaceTime,” All-Star Suns shooting guard Devin Booker said. “We lean on him for a lot, and we know how disappointed he is and frustrated he couldn’t be out here for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, especially knowing his past history around this time. But we know we had him all the way through. We brought him in the locker room. We had him in our after-game huddle. So he’s proud of us.” Paul continues to grapple with the NBA’s coronavirus-related health and safety protocols and will miss Game 2 of the series on Tuesday.
- Clippers forward Marcus Morris suffered a knee injury during the first half of the Clippers’ 120-114 Game 1 loss to the Suns on Sunday. Though Morris is not on the club’s official injury report ahead of Game 2 yet, L.A. coach Tyronn Lue said that he was unsure whether Morris would suit on Tuesday, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
- After Sixers All-Star point guard Ben Simmons underwhelmed in his club’s seven-game second-round series loss to the Hawks, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area wonders if the Kings should consider trying to trade for the All-Defensive First-Teamer. Ham notes that Simmons will not come cheap, as the 24-year-old just completed the first season of the five-year, maximum-salary extension he signed with the team in the 2019 offseason. Though Ham asserts that Sacramento would not part with young guards De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton, he thinks that Simmons, though not a perfect match due to his flaws as a shooter, could be worth a look.