James Jones

Pacific Notes: Chandler, Lakers, Williams, Jones

The free agent signing of Tyson Chandler paid dividends for the Lakers on Wednesday against the Timberwolves, with Chandler grabbing eight rebounds in 23 minutes — including a clutch offensive rebound to help seal the team’s 114-110 win.

“We needed the help now,” coach Luke Walton said postgame, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “And I don’t know how that all works but give [general manager] Rob [Pelinka] and [president] Magic [Johnson] credit for recognizing that and going out and getting that job done for our squad.”

Chandler reached a buyout agreement with the Suns last week, and the Los Angeles native joined the Lakers just in time for their game Wednesday. Chandler, an 18-year veteran who won a title with Dallas in 2011, provides the team with a locker room presence and ability to play center off the bench.

“I love this city the way they love me,” Chandler said when asked about the standing ovation L.A. fans gave him. “When you’re homegrown from here, go to high school and all of that, and you have these same fans that have been watching [your career] and now you represent the jersey that everyone has been cheering for their entire lives, you kind of become one.

“I’ve been on the other side and played the villain. Now it’s great to be on this side and actually rep ’em.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • A panel of ESPN writers voiced their opinions about what’s wrong with the Lakers (article link), with Kevin Arnovitz, Chris Herring and Tim Bontemps among those from the company who participated. The Lakers own a modest 5-6 record despite having LeBron James and an array of promising pieces around him.
  • Kings forward Troy Williams is making a strong bid to land a full-time roster spot with the team, James Ham of NBC Sports contends. Williams signed a two-way contract with the team in October, holding per-game averages of 8.3 points and three rebounds in four contests. “It’s what they ask of me – just to be versatile, just to be athletic, just to defend multiple people,” Williams said. “What I focus on is how I can help this team defensively before anything else.” 
  • Suns president of basketball operations James Jones did LeBron James “a solid” by reaching a buyout with Tyson Chandler and allowing him to join the Lakers this early in the season, a league source told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin“He deserves all the credit,” LeBron told ESPN of Jones. “He was very instrumental. He did right by Tyson as a veteran.” Jones and James were teammates during a four-year run in Miami and three-year run in Cleveland, which produced a total of three NBA championships.

Suns Notes: Crawford, Okobo, Jones, Anderson

Following rumors of the Suns being interested in Jamal Crawford, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7FM has reported that the team has indeed offered the 18-year veteran a contract. Interim general manager James Jones expressed his interest in adding Crawford to the team, telling the sports radio station, “I like Jamal. I know him personally. He’s a great player, he’s a great guy.”

Crawford averaged 10.3 points and 2.3 assists per game with the Timberwolves last season and is known for being instant offense off the bench, regardless of which team he is playing for.

For the Suns, Crawford would be another veteran ball-handler the club could rely upon offensively alongside Devin Booker. However, Crawford would surely hamper the team’s defense, especially alongside players such as Booker, T.J. Warren and Ryan Anderson.

Should the Suns add Crawford, they would stand at 18 players on the roster and would then need to cut that number down to 15 by Monday afternoon.

There’s more out of Phoenix:

  • Speaking of Crawford, Ryan Anderson believes that the 38-year-old would be a good fit with the team. “Obviously having another veteran guy with his abilities – another vocal guy – who can come in and teach these young guys, especially at the guard position, would be really helpful for us,” Anderson said, per Duane Rankin of Arizona Central.
  • Rankin also points out that – while answering a question about defining success for the upcoming season – interim GM James Jones specifically mentioned Elie Okobo as part of the group of key young players of the future. Despite Okobo’s struggles in the preseason, it’s clear that Jones likes the young guard out of France.
  • Finally, Jones addressed the issue of his place in the organization following Ryan McDonough‘s ouster. As Gina Mizell reveals (Twitter link), Jones isn’t focused on earning the Suns full-time GM job, though he’s viewed as a frontrunner. “[Job] titles don’t mean anything to me,” Jones said. “The only title that matters is an NBA title.”

Suns Leaning Toward Promoting James Jones To GM

With Ryan McDonough no longer in the picture in Phoenix, former NBA forward James Jones is currently heading up the Suns‘ front office along with assistant GM Trevor Bukstein. And according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, there’s a good chance that Jones’ interim duties as co-GM will evolve into a permanent role as the club’s head of basketball operations.

[RELATED: Suns fire GM Ryan McDonough]

As Wojnarowski reports, Suns owner Robert Sarver, who is high on Jones, is leaning toward promoting him to the general manager role. Wojnarowski cautions that Sarver “has been known to change his mind” on personnel decisions, but the team’s owner has left little doubt in conversations this week that he envisions Jones as the eventual head of basketball ops. Jones has already begun to work on assembling his own scouting staff, sources tell ESPN.

According to Wojnarowski, Sarver has a reputation for poor leadership and aggressively inserting himself into roster decisions, which would make it challenging to recruit a top-tier veteran executive to replace McDonough. As Woj details, agents have told stories about having private conversations with Sarver without the front office’s knowledge, while rival executives say they could sometimes hear Sarver yelling in the background during phone calls with Phoenix’s front office.

Sarver has also never shown much enthusiasm for spending big money on a general manager, further limiting the appeal of the position to outside candidates. However, landing the role would be a big deal for Jones, whose career as an NBA player only ended in 2017. He was hired as the Suns’ VP of basketball operations last summer to help improve the front office’s relationships and communication with players.

If Jones is ultimately named the Suns’ new general manager, it will constitute a mini-trend — both Jones and Elton Brand, who was named the Sixers’ GM last month, played in the NBA within the last few years and are still in their late-30s.

Suns Fire GM Ryan McDonough

With the 2018/19 NBA regular season just eight days away, the Suns are shaking up their front office. Phoenix has fired general manager Ryan McDonough, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Vice president of basketball operations James Jones and assistant general manager Trevor Bukstein will take over GM duties on an interim basis, Charania adds (via Twitter).

“After much thought and a long evaluation of basketball operations, I have decided to relieve Ryan McDonough of his duties as general manager of the Phoenix Suns,” team owner Robert Sarver said today in a press release confirming the move. “Our focus in the short term is to prepare for the upcoming NBA season and to continue pursuing opportunities to strengthen our roster. Over the course of the season, we will explore both internal and external options as we look to restructure our basketball front office leadership.”

The timing of the move is unusual, as teams generally make major front office changes in the spring, giving the new management group the opportunity to tackle the draft and free agency. McDonough also signed an extension last summer and had two years left on his contract, as John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 observes (via Twitter). The fact that the Suns are moving on from McDonough now suggests that ownership hasn’t necessarily been thrilled with the club’s offseason moves.

The Suns landed the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft and secured a potential franchise player in Deandre Ayton, then signed veteran forward Trevor Ariza in free agency. Phoenix also locked up Devin Booker to a long-term extension. However, the club’s efforts to acquire a starting-caliber point guard have thus far been unsuccessful, a potential source of frustration for ownership. As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter), many potential trade partners that the Suns have spoken to have held out for an unprotected first-round pick in any deal.

McDonough’s tenure with the Suns began in May of 2013. The club won 48 games in his first season as general manager, but finished below .500 for the next four years, failing to record more than 24 wins in any of the last three seasons.

McDonough’s roster moves during his time in Phoenix have been hit and miss, with solid draft picks like Booker and T.J. Warren balanced out by less impactful top-10 selections like Alex Len, Dragan Bender, and Marquese Chriss.

The Suns have also rotated through three head coaches in the five years since McDonough was hired, going from Jeff Hornacek to Earl Watson to Igor Kokoskov. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the team’s hole at point guard might be particularly vexing for ownership since it wasn’t long ago that Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas were all on the roster.

According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Sarver – who has recently become more involved in the Suns’ day-to-day operations – is fond of Jones, who will become a candidate for the organization’s permanent GM job. Wojnarowski also suggests that Kevin McHale is a long-term candidate to watch, while Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated wouldn’t be surprised to see former Cavs GM David Griffin receive consideration for the Phoenix position (Twitter links).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Suns Considering ‘Handful’ Of Options For Top Pick

While the early consensus is that there are two players in the running to get drafted first overall, the Suns are considering a handful of options ahead of the big day. Adam Zagoria of ZAGSBLOG writes that the club met with No. 3-ranked Marvin Bagley III at the Draft Combine.

It is difficult and I think people are jumping to conclusions as far as [thinking] there’s only one or two guys in the mix for us,” general manager Ryan McDonough said in an interview with ESPN. “There are more than that. There are a handful of guys.

Of course it will be hard to imagine the perceived values of DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic dropping enough that the No. 1 pick goes to somebody else, even if that means the Suns end up trading it.

If you look around the NBA as far as the veteran players, there are probably a few players we would consider trading the pick for,” McDonough said. “It will be a busy month for us.

Perhaps that’s just McDonough doing his diligence and broadcasting that he’s open to high-value offers involving young stars with multiple years of team control left on their contracts.

For now, it’s reasonable to assume that the team will take advantage of the luck bestowed upon them at the Draft Lottery and, with that in mind, it’s worth noting that not only was Suns VP of Basketball Operations James Jones in attendance to watch Doncic play in the EuroLeague Final Four (h/t international hoops reporter David Pick) but franchise owner Robert Sarver was too (h/t Jonathan Givony of ESPN).

Couple that with the first-overall buzz that for months has surrounded Ayton, the Arizona Wildcat with whom the Suns are already quite familiar, and it’s hard to imagine the team turning down the opportunity to draft a potential franchise player at No. 1.

It’s still early and plenty can change in the weeks leading up to June 21. For now, it’s worth recognizing that Ayton and Doncic remain the conventional choices for the top two picks but that any team in the Suns’ position would be foolish not to explore all possible options.

If, when the dust settles, the team somehow still isn’t convinced about either Ayton or Doncic, there’s always the possibility of McDonough taking a page from Danny Ainge‘s book and swapping the first overall pick for a lower pick and additional assets, as Luke Adams wrote in a Suns feature yesterday.

Suns Rumors: Len, House, Booker, Fizdale

As we detailed last month, fifth-year center Alex Len seems like a good bet to leave the Suns as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Len reinforced that idea this weekend by talking like a player who is preparing to move on from his current situation.

“I had a great five years here,” Len said of his time in Phoenix, per Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. “I had ups and downs but I feel like it’s been a great time and a great learning experience with everything I’ve had thrown at me so I feel like anywhere I go or stay here from here on out I’m going to keep rising and get better.”

A year ago, Len became one of the few restricted free agents who sign a one-year qualifying offer rather than negotiating a longer-term deal with his current team or a rival club. Generally, players who take that approach don’t stick with their current club when they become eligible for unrestricted free agency a year later, so it’s not a real surprise that Len is already talking about his time with the Suns in the past tense.

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • While Len may be on his way out, two-way player Danuel House hopes that his recent play has shown the Suns – or another team – that he deserves a spot on an NBA roster next season, as Bordow details. “I think I’ve proven a lot,” said House, who has averaged 12.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 2.8 APG in his last five games. “I’m just going to play hard, try to make the right plays, that I’m able to step up and do things for the team that they need me to. That’s my main objective to show that I belong in this league and that I deserve to be here.”
  • In a separate article for The Arizona Republic, Bordow touches on a few topics, including Devin Booker‘s upcoming extension window, T.J. Warren‘s future role, and the Suns’ coaching search. Notably, Bordow fully expects Booker to sign a max deal with the club sometime after he becomes extension-eligible on July 1.
  • The Suns are among the teams expected to show “serious interest” in former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale, Marc Stein of The New York Times writes in his latest email newsletter. As Stein notes, James Jones has an “increasingly loud voice” in Phoenix’s front office, and Fizdale coached Jones for several years as an assistant in Miami.
  • For more Suns stories, including an explanation of how the “starter criteria” impacts Elfrid Payton and the details on the team locking up the top spot in the lottery standings, be sure to check out their team page right here.

Suns Notes: Jones, Booker, Cousins

Fourteen-year NBA veteran James Jones hasn’t had much time to acclimate to his new role as vice president of basketball operations for the Suns but, as Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes, the 37-year-old has fallen in love with the position just one year removed from his playing career.

Jones, who focuses on player development while team general manager Ryan McDonough tackles scouting, believes that the club is closer to winning than their record suggests and implies that they need to surround their solid young core with players committed to winning.

Our young guys have talent that needs to be realized,” Jones said. “I think we need to challenge them to be better, to be great and to continue to put them in a winning environment and surround them with players that want to win at all costs and raise the bar for them from a performance and conditioning standpoint.

If taken at face value, the club could be looking to take the next step in its rebuild, progressing from the asset accumulation stage that saw them acquire valuable young players like Devin Booker and Josh Jackson to the stage of actually starting to build a winning environment.

The Suns have failed to win 25 games in each of the past three seasons, so a conscious commitment to winning would be a notable development.

We’ll look to add guys that bring that type of mentality but also we have to create it internally by putting our guys in tough situations, putting our guys in strategic situations that will test their mental toughness, test their level of competitiveness and push them and reveal who they are,” he said.

There’s more out of Phoenix tonight:

  • The Suns were said to have an interest in DeMarcus Cousins when he came available for trade during the 2016/17 season. This summer he’ll be a free agent and HoopsHype’s Bryan Kalbrosky suggests that Phoenix, replete with several other former Kentucky Wildcats, could once again explore such an option.
  • Count Devin Booker among those confident that the Suns will be aggressive this offseason. “This summer is a big summer for us,” Booker told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “You hear our GM come out and say he’s going to be super aggressive. We have young talent, we have a lot of picks, with a lot of money too. So I think there’s definitely going to be a lot of moves made this summer.
  • The Suns have a pile of interesting young assets and a mandate to capitalize on them so expect an interesting summer in the desert. Did you know that you can get a sneak peek at any rumors that start to swirl in the weeks leading up to the much anticipated 2018 offseason? Follow our Phoenix Suns page or, if you’re using the Trade Rumors app, add the dedicated team feed to your account.

Cavaliers Notes: James, Gilbert, Trade Market, Love

The root of the Cavaliers’ problems lies in an adversarial relationship between LeBron James and owner Dan Gilbert, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. James has grown frustrated while watching star players change teams over the last eight months, with none of them coming to Cleveland. Cavs management counters that it lost $18MM last season because it paid $25MM in luxury taxes and points out that its bargaining position would be much stronger if James would commit to the franchise beyond this season.

Gilbert went through a difficult rebuilding process when James left Cleveland for Miami in 2010 and doesn’t want to repeat that experience. The team could announce to the league that Brooklyn’s unprotected first-rounder is available if James agrees to re-sign, but he is committed to keeping his options open. Meanwhile, the relationship between James and Gilbert is getting worse, and it’s showing up in the Cavaliers’ performance on the court.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • None of the players currently available on the trade market could turn things around in Cleveland, contends Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan would provide a much-needed defensive presence in the middle, but Lloyd doesn’t see him as a franchise player. Kings guard George Hill, whom the Cavaliers have also been linked to, would barely move the needle in the playoff race. Cleveland missed opportunities at major deals when Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony and others wound up elsewhere, and Lloyd believes it’s probably too late to save this season. After Saturday’s loss, James refused to comment on possible roster moves. “That’s not a question for me,” he said. “I show up to work every day. I bust my tail every day. I’m one of the first ones to get to the gym and I’m one of the last ones to leave. I do my part. I control what I can control and that is what I can control.”
  • The Cavs are suffering from a lack of locker-room leadership, Lloyd adds in the same story. In the past, that was provided by James Jones, Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, but Jones retired, Jefferson was traded and Frye has lost influence as his playing time decreased.
  • Kevin Love plans to remain as active as possible while he’s sidelined for eight weeks with a broken bone in his left hand, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “Obviously I can’t use my left arm as much as I would like to but I’ll still be able to do some ball handling on the court and be dominant with my right hand quite a bit, but keep my legs underneath me for when I do get back,” he said. “It will be very meaningful to get back as quickly as I can. … I’m not rushing it but when the doctors say I’m good to go I’ll be able to get out there.”

Suns Notes: Chandler, Triano, Monroe, Jones

In the wake of Eric Bledsoe‘s now-infamous “I don’t wanna be here” tweet on the first weekend of the 2017/18 season, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough received a call from Jeff Schwartz, Tyson Chandler‘s agent, and admitted to ESPN’s Zach Lowe that he was expecting the worst when he got that voicemail.

“Given the way our season had started, it wouldn’t have been shocking if Tyson wanted to be moved,” McDonough said.

However, Schwartz expressed the opposite sentiment, assuring McDonough that his client was “fine” and enjoys mentoring the young players in Phoenix. “It was a breath of fresh air,” the Suns GM said. Chandler remains a trade candidate, since he probably doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term plans, but unlike Bledsoe, he’s in no rush to leave.

Lowe’s deep dive into the Suns – which is worth checking out in full – includes several more tidbits out of Phoenix, including some details on the changes that Jay Triano has made since replacing Earl Watson. Triano, who has been focused on accountability, has impressed the Suns so far and has a chance to earn the head coaching job on a permanent basis, per McDonough.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic passes along more comments from McDonough, who said after Tuesday’s Bledsoe trade that the move could speed up the team’s timeline. As Bordow details, even though McDonough suggested that Phoenix has the flexibility to make a major roster addition in 2018, he said multiple times that the club is “more likely” to pursue a top free agent in 2019.
  • Within Bordow’s piece, McDonough also talks about the newest Sun, Greg Monroe, indicating that he’s open to a trade but that a buyout is less likely. The Suns GM intends to discuss all the possibilities with Monroe’s agent, David Falk.
  • The Suns’ vice president of basketball operations, James Jones, is taking many of the lessons he learned during his years as a player in Miami and applying them to his new job in Phoenix, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

LBJ Angling For Cavs To Acquire Josh Jackson?

LeBron James is aware of Kyrie Irving‘s trade request and it appears he’s not going to sit around and be passive in the situation. According to ESPN’s Pablo Torre (h/t Carter Rodriquez of SB Nation), James is “hustling on behalf” of the Cavaliers in regards to finding an Irving trade.

“LeBron James is doing some LeBron James offseason work,” Torre said on ESPN’s first take. “And my understanding is it’s not just Derrick Rose, it’s not just Eric Bledsoe. LeBron James happens to know a guy named James Jones . . . LeBron James is hustling behind the scenes, is my understanding, asking ‘Is Josh Jackson available for Kyrie Irving?’ And the answer back that I heard is ‘no, he is not.’ But LeBron James is hustling on behalf of the Cleveland Cavaliers, at least for this one year.”

Phoenix recently named Jones, who is a longtime friend and teammate of LBJ’s, as its vice president of basketball operations. The first time executive played for the Cavs alongside James and Irving over the last three seasons.

The Suns are not on Irving’s short list of teams of which the Duke product would prefer. However, Irving does not wield a no-trade clause, so the team could ship him anywhere it finds a deal without the point guard’s permission.

If Phoenix relents on its unwillingness to include Jackson in an Irving trade, a deal centered around Bledsoe and this year’s No. 4 overall pick arguably could be Cleveland’s best option on the market. Bledsoe, who shares an agent with James, recently worked out with Rose and the 4-time NBA MVP.