Pat Connelly

Suns Rumors: Nash, Morris, Connelly, Point Guards

Former Suns guard and Hall of Famer Steve Nash has no interest in replacing GM Ryan McDonough, who was abruptly dismissed on Monday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Though Nash is a favorite of owner Robert Sarver, Nash does not want the time-consuming responsibility of running a front office, Wojnarowski adds. Nash is currently a Warriors consultant. Vice president of basketball operations James Jones and assistant GM Trevor Bukstein have taken over GM duties in Phoenix on an interim basis.

We have more from Phoenix:

  • Former Suns Markieff Morris and Mike James voiced their distaste for McDonough on social media, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays. McDonough infuriated Morris, currently with the Wizards, and his brother Marcus Morris by trading Marcus to the Pistons in the summer of 2015 after they signed team-friendly contracts with Phoenix. “Bout time lol,” Morris tweeted after learning of McDonough’s dismissal. James, who was waived last December after signing a contract two weeks earlier, tweeted, “I don’t think he was the right person for that job.”
  • Suns assistant GM Pat Connelly and director of scouting Courtney Witte were also fired on Monday, Michael Scotto of The Athletic tweets. Connelly was the Wizards’ director of player personnel before he was hired by Phoenix in 2013. More front office changes could be on the horizon, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Isaiah Canaan, Shaquille Harrison and rookies De’Anthony Melton and Elie Okobo continue to compete for point guard duties and none has emerged, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reports. First-year coach Igor Kokoskov admits that he needs to see much more from all of them. “A lot of mistakes,” he told Rankin and other media members. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.”
  • The timing of McDonough’s firing is an example of how Sarver has made a mess of the franchise, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post opines. The Suns will probably never reach their potential with Sarver heading the organization, Bontemps adds.

Suns Notes: Ellenson, Bogdanovic, Qi

Henry Ellenson is an option for the Suns at No.4 or No. 13 should he fall that far and Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic details how the 6’11” power forward turned himself into a perimeter threat. “I wasn’t always taller than [opponents]…I played point guard all the way up to eighth grade,” Ellenson said. Arthur Hill of Hoops Rumors profiled the big man prior to the draft lottery.

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • Phoenix continues to monitor Bogdan Bogdanovic with the hopes of him joining the team next season, Coro writes in a separate piece“Physically, he keeps getting stronger,” Suns Assistant GM Pat Connelly said of the 2014 first round pick. “His feel for the game keeps improving.”
  • The Suns worked out power forward Zhou Qi from China and former Arizona State center Eric Jacobsen over the weekend, Coro writes in a separate piece. Qi might be an ideal draft-and-stash candidate, Coro adds, but it’s undetermined whether Qi would be interested in such an arrangement.
  • The Suns will work out six more players today. Michael Bryson, Stacy Davis, Demetrius Jackson, Damion Lee, Abdel Nader and Retin Obasohan will all be in Phoenix, per the team’s Twitter feed.

Lon Babby To Reduce Role With Suns

12:59pm: The move came at Babby’s behest, according to a statement he made as part of a Suns press release confirming the transition that the team has on its website.

“I am grateful that [owner] Robert [Sarver] has accommodated my wish to reduce my work load, while remaining a vital part of the Suns organization,” Babby said. “At this stage of my career, I welcome the flexibility that comes with this new role, a flexibility that will enable me to do other things that are important to me both personally and in the community. I feel particularly confident in making this transition because of the quality of leadership in place within the organization.”

The press release doesn’t indicate that McDonough will assume Babby’s job title of president of basketball operations. McDonough will nonetheless take on added responsibilities, as will assistant GMs Pat Connelly and Trevor Bukstein, the team said.

12:07pm: Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby will move into a role as senior adviser and GM Ryan McDonough will become the team’s head of basketball operations on August 1st, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Babby has held the president’s title since the 2010/11 season, when he and former GM Lance Blanks came aboard. Phoenix replaced Blanks with McDonough in 2013.

It’s not immediately clear whether Babby, who signed a two-year deal to stick with the Suns in 2013, is choosing to make this transition or if the team is pushing him aside. Phoenix has pivoted away from the Steve Nash era under his watch, but the team has yet to make the playoffs since Babby came aboard. McDonough appears to have had plenty of influence since his hiring, experimenting with a point guard heavy roster the last two seasons, with mixed results.

Babby is a former player agent whose clients included Tim Duncan, Ray Allen and Grant Hill. McDonough, who spent several years in the Celtics organization before joining the Suns, was Boston’s assistant GM for the three seasons prior to his move to Phoenix.

Western Notes: Hollins, Clippers, Iguodala, Love

Following up on her report this morning which indicated that negotiations between the Grizzlies and Lionel Hollins had become "dormant," Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com took to Twitter to add a couple more details.

According to Shelburne, talks between the two sides never really even got to money or terms, since there was a sense that the short-term deal the team wanted was a sign to Hollins that he wasn't really wanted back. Although Hollins wanted to return, coming back on a two-year contract with increased expectations and perhaps a lesser roster was a problematic scenario, says Shelburne.

Here are a few more notes from around the Western Conference:

  • One source told Shelburne that Hollins was scheduled to speak with the Clippers this afternoon (Twitter link). 
  • Michael Lee of the Washington Post tweets that the Suns have named Pat Connelly – the former Wizards' director of player personnel – as an assistant GM.  Ken Berger of CBS Sports added that Phoenix also hired Ronnie Lester – formerly the scouting director of the Lakers – as a scout along with promoting Trevor Bukstein as another assistant GM (Twitter links). 
  • According to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, the Clippers' front office loves Brian Shaw as a head coaching candidate, while owner Donald Sterling may prefer George Karl.
  • Asked by TNT's David Aldridge what effect Karl's ouster in Denver would have on his odds of re-signing with the Nuggets, Andre Iguodala replied, "Good question. Need some time to let it sink in."
  • Ten years after the Spurs nearly landed Jason Kidd in free agency, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports looks back on a summer that would have changed the futures of two points guards, one (Kidd) who retired this week, and another (Tony Parker) who is playing in his fourth NBA Finals.
  • Appearing on ESPN's Sportscenter today (link via ESPN.com), Kevin Love said he had "absolutely" moved past any negativity he felt toward the Timberwolves and is looking forward to seeing what Flip Saunders will do as the team's new head of basketball operations.
  • John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune wonders if Danny Granger would make sense as a trade target for the Pelicans.