Suns Firing GM Ryan McDonough Was the Right Move — But Why Now?

One week before the season begins, the Phoenix Suns are without a general manager.

Phoenix fired GM Ryan McDonough Monday, according to Stadium NBA Insider Shams Charania. McDonough had been with the team for five seasons and nearly survived another offseason before the organization parted ways with him.

According to Charania, McDonough was let go due to the stunted development of first-round picks Alex Len and Dragan Bender. However, McDonough also drafted Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton. The Suns liked Booker enough to hand him a five-year max contract, and Ayton has been great so far in preseason play. He’s averaging 21.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game.

It has been an interesting offseason in Phoenix. The Suns sent Brandon Knight and first-round pick Marquese Chriss to Houston to take on Ryan Anderson’s massive contract. They added Trevor Ariza to a crowded wing rotation and then spent a first-round pick on Mikal Bridges, another perimeter player. When McDonough took over the Suns, the point guard position was loaded. Now, Phoenix is still searching for a player to fill that position.

McDonough straddled an odd line when he took over in 2013. After missing the playoffs despite going 48-34 in 2013-14, the Suns gutted most of the roster while also sacrificing their best draft asset to the 76ers in a trade. Two seasons later, McDonough was forced to embark on a full-scale rebuild. As previously noted, his draft picks have provided mixed results.

Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones and Assistant GM Trevor Bukstein will take over the general manager position in Phoenix for the time being, according to Charania.

The Suns will likely be headed towards a ninth consecutive season without playoff basketball, but franchise cornerstones like Booker and Ayton are in place. The Suns will certainly attempt to move a wing player to secure a point guard and should receive good offers. Wing players are valuable in today’s NBA and the Suns have four competent ones they can afford to part ways with.

The timing of the move is concerning, given McDonough had a full offseason to make personnel decisions. He also hired a coach and had the top overall pick in the draft. If the Suns wanted to move on from McDonough, which was probably the right decision, why wait? Having the opportunity to select a head coach and potential franchise player would be enticing to many would-be GMs, giving Phoenix plenty of highly qualified candidates to choose from.

With only one week left before the start of the regular season, front offices are relatively set. The Suns will likely have to roll with Jones and Bukstein through the season.

In the end, Phoenix made a decision based on McDonough’s five-year track record. The team lost 255 games in McDonough’s tenure and failed to make the postseason. Although he drafted Booker and Ayton, McDonough missed on several high-lottery picks and failed to add quality veterans around a young core. Unfortunately, the timing leaves Phoenix in limbo once again.