The Phoenix Suns fired general manager Ryan McDonough just a week before the season and not quite 15 months after the team inked him to an extension through 2020.
The Suns had an active offseason, landing Deandre Ayton with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, swinging a trade for rookie Mikal Bridges, signing Devon Booker to a max extension, landing a new head coach in Igor Kokoskov, and signing Trevor Ariza away from the Houston Rockets with a one-year, $15 million deal.
But the team has yet to achieve its offseason mission of landing a starting point guard to match with their young roster. According to RealGM’s Keith Smith, Suns ownership “is frustrated with the lack of progress on that and other fronts with the roster.”
Here are six candidates to fill the newly vacant GM position.
ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski described the former Rockets head coach as “one candidate to watch long-term.” McHale was hired by the Minnesota Timberwolves upon his retirement as a player in 1993, and worked for them in various capacities — including as general manager and as head coach — before departing in 2009.
The longtime LeBron James teammate was hired on July 19, 2017, after his final season as a player, to be Phoenix’s vice president of basketball operations. He’s now serving as an interim general manager, along with Trevor Bukstein.
“James Jones has become a favorite of (Suns owner Robert) Sarver, too,” Wojnarowski tweeted. “He’ll be a GM candidate there.”
The architect of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA title team, Griffin’s been one of the most qualified GM candidates on the market since he and the team parted ways in 2017. He’s spent the past year working as an analyst on NBA TV.
Griffin worked for the Suns for 17 years, starting as an intern in 1993 and working his way up to become the team’s senior vice president of basketball operations.
The Oklahoma City Thunder vice president and assistant general manager has long been one of the NBA’s more intriguing GM prospects, one who told The Oklahoman that he’s been “afforded opportunities” to move on from his position.
“Obviously at some point he’s gonna have the opportunity to move on and be a general manager, and I think he’ll be great when that time comes,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti told the paper. “But we’ve also been incredibly blessed that he feels so passionate about the Thunder and our mission and our vision here.”
Another name often bandied about whenever a GM position opens up, Zarren’s the highly regarded right-hand man of Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge. However, he’s a lifelong Celtics fan, and, according to The Washington Post, his family still owns season tickets, so a job on the other side of the country might not thrill him.
“Long before sports scientists invaded NBA training facilities, Sheppard was one of the first front-office execs to canvass the globe for new ideas to improve performance,” ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz wrote of Sheppard, the Wizards senior vice president who’s been with the team for 15 seasons. “Innovation is a personal passion for Sheppard, who can deliver a dissertation on what a European soccer club is doing with hydration, and how Australian rugby teams are integrating injury prevention.”