The NBA world came to a standstill Monday when Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver surprisingly fired General Manager Ryan McDonough, replacing him with James Jones, who was working under the title of vice president of basketball operations.
The domino effect hit the Suns’ minor league affiliate, Northern Arizona, by Monday evening, as the team announced that General Manager Louis Lehman had been “relieved of his duties.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday afternoon that Jones quickly went to work as the interim GM for Phoenix, firing several of McDonough’s organizational allies including assistant GM Pat Connelly, director of scouting Courtney Witte, director of international scouting Emilio Kovacic.
Lehman was grouped in that category, according to Wojnarowski.
Moving forward, Northern Arizona Suns Assistant General Manager Dylan DeBusk will head up “basketball operations,” the team said Monday night. That’s NBA speak for DeBusk will act as GM until further notice.
Until the dust settles, however, both at the NBA level in Phoenix, and at the NBA Gatorade League level, the 28-year-old DeBusk is calling the shots in Prescott Valley.
And with the G League draft 11 days away, DeBusk will be tasked with quickly gathering as much intel as he can on the available player field to piece together a club for first-year head coach Brett Burchard. The NBA staff under Jones will surely have a presence in the war room since Northern Arizona is technically drafting potential future players for Phoenix.
Several top players for Northern Arizona will likely not be back as Josh Gray and Alec Peters signed overseas, while Xavier Silas (Denver Nuggets) and Shaquille Harrison (Phoenix) are in the NBA, leaving DeBusk’s job even more difficult to field a competitive team.
So how does this all work out? I have no idea. The G League is in constant flux, as Suns fans have been privy to in the last year.
Northern Arizona is already on its third coach in as many seasons in Prescott Valley. Is it a bad thing? No, of course not. It means the players, coaches and administrative people are wanted. They are coveted elsewhere and are getting opportunities. That’s what the G League is designed for.
How does it work out on the court in terms of wins this season? That is yet to be seen. DeBusk and Burchard have worked together before during the inaugural 2016-17 season in Prescott Valley as director of basketball operations (DeBusk) and assistant coach (Burchard).
For the fans’ sake, let’s hope that relationship pays off this season or it may be a very long winter in Prescott Valley for the Suns faithful.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is news/sports editor for The Daily Courier of Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud at @TheEditorDesk. Email email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.