Skip to content

Suns introduce GM Ryan McDonough, who says his first order of business is to hire a new head coach

May 9, 2013, 9:01 PM EDT

Ryan McDonough

PHOENIX — The Suns held their introductory press conference to introduce new general manager Ryan McDonough on Thursday, who made it clear that cementing a strong candidate in the team’s head coaching position was the highest of priorities.

Lindsey Hunter was placed into the interim role after Phoenix parted ways with Alvin Gentry 41 games into the season, and was underwhelming in finishing the year with a 12-29 record.

No decision has yet been made on Hunter’s status. But the way McDonough was speaking about the search planned to fill the head coaching chair for next season would lead you to believe that the team will look high and low elsewhere for a more solid long-term solution.

“I’m going to spearhead that process, and the process has already begun,” McDonough said. “That was part of my interview with [team owner Robert Sarver and president of basketball operations Lon Babby]. We discussed potential coaching candidates, and who we thought would be good fits, and we were in alignment on a lot of the names — most of the names.

“So we have an initial list to go off of. We’ve received a good amount of interest from people all over the basketball world who want to be the coach of this storied franchise, and they see a great opportunity here. That’s my first order of business as the general manager, to find the best guy for that job.”

When talking about lists of names of potential candidates, that wouldn’t appear to bode well for the chances of an interim head coach retaining the spot for next season.

But when asked if it was fair to say that Hunter’s name might be further down on his list, McDonough wasn’t ready to publicly declare Hunter as out of the running just yet.

“No, I don’t think that’s fair to say,” McDonough said. “We will meet with Lindsey. I don’t know him that well personally, but I’ve heard good things about Lindsey’s character, and his toughness, and his work ethic. So Lindsey is a candidate. I know he’s interviewing for jobs elsewhere, but he’s a candidate for us as well, and we’re going to go into it with an open mind and consider all the top guys. And Lindsey is one of the top guys.”

McDonough then went on to describe the qualities he and the organization will look for in its next head coach.

“I think the most important thing to find in our head coach, the next head coach of the Suns is someone who’s a leader,” he said. “We need someone who commands the respect of the players, commands the respect of the entire organization. We also need someone who’s a teacher, who can help our young players to develop and get better and maximize their individual talent. So the list that Lon and Robert and I have compiled, all the guys on that list have those characteristics, and I’m confident we’re going to get somebody really good.”

Again, that simply doesn’t sound like Hunter. And that’s to be expected.

Hunter was a favorite of the team’s previous general manager, Lance Blanks, and was awarded the role without having any prior coaching experience at any level. It’s not uncommon for a new GM to want to hand pick the head coach he’ll work with during his tenure, and that’s especially true in a situation like the one in Phoenix that will require multiple years to rebuild the franchise to a respectable level of success.

**********

A few other notable quotes:

– McDonough said he expects his philosophy to be very similar to the one of Danny Ainge, who he learned the job from in Boston.

“Danny Ainge is probably my professional mentor,” he said. “I think my philosophy will be the same. In Boston, one of the things Danny did so well, he was very aggressive in acquiring draft picks and trying to get the best players through whatever means necessary. One of the things that I learned from Danny Ainge is to be unafraid, and that not very move is going to be perfect. I’ll probably make some mistakes. But if you’re willing to work at it, and correct some of those mistakes — and again, if you’re unafraid — then that can lead to some great results.”

– McDonough stressed the importance of the draft — an area which hasn’t exactly been a strength of the Suns franchise at any time in the recent past.

“I would say that generally, you have to draft well — that’s the life blood of your franchise. That’s how you’ll have sustainable success over the years. Now that being said, if a great player wants to come play for the Phoenix Suns next year, and we have the space to get him, we have the ability to get him, then we’re going to go get him.”

– McDonough is a big proponent of using analytics, and will make sure everyone he brings on board will similarly understand the value of them — including the team’s next head coach.

“I think understanding the value of analytics is important for everyone in a basketball operation,” he said. “The college scouts need to understand it, and we need to develop a great model where we can study guys in the past and see which stats have translated into NBA success, and maybe which ones have not.

“We need to embrace all the newest trends that the good teams in the league are embracing. That’s adjusted plus-minus, emphasizing corner threes, the value of two-for-ones — and those are just a few examples of the things that we’re going to ask our head coaching candidates about during the coaching search. I’m positive that the next coach of the Suns will understand the value of all those things.”

Latest Posts
  1. Suns shake up their coaching staff

    May 29, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    Phoenix Suns v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    Jeff Hornacek remains in charge, but there has been some shuffling among his assistants.

  2. PBT Extra: Houston Rockets face interesting off-season

    May 29, 2015, 7:01 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets - Game One Getty Images

    There are questions about the future of Josh Smith, Patrick Beverley and others with the team.

  3. LeBron James on how to slow Stephen Curry: “The same way you slow me down … You can’t.”

    May 29, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 12:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors goes in for a layup over LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat at ORACLE Arena on February 12, 2014 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The two most popular players in the NBA this season (with Kevin Durant out) go head-to-head on the NBA’s biggest stage.

  4. PBT Extra with NBASavant.com: Cleveland may want to cover Curry in the left corner

    May 29, 2015, 5:29 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five Getty Images

    Cleveland’s defense has looked better in the playoffs than it has all season, but starting next Thursday it will get the biggest test it has had all season.

  5. It’s official: Scott Skiles hired as head coach of Orlando Magic

    May 29, 2015, 4:53 PM EDT

    150523_skiles Getty Images

    Skiles is a former Magic player from 1989 through 1994.

  6. Cookin’ with the Currys, guest-starring Riley Curry (video)

    May 29, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Ayesha Curry cooks, Stephen Curry tastes, and Riley Curry points out raspberry-sauce spills

  7. PBT Podcast: Talking Thibodeau/Bulls divorce; future for Rockets, Hawks

    May 29, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Two Getty Images

    Would hiring Thibodeau really a wise call by the Pelicans?

  8. Warriors’ Klay Thompson officially diagnosed with concussion

    May 29, 2015, 3:09 PM EDT

    Klay Thompson Klay Thompson

    The NBA needs to review this process going forward.

  9. Klay Thompson should not have been cleared to return to Game 5 after concussion evaluation

    May 29, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT

    Klay Thompson Klay Thompson

    Warriors guard passed, but not enough time had passed to determine his health

  10. Rumor: Thunder promised to draft Cameron Payne No. 14

    May 29, 2015, 12:43 PM EDT

    Cameron Payne, Reece Chamberlain AP

    Believable, but is that why it’s believed?

  11. Report: Cavaliers could activate Anderson Varejao in NBA Finals if necessary

    May 29, 2015, 12:04 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game One Getty Images

    Varejao was slated to miss the entire season with an Achilles tear

  12. Dwight Howard suspended one game after foul switcheroo

    May 29, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT

    Dwight Howard, Klay Thompson Dwight Howard, Klay Thompson

    NBA gives Rockets center a flagrant foul, rescinds technical fouls for him and Andrew Bogut

  13. Report: Magic could hire Scott Skiles as soon as today

    May 29, 2015, 10:54 AM EDT

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26:  Head coach Scott Skiles of the Milwaukee Bucks looks on against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 26, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Scott Skiles Getty Images

    Contract negotiations reportedly ongoing

  14. National Spelling Bee co-champion wore LeBron jersey under dress shirt

    May 29, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    Gokul Venkatachalam predicts Cavaliers in 6

  15. Report: Fred Hoiberg still expected to become Bulls’ next coach

    May 29, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT

    Fred Hoiberg AP

    Iowa State coach reportedly had concerns about NBA jump due to health

  16. Three coaches who may replace Tom Thibodeau in Chicago

    May 29, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    150529_Hoiberg Getty Images

    They want Fred Hoiberg, but does he want them?

  17. Report: Kevin Love going to “look around” this summer as free agent; Celtics, Lakers, Rockets possible

    May 29, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Kevin Love AP

    I expect Love will stay with the Cavaliers this summer, but a lot of people around the league are not so convinced.

Did Chicago do the right thing in firing Thibodeau?

Despite ending, Hawks had season to remember
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. S. Curry (8447)
  2. K. Love (6470)
  3. K. Irving (6350)
  4. K. Korver (5013)
  5. L. James (4821)
  1. K. Bryant (4004)
  2. D. Howard (3954)
  3. A. Varejao (3902)
  4. K. Durant (3896)
  5. A. Horford (3667)