By officially naming Ryan McDonough (via NBA.com) as their new general manager, the Phoenix Suns have avoided doing the safe thing and made it clear that the team is about to undergo a much-needed transformation.
(The hiring was first reported by the KTAR's John Gambadoro.)
That transformation is what happens when you hire a 33-year-old to be the new talent evaluator for the organization, one that will be younger than Suns center Jermaine O'Neal.
Phoenix is announcing that significant change is about to happen. Thankfully the change is coming right at a crossroads for the organization, one that will determine the Suns immediate future for years to come.
It's a crossroads similar to where McDonough's former boss, Boston general manager Danny Ainge, found himself when inheriting the Boston Celtics back in 2003. Ainge looked at the Celtics roster in very much the same way that McDonough will need to look at this current Suns team.
Ainge made bold, unconventional moves that finally got the Celtics back on top. That transformation from mediocre team to NBA champion encountered a lot of growing pains along the way.
Sometimes you have to be really bad in order to be very good. The Suns were 25-57 last season and will likely be the similar this coming season. But the 2014-2015 Suns will be all about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
While McDonough wouldn't have been my first choice, he is an excellent get for the Suns. His selection also makes it clear that Suns president Lon Babby didn't bring in a puppet or figurehead. As much as Babby hinted that he will be the de facto general manager when announcing the Lance Blanks firing, bringing in someone like McDonough is going to challenge and help him at the same time.
See, the beautiful thing about hiring a young, progressive general manager is that bringing in a new vision from someone outside the team will automatically change the culture and thinking of the organization.
McDonough has literally worked every single position of an NBA front office, a distinct change from Babby coming in from the outside as a player agent. In the official announcement, Babby offered up this assessment of his new GM upon announcing McDonough's hiring:
Ryan distinguished himself among an impressive group of candidates for our GM position...His natural leadership and communication skills will serve the Suns well. And, his prodigious work ethic and ability to identify talent will enable us to take full advantage of the 10 draft choices, including six in the first round, that we have over the next three years. We welcome his championship pedigree to our organization.
That communication piece for McDonough will be extremely critical in repairing a Suns image that has looked fractured and dysfunctional in recent years. Having a general manager who can clearly explain the vision of the organization and instill confidence in the players, ownership and fanbase is invaluable in this day and age.
It's only the first step on the long road back, but hiring McDonough was a giant step in the right direction.