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Suns' James Jones Promoted to President of Basketball Operations; Was Serving as GM

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 28, 2022

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 1 -  General Manager James Jones takes the stage during the Phoenix Suns open practice on October 1, 2022, at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage / NBAE via Getty Images)
Barry Gossage / NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns promoted general manager James Jones to the role of president of basketball operations.

Sam Garvin, who's serving as the team's interim governor with Robert Sarver suspended, issued a statement on the move Monday:

"In the nearly 15 years I have known James, he has excelled in every role he performed, from player to NBPA Treasurer to his roles in our front office, most recently as general manager. James has the unique ability to create and lead high-performing teams in basketball operations and his commitment to collaborating with our business side, including at the C-level with partners like PayPal and Verizon, is second to none. We are fortunate for his contributions across the organization and this promotion recognizes his commitment to excellence."

The Suns named Jones their director of player personnel in 2017, and he moved up the front office in no time. By 2018, he was the interim general manager following the firing of Ryan McDonough. The interim tag came off in 2019.

Under Jones' watch, Phoenix reached the NBA Finals in 2020-21, their first trip since 1993, and had the NBA's best record in 2021-22.

Jones, who won the Executive of the Year for 2020-21, signed an extension with the Suns in January to reaffirm his long-term commitment to the organization.

Beyond what he has done from a roster-building perspective, the 42-year-old has helped Phoenix navigate through some turbulence.

In September, the NBA released the findings of the independent investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct against Sarver.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, which led the inquiry, found that Sarver "engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, as reflected in team and league rules and policies. This conduct included the use of racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees; sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying."

The allegations had cast a cloud over the franchise for months. Baxter Holmes of ESPN first reported on the situation in November 2021.

With many feeling the NBA let Sarver off lightly, the fallout didn't end when the report came out either.

PayPal said it wouldn't renew its sponsorship deal with the Suns if Sarver remained after his one-year suspension was complete. ESPN's Ramona Shelburne (via Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin) reported PayPal wasn't alone and that "there were a lot of other league sponsors and team sponsors that were lining up to pull away from the Suns and not be publicly associated with them."

Sarver announced on Sept. 21 that he intends to sell the Suns and the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.

In a much different challenge, Jones also had to help patch up Deandre Ayton's relationship with the team.

Ayton logged just 17 minutes in Phoenix's Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Semifinals, and it exposed wider fissures between him and the Suns. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported in May the veteran center "did not feel valued by this Phoenix organization" after he didn't get a max contract before the 2021-22 season.

Not only did the Suns ultimately match Ayton's four-year, $132.9 million offer sheet from the Indiana Pacers, but they also appear to have resolved the lingering issues.

They're first in the Western Conference at 13-6, and their starting big man is averaging 16.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks. His production would be even better were Chris Paul not out with a heel injury.

Thanks to his extension, Jones wasn't leaving Phoenix anytime soon. Now, he has a title that reflects his importance to the Suns.