Phoenix Suns promote Jones to president of basketball operations, GM

FILE - In this April 24, 2019, file photo, Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones speaks to...
FILE - In this April 24, 2019, file photo, Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones speaks to the media in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York File)(Matt York | AP)
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 1:31 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2022 at 4:01 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The Phoenix Suns announced that James Jones will be promoted to President of Basketball Operations, in addition to serving as General Manager.

Jones played for the Suns from 2005-2007 before rejoining the franchise as vice president of basketball operations in 2017. He was promoted to general manager in 2019 and was later honored as NBA Executive of the Year in 2021. Jones said in a Tuesday press conference that this new role will allow him to widen his perspective of the impact that the team has in general as well as in the community.

“You understand, as you start to raise expectations and you start to do more, you need capable people with you to not just assist you but to push you and challenge you” he said. “They’ve done a great job to challenge me to think differently, to continue to push me forward with this macro view for what the Suns and the Phoenix Mercury should become.” He said this new role will force him to delegate some of his responsibilities and will challenge him to grow. “This is an opportunity to stretch myself beyond what happens on the floor with the Suns, but more about what happens across all walks and all channels for the teams,” Jones said.

Jones’ various successes alongside fellow staff include an undefeated NBA Bubble run (2020), consecutive playoff berths (2020-21, 2021-22), back-to-back Pacific Division titles (2020-21, 2021-22), a single-season franchise-record 64 regular season wins (2021-22), a franchise-record 18-game win streak (2021-22), a Western Conference title (2020-21), and the league’s best record since the start of the 2020-21 season.

“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,” Suns Interim Governor Sam Garvin said. “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.”

With regard to the business side of the Suns, Jones said he plans to keep pushing upward. “The collective efforts of our business and basketball operations have allowed us to provide an amazing atmosphere and best-in-class experience for our fans and community,” Jones said. “I remain excited about and dedicated to driving success for our teams on and off the court.” He said he doesn’t see any personnel changes to come in the future.

When asked if he envisioned this position from the beginning of his career, Jones said he was willing to fulfill whatever role was needed to support the Suns. “Whatever role that takes, whatever capacity, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “If I walk away with an NBA title, then that’s what matters but anything is just a reflection of my work but more importantly the success of the team. I’m here to help the team in whatever way possible to reach our goal. NBA is the only title that really matters to me.”

As for his mindset regarding team unity, Jones said he understands there’s no cookie-cutter measurement but that he bets on his team to see it through. “A team all has to complement, it all has to work. You want five guys on the court to fill the holes of each other so they’re on cohesive unit. There’s no cookie-cutter unit,” Jones said. “You just have to experiment and test.”

As his first move as manager, Jones hired Monty Williams as head coach. The Suns jumped from 19 wins to 34 in the two’s first season working together in 2019-2020 and went on to land 51 wins the following season and 64 victories a season ago that earned Williams NBA Coach of the Year honors.