The Valley sports media has been tripping over itself in lauding the hiring of new Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, calling it a turning point and a ray of light for a franchise that has been in a death spiral during these past couple years of the Robert Sarver era.
That may well come to pass. McDonough has a great family sports tree, father and legendary sportswriter Will McDonough, to brother/broadcaster Sean, and he has been the poster boy for the new breed of basketball executive. The 33-year-old worked under Danny Ainge, a great, if unorthodox basketball mind, and McDonough has been lauded in many national publications for his talent evaluation skills.
But while it’s hard to imagine things getting any worse at US Airways Center that it is now, I’m not quite ready to anoint McDonough as a savior just yet.
Maybe it’s because I’m skeptical about how much power Sarver and team president Lon Babby will actually entrust in McDonough. Maybe it’s because, even though the fortunes of an NBA franchise can turn with the addition of only two or three players, the job that’s currently before him seems more daunting than that of new Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim.
Or maybe it’s because this all seems so familiar: a sagging Arizona sports franchise entrusting its future in the hands of a young, sabermetric-savvy guy from Boston with hopes of restoring past glory.
Fingers are crossed, hoping the Ryan McDonough era turns out much better than Josh Byrnes era did across the street.
Let’s hope the Suns don’t follow the Arizona Diamondbacks under Byrnes and trade away a Carlos Gonzalez, hire an A.J. Hinch or change their color scheme in an attempt to divert attention from a poor product along the way. It was a lot easier to release Mike DiFelice than it will be to swallow Michael Beasley’s salary, but sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and move on.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.