McDonough: ‘We Didn’t Draft Anybody to Be Replacements’

Barry Gossage/NBAE
by Matt Petersen

Thinking ahead and playing general manager is fun, but Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough forestalled any thoughts that June’s draft served as preventative action to July’s free agency.

Sixty percent of Phoenix’s starting lineup will be free agents next week. Two of them (Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker) are restricted, meaning the Suns can match any offer extended them by antoher team. The third (Channing Frye) has long-term ties to the area.

All of them, McDonough said, are an offseason priority.

“With free agency, you’re not sure exactly what’s going to happen,” he said. “We’re really high on the three free agents that we have. We’d like to bring all of them back if we’re able to do that.”

Knowing that puts less pressure for TJ Warren to duplicate the 25 points per game he produced in college, or for Tyler Ennis to perform an encore of his late-game heroics initially staged at Syracuse.

More importantly and to the point, there is no hidden meaning between the rookies selected and their elder free agent counterparts.

“We didn’t draft anybody to be replacements for those guys. Let’s put it that way,” McDonough said. “We drafted these guys because we think they can help solidify our depth and because we want to keep bringing young talent into the pipeline. We think they can be really good players down the road, but our top priority would be to bring back the free agents that we have and add these guys to that group.”