Suns name James Jones general manager

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns announced today they have named James Jones as general manager. The club has also added Jeff Bower as senior vice president of basketball operations and retained Trevor Bukstein as assistant general manager.

Jones will oversee all basketball operations for the team with Bower and Bukstein reporting to him.

“James has demonstrated a remarkable ability to manage the day-to-day efforts of our front office while developing strong relationships with our players, coaches and those across our organization and league,” said Suns managing partner Robert Sarver. “Furthermore, he is instilling the same championship culture and standard that he experienced on multiple occasions as a player. I have the utmost confidence in James as the leader of our basketball operations moving forward, and we are aligned in the ultimate goal of one day bringing an NBA championship to Phoenix.”

Jones has spent the last two seasons as the Suns’ vice president of basketball operations, sharing general manager duties with Bukstein this past season where the two collaborated on trades which brought Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tyler Johnson to Phoenix. Since joining the Suns, Jones has lead the evaluation and evolution of team operations, and helped to build a stronger connection between the front office, players and team personnel. Jones joined the Suns’ front office in 2017 following 14 seasons as a player where he was a three-time NBA Champion and reached the NBA Finals in each of his final seven seasons. During his playing career, Jones was one of the top executives with the National Basketball Players Association, spending several years on the NBPA’s executive committee as secretary-treasurer.

As a player, Jones spent two seasons with the Suns and they were two of the most successful in franchise history as he was a member of the 2005-06 team that won 54 games and advanced to the Western Conference Finals, as well as the 2006-07 team that won 61 games and advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals. He contributed to two Pacific Division titles in his two seasons in Phoenix, averaging 7.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 151 regular-season games with the team while shooting 38.2% from three-point range.

Overall, Jones appeared in 709 career regular-season games and 148 career playoff games over 14 seasons with Indiana (2003-2005), Phoenix (2005-2007), Portland (2007-08), Miami (2008-2014) and Cleveland (2014-2017). He never played for a team that finished below .500 and only once missed the playoffs, winning NBA titles with the Heat in 2012 and 2013, and with the Cavaliers in 2016. A member of the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame, Jones starred collegiately for the Hurricanes while earning a degree in finance.

A veteran executive with over 30 years of basketball experience at the NBA and collegiate levels, Bower was most recently general manager of the Detroit Pistons from 2014-2018. During his time with the Pistons he revamped the team’s roster, leading to a breakthrough season in 2015-16 when the Pistons went 44-38 (their first time finishing over .500 since 2007-08) and qualified for the 2016 NBA Playoffs (their first postseason appearance since 2009). As Detroit’s general manager, Bower made a series of transactions including trades to acquire Tobias Harris and Reggie Jackson, the team’s two leading scorers in 2015-16’s return to the postseason. Bower later dealt a package centered on Harris to acquire Blake Griffin, who this season led the Pistons back to the Playoffs as he returned to the NBA All-Star Game for the first time since 2015.

“I’m thrilled to add an individual with Jeff’s experience and basketball acumen to our front office,” said Jones. “Jeff brings a wealth of knowledge in every facet of basketball operations, is of high character and well respected in league circles, and has a proven track record of influencing organizational success. His expertise in creating and executing a plan will be invaluable as we build our team moving forward.”

“Under James’ leadership and with the addition of Jeff, our front office is diverse and complimentary in their backgrounds and skillsets, yet entirely aligned in their selfless and hard-working approach,” added Sarver. “I am confident today’s announcement positions us strongly as we strive to shape the next great era of Phoenix Suns basketball.”

“I’m extremely appreciative of Robert and James for the opportunity to join the Suns organization,” said Bower. “We have a talented young team with great potential and a bright future ahead, so I’m anxious to get to work supporting James and the Phoenix Suns in every way I can.”

Bower had previously served two terms as general manager of the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets from 2001-2003 and 2005-2010. The Hornets made five postseason appearances during his time as general manager, highlighted by a franchise record 56 regular-season wins in 2007-08 and the first division title in team history before pushing the defending champion San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals. Following that season Bower finished third in voting for NBA Executive of the Year. During his tenures as general manager with the Hornets, Bower drafted two future NBA All-Stars in David West (18th in 2003) and Chris Paul (4th in 2005), and the team also drafted two future NBA All-Stars while he was director of scouting or assistant general manager with the team in Baron Davis (3rd in 1999) and Jamaal Magloire (19th in 2000).

He began his NBA career with the Hornets organization in 1995 as an advance scout then was promoted to director of scouting/assistant coach after two years. Bower was the team’s assistant general manager for the 2000-01 season before serving as general manager from 2001-2003. He was an assistant coach for the Hornets in 2003-04 and director of player personnel in 2004-05 before taking over as general manager again in 2005. In 2009-10, Bower served as New Orleans’ head coach for the final 73 games of the season, posting a 34-39 record.

Bukstein will remain assistant general manager with the Suns, a position he has held since 2013. In his role, Bukstein combines his knowledge in the interpretation and application of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, salary cap management, trade and contract negotiations and scouting with his proficiency as a talent evaluator.

Prior to becoming assistant general manager, Bukstein spent three seasons as the Suns’ director of basketball administration. He joined the Suns after six years as an athlete representation specialist at Williams and Connolly, LLP, where he assisted the sports law practice with its NBA, WNBA and MLB clients. Bukstein earned his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center following his undergraduate work at the University of Michigan.