On the day the Phoenix Suns played their first Western Conference finals game in more than a decade, Suns general manager James Jones was honored as the league’s Executive of the Year.
In a tight vote, which is conducted by the league’s executives, Jones got nine first-place votes and had 65 total points, just edging out Utah Jazz vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey, who also had nine first-place votes and finished with 61 points.
Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks finished third with five first-place votes and 51 points, while several other executives — including Leon Rose (Knicks), Tim Connelly (Nuggets), Travis Schlenk (Hawks), Mitch Kupchak (Hornets), Sam Presti (Thunder) and Neil Olshey (Blazers) each received at least one first-place vote.
Jones, who took over as the team’s head of basketball operations in 2018, was part of the brain trust that built the foundation of this Phoenix team, which broke through after missing the playoffs for the entire past decade. The Suns finished this season with the NBA’s second-best record and advanced past the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets in the first two rounds of the playoffs before hosting the LA Clippers in Game 1 of the West finals Sunday afternoon.
Since taking over in Phoenix, Jones has made a series of moves to get the Suns to where they are now, beginning with hiring Monty Williams as coach prior to last season. Then Jones beat several teams to the punch to sign free agent Jae Crowder, giving Phoenix the rugged two-way forward it needed alongside young stars Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton in the frontcourt. He then made the blockbuster move of the offseason to acquire Chris Paul to give the young Suns the on-court leadership and organization they needed.
The NBA concluded its offseason awards program this past week, having handed out the six individual awards — Most Valuable Player (Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic), Defensive Player of the Year (Jazz center Rudy Gobert), Sixth Man of the Year (Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson), Rookie of the Year (Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball), Most Improved Player (New York Knicks forward Julius Randle) and Coach of the Year (Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau) — as well as the All-NBA, All-Rookie and All-Defensive Teams.