Suns promote GM James Jones to President of Basketball Operations Report: James Harden, Khris Middleton nearing return to court Myles Turner says he’s staying focused, tuning out trade rumors Damian Lillard reportedly targeting Sunday for return from calf strain Bulls extended coach Billy Donovan before season started


James Jones put together the roster that took the Suns to the Finals two seasons ago and had the best record in the NBA last season (64 wins). This season, the Suns lead the Western Conference 13–6.

The Suns honored Jones by giving him the title of president of basketball operations outside of GM.

“In the nearly 15 years I’ve known James, he has excelled in every role he has filled, from player to NBPA Treasurer to his roles in our front office, most recently as CEO,” the Suns interim governor said. Sam Garvin. “James has a unique ability to build and lead high-performing basketball teams, and his commitment to working with our business, including at the senior executive level, with partners like PayPal and Verizon, is unmatched. We have been fortunate in his contribution to the organization and this promotion is a recognition of his commitment to excellence.”

Jones moved to the Suns front office in 2017 at the end of a 14-year playing career and then became general manager in 2019. The move gives Jones a bit more stability during the franchise sale. Not that the new owner came in and fired the successful GM.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to work with and support Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury players, staff and employees,” Jones said in a statement. “The collective efforts of our business and basketball operations have enabled us to create an amazing environment and best-in-class experience for our fans and community. I remain excited and committed to the success of our teams on and off the court.”

Jones made several moves that set the culture in Phoenix, including hiring Monty Williams as coach and then, after an undefeated run in the bubble (which left Phoenix fresh out of the playoffs), he led Chris Paul take charge at the point.

The two best teams in the East are about to regain their key stars.

Milwaukee was without Chris Middleton the entire season while he recovers from off-season wrist surgery. Philadelphia was without James Harden for a dozen games with a sprained tendon in the right leg. Both are close to making a comeback, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Milwaukee is 14-5 and second in the East, but they did so thanks to the best defense in the league, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo as well as Brooke Lopez. The Bucks’ offense is 18th overall in the league and 10th in half court possession, and Middleton should help establish himself in that area.

Philadelphia has gone 8-4 in the dozen games Harden has missed so far and has the best defense in the NBA this stretch. The question is whether the Sixers can continue to defend like this when Harden (and eventually Tyrese Maxi) returns? Players like B-Ball Paul Reid, Sheik Milton as well as Tobias Harris intensified in recent games, can they continue this by switching roles?

As long as there are questions, the Bucks and 76ers will get better soon, which should worry the rest of the league.

Miles Turner heard his name come up all summer in trade rumors, especially with the Lakers on a massive scale. Russell Westbrook change. This never happened as the Lakers did not field two first-round picks to seal the deal. Since the start of the season, trading rumors around Turner have not stopped, with the Clippers mentioning they are showing interest.

Turner tries to ignore it all.

This was especially difficult during a recent walk in Los Angeles. Turner talked about it with Lo Murray of The Athletic..

“Nothing changes,” Turner said. Athletic“Just go out there and focus on that team winning. This is exactly what I’m focused on. You can ignore the extraneous noise … it doesn’t change anything, bro. All I can do is go out and play my game.”

Every player says one version or another of this, but Turner justified it. Able to play his natural five position without Domantas Sabonis shared paint (Sabonis was sent to the kings on a deal that returned Tyrese Halliburton to Indiana), Turner is averaging 18 points and 8.5 rebounds per game while shooting 39.7% of 3. In addition, Turner remains an elite defenseman under the basket, averaging 2.6 blocks per game ( second place in the league).

Turner is playing the best basketball of his career, coincidentally, when he heads off into the summer as a free agent.

Whichever team trades him next summer will affect Turner’s trading market, as will the fact that the Pacers start unexpectedly 12-8 – Indiana is reportedly less eager to trade Turner. If the team wants to trade him, they’ll have to crush the Pacers.

Turner hinted that he likes the idea of ​​a brighter spotlight than he’s seen in recent years, but in the end, the money will speak. Turner kept his head down and his performance this season has brought him even more.

How Much the Portland Trail Blazers Miss Damian Lillard was showcased on Tuesday night in perhaps their ugliest loss of the season. The Trail Blazers led the way with 18 in the second half. Anferny Simons was on his way to posting 37 and they faced the Clippers without Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. Still Portland came forward to lose. Their defense was surpassed by the unstoppable offensive weapons of Nikolai Batum (32 points). Portland just let go of the rope in this one.

The Trail Blazers are now 1-4 with Lillard due to a calf strain (second time this year). The good news for the Blazers is that Lillard is looking to return Sunday against the Pacers, according to TNT’s Chris Haynes.

Haynes is well connected to the Lillard camp, this report can be trusted.

Portland is trying to stay afloat and is currently 11-10 points this season, but it had trouble playing with the Lakers and Jazz last week before Lillard’s scheduled return.

Lillard is averaging 26.3 points and seven assists per game this season, delivering the burst we’re used to seeing before he was slowed down by a stomach injury that required surgery.

Bulls fans aren’t thrilled that the team, with a 9-11 record, is 11th in the East, not counting the play-in.

The Bulls management doesn’t either, but they don’t put the blame on coach Billy Donovan – in fact, they extended it right before the start of the season, history. broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic and has since been confirmed by Bulls media relations staff at KC Johnson NBC Sports Chicago.

Why an extension? Because Donovan and the head of the basketball department, Arturas Karnishovas, have a close relationship, writes Johnson.

Karnishovas’ unwavering faith in Donovan is based on his leadership and communication skills. The two men talk almost daily, and there is never any misunderstanding in their common direct conversation, even when the topic becomes difficult.

And not everything was or remains smooth sailing for the Bulls, who played without Lonzo Ball from January and start from 9-11 in the season with modest external expectations.

No details on duration…