James Jones has received criticism in some circles for how he's approached his job as interim general manager of the Phoenix Suns, but he says he's focused on the players with the franchise.
Jones and Trevor Bukstein are interim co-general managers. Jones says the division of labor in the Suns' front office is well-defined. Bukstein is the primary contact for transactions, which is a break from the norm in the NBA.
"There's a perception of what a GM is and what a GM does, that you have to log the hours and open up the laptop. I've never purported to be that guy," Jones said. "I think it would diminish what Trevor does. He's a star when it comes to the cap, scenario planning, contracts and negotiations. And he's been really good the whole time he's been here. We have different responsibilities. My primary focus has been to manage and improve the performance and relationships within our different units: our coaching, performance team, development. The players -- that has been my focus."
Jones hasn't been on the road scouting college players as frequently as most of his peers despite the Suns owning a high lottery pick this June.
"The perception here is that we lose a lot of games, draft in the top five and keep drafting, so we should focus on scouting every player who comes across the board, leave no stone unturned," Jones said. "You can only draft young guys for so long. If you're continuing to draft in the top five it's because the guys you're drafting aren't good, or it can be that the guys you're drafting are good, but you just aren't developing your young prospects."
Jones has received praise for deftly mediating issues with agents and he's also helped modernize the Suns' training facilities.