Suns name Morgan Cato assistant GM, VP of basketball operations

The Phoenix Suns named Morgan Cato assistant general manager and vice president of basketball operations, the team announced Monday.

With the hire, Cato becomes the first woman of color in NBA history to be an assistant GM.

“We’re excited to welcome Morgan to the Valley and to the Suns organization,” Suns General Manager James Jones said via a press release. “With the league office Morgan played a pivotal role on countless initiatives to grow the game and strategically develop for it to be played at its best. The addition of her background and knowledge will allow us to elevate our basketball operations in several areas.”

According to the team, Cato will report to Jones and work with Head Coach Monty Williams to lead the team’s strategy and business processes for basketball growth and performance with a focus on coaching development, player engagement and front office personnel operations. Cato becomes the first woman of color to hold the Assistant General Manager title for an NBA team. 

Cato joins the Suns after spending the last decade with the NBA league office, most recently as Associate Vice President of Business Operations for NBA League Operations. 

Suns’ owner on James Jones: ‘We’re fortunate to have a great basketball mind leading this team’

The Phoenix Suns extended the contract of General Manager James Jones, the team announced Tuesday.

“We’re fortunate to have a great basketball mind leading this team. James not only has tremendous instinct for identifying talent, but he has an innate ability to compose a roster that is deep with complementary players who make each other better, on and off the court,” said Managing Partner Robert Sarver. “He came in with strongly-held beliefs on what it would take to nurture a championship culture and what it should mean to wear a Suns jersey. We promised fans an elite NBA franchise that would steal their hearts and make them proud and that’s what we have built under James’ leadership.”

Winner of the 2021 NBA Executive of the Year Award, Jones is currently in his third full season in the position as the Suns sit atop the NBA standings with a 37-9 record. After officially being named general manager following the 2018-19 season, Jones engineered a basketball rise that saw the Suns become just the third team since the NBA-ABA merger to jump from a bottom two record to one of the league’s top two records in two seasons or less, completing the ascension with Western Conference and Pacific Division titles in 2020-21. Since entering ‘The Bubble’ in the summer of 2020, the Suns hold the league’s best regular season mark at 96-30 (.762).

“It’s a privilege to support our Suns and Mercury players, staff, employees and our fans,” said Jones. “The Valley is a special place and I’m excited for the future.”

In one of Jones’ first moves as general manager, and maybe his best move, was hiring Monty Williams as head coach, and the Suns jumped from 19 wins to 34 in Jones and Williams’ first season together, then to 51 wins in the second season and are currently on a 66-win pace this season.

Earlier this season, the Suns set a franchise record with an 18-game winning streak after setting a team playoff record by winning nine straight during the run to the NBA Finals last postseason.

Suns’ GM: ‘Devin Booker is undoubtedly an NBA All Star’

Not everybody can make an All-Star team, and each and every year, players get snubbed, which could be the case with Suns G Devin Booker. In 44 games, Booker is averaging 27.1 PPG(8th in NBA), 6.4 APG, and 4.1 RPG. Those are All-Star caliber numbers, but unfortunately, he got snubbed.

On Thursday, the NBA announced the All-Star reserves, and Booker was noticeably absent from the list of Western Conference All-Star reserves, and according to Suns GM James Jones, that should not be the case.

“I’ve played with and against multiple All-Stars in this league, and Devin Booker is undoubtedly an NBA All-Star,” Jones said after the All-Star reserves were announced. 

The coaches choose the All-Star reserves, which must be composed of two guards, three front-court players and two wild-card picks from either position group.

Booker was probably beaten out by players such as OKC’s Chris Paul, Houston’s Russell Westbrook, Portland’s Damian Lillard, and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell. You could make a legitimate argument that Booker deserves the nod over one of those four guys.

However, other than the Blazers, who are just a 1/2 game up on the Suns in the standings, the Thunder, Rockets, and Jazz all have had much better team success this season.   

Sometimes these things have a way of working themselves out, but for now, Booker is on the outside looking in.

List of 2020 Western Conference All-Star reserves:

  • Rudy Gobert, Jazz (1st All-Star selection)

  • Brandon Ingram, Pelicans (1st All-Star selection)

  • Nikola Jokić, Nuggets (2nd All-Star selection)

  • Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (5th All-Star selection)

  • Donovan Mitchell, Jazz (1st All-Star selection)

  • Chris Paul, Thunder (10th All-Star selection)

  • Russell Westbrook, Rockets (9th All-Star selection)]

Suns GM Jones: ‘Monty Williams and I are disappointed in the actions by Deandre Ayton’

On Thursday, the NBA announced that Phoenix Suns C Deandre Ayton was suspended 25 games for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. The former number overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft tested positive for a diuretic, which have been known to hide PED usage.

Phoenix Suns General Manager James Jones released the following statement on Ayton’s suspension:

“On behalf of the Phoenix Suns organization, Monty Williams and I are disappointed in the actions by Deandre Ayton that led to his testing positive for a banned diuretic and subsequent suspension by the NBA. This does not uphold the standards and principles we have set for the team.”

“Deandre has expressed his deepest remorse. While he is suspended we remain committed to his growth and development on and off the court. His actions are not taken lightly, and we are committed to ensuring that Deandre understands the profound impact it has had on the team, organization, and Suns community.”

Earlier tonight, Deandre Ayton released the following statement:

“I want to apologize to my family, the entire Suns organization, my teammates, partners, our fans and the Phoenix community. This was an unintentional mistake and unfortunately I put something in my body that I was completely unaware of. I do understand the unfortunate impact that this has on so many others, and for that I am deeply sorry. I’m extremely disappointed that I’ve let my team down. I will continue to work with the Players’ Union (NBPA) to go through the arbitration process and am hopeful for a positive resolution.”