NBA team basketball executives named Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones as the 2020-21 NBA Executive of the Year.
This is the first time Jones has been given the honors, serving two years as the Suns’ general manager and four years total in the front office. James earned nine first-place votes and narrowly beat out Utah Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey 65-61.
Interestingly enough, Los Angeles Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka was completely left off the ballot. The Lakers finished seventh in the Western Conference and were eliminated in the first round by Jones’ Suns, but still put together a competitive roster that was overcome by injuries.
Pelinka had a successful offseason last year, trading Danny Green and their 2020 first-round pick for Dennis Schroder while also coming to terms on deals with Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews, and Marc Gasol. Pelinka and the Lakers also signed Andre Drummond after he was bought out midseason.
Here is how the full voting went down, via Ian Begley of SNYtv:
Below is the voting for the NBA Executive of the Year award. Suns GM James Jones won the award. Brooklyn’s Sean Marks finished third and New York’s Leon Rose finished fourth: pic.twitter.com/HsPRkDhrfv
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) June 20, 2021
This is not the first time Pelinka has been snubbed in the voting as he came in seventh place last year for the award despite trading for Anthony Davis. Los Angeles would go on to win the 2020 NBA Championship but that did not seem to earn him much respect among his peers.
Heading into this year’s offseason, Pelinka will be tasked with trying to re-sign players like Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker but should be able to retool the roster enough to get back to the NBA Finals.
Pelinka focused on winning banner No. 18
The Lakers fell short in their title defense, but everyone in the organization firmly believes they would have been able to win had injuries not derailed their season.
Pelinka has a tough task in the offseason in trying to retool the roster around James and Davis but noted that he and the rest of the front office are solely focused on raising another banner in Staples Center. “That has to be the goal every year and the only way to get there is with hard work,” Pelinka said.
“So of course we’ll learn from this season and from how the roster was constructed and we’ll apply that wisdom and experiences to what we do going forward. But the recipe is gonna be hard work and diving back into the process and really after today and the exit interviews, that work starts. We have an insatiable desire and passion to bring banner No. 18 here and we’re excited about the work we’re gonna commence tomorrow to get that done for our fans and for the organization.”
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