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2021 PBT Awards: Executive of the Year

Suns executive James Jones

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 30: General Manager James Jonesof the Phoenix Suns speaks during media day on September 30, 2019 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Kurt Helin

1. James Jones (Suns)

2. Sean Marks (Nets)

3. Sam Presti (Thunder)

James Jones deserves credit for far more than just getting Chris Paul (although that helped), it was all his moves over a couple of seasons to build a new culture and winning team in Phoenix. Hiring Monty Williams was a big part of that (even if that was a couple of years ago, he gets credit).

Sean Marks was aggressive and traded for James Harden, turning Brooklyn into the “if they can just stay healthy” NBA title favorites. Marks spent years building a foundation with the most difficult turn-around project in the NBA, but when it became time to pivot and go after big names, he was fearless and successful. Presti has been a master at starting a rebuild in Oklahoma City and has stockpiled a seemingly countless number of picks. He deserves a lot of credit for the job he has done preparing the foundation of what is next in OKC.

Dan Feldman

1. James Jones (Suns)

2. Sam Presti (Thunder)

3. Daryl Morey (76ers)

The Chris Paul trade was a home run for the Suns and savvy for the Thunder. That deal is the main reason James Jones and Sam Presti top this ballot.

Phoenix is already having its most satisfying season in more than a decade. Paul has provided so much value, especially in a winning culture Jones helped create. Beyond the big move, Jones did well to lure Jae Crowder for the mid-level exception, claim Frank Kaminsky off waivers and trade cash for Torrey Craig. The potential blemish: Drafting Jalen Smith No. 10, though it’s far too early to declare a verdict on that pick.

Presti expertly directed the Thunder into rebuilding. Oklahoma City is loaded with draft picks. New coach Mark Daigneault looks promising – except the coach was so good, he interfered with tanking.

Both Daryl Morey and Nets general manager Sean Marks upgraded their teams’ championship chances. But Morey surrendered far less in the process. Though Brooklyn’s title odds are higher with James Harden, so is the franchise’s combustibility with so many outgoing picks.