Phoenix Suns promote Bubba Burrage, hire Courtney Witte to run scouting department
by Dave King
Over the past two years, the Phoenix Suns have changed the structure of their basketball operations department, starting with new GM Ryan McDonough and two do-it-all Assistant GMs in Pat Connelly and Trevor Bukstein.
Now, Ryan and the Assistant GMs have shuffled the deck around them as Lon Babby takes a step back to a Senior Advisor role.
Bubba Burrage has been promoted to Director of Player Personnel, to replace John Treloar, while Courtney Witte was hired as Director of Scouting (new title in Suns org) and Antonio Williams was added as a scout.
Pat Connelly explained the difference between Director of Player Personnel and Director of Scouting for me.
"[Bubba] will lead our NBA scouting efforts and continue to run the Bakersfield Jam," Assistant GM Pat Connelly says. "Bubba has done a great job and his responsibilities will continue to grow."
Burrage is a long-time scout for the Suns who has moved up the ranks steadily, and now takes over the title recently vacated by John Treloar. Treloar was hired under the old regime by Lance Blanks without any NBA experience at any level, but remained with the Suns for five years in that role including the last two under McDonough.
"Courtney comes on as Director of Scouting and his focus will be more draft focused - college and international," Pat Connelly explained. "All of our guys dabble in all areas of scouting (pro, college, minor league, international) and Courtney will also continue to evaluate pro players as well (which he did for the Clippers last year). He will be based in Philadelphia and will have a plethora of games (at all levels) at his door step."
Witte has nearly twenty years' experience in the scouting field, 13 of those in a Director position. He has long resume in the scouting world.
The Suns are definitely beefing up their scouting department from prior to the McDonough era. McDonough still performs a ton of scouting himself, as does Assistant GM Pat Connelly. Bubba Burrage came on as a scout and previously moved into the role of D-League GM, which still provides plenty of scouting opportunities in an operational role.
Last month, the Phoenix Suns announced the departure of their Director of Player Personnel, John Treloar. Treloar was one of the last remaining major players in the Basketball Operations department from the Lance Blanks era.
Treloar had been plucked out of the D-League by former GM Lance Blanks to head the Player Personnel operations, responsible for scouting at all levels, including college, pros and international. Treloar had not previously held an NBA position in any capacity.
Treloar remained in that position until last month, the last two years under Ryan McDonough and his revamped front office. McDonough had lauded Treloar's work in draft preparation, including planning and executing all the pre-draft workouts.
Now, Treloar has moved on as the Suns make changes to their scouting structure.
You've already seen and heard of coaching staff changes this summer. Head coach Jeff Hornacek and his two lead assistants, Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting, remain, but the rest of the staff has undergone some changes.
Earl Watson gets his first coaching gig this year, while Corey Gaines has been promoted from player development to a full time assistant position. Nate Bjorkgren, who led the Jam to the playoffs last year, is now the Player Development Coordinator for the Suns, while Jason Fraser has been added as an assistant. Irving Roland remains on the player development staff.
On a final very positive note, the Training Staff Mafia remains entirely intact, having been re-signed last summer to long term deals.