Lon Babby was on the radio yesterday at KTAR (now called Arizona Sports 620) for about a 28 minute in-studio interview. Babby talked about his plans for rebuilding the Phoenix Suns into an elite team.
My little buddy, Adam Green, did a good job writing up the interview here at ArizonaSports.com, so check that out:
Newsmakers Week: Babby asks for patience - ArizonaSports.com
Most expected better. Everyone wants better. And the plan to get better, Babby told Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf as part of Newsmakers Week, is in place.
"The first step in any plan is articulating what it is you're trying to accomplish, so what is it we're trying to accomplish," he asked. "We're aspiring to be an elite team."
You can listen to the full interview there as well which you should probably do if you want to be well-informed about the Suns.
There's a few things that stood out to me:
1) Babby once again said they wouldn't trade Nash unless he asked to be traded. This time, however, he explained that treating a player like Nash with respect and loyalty is beneficial to the Suns since it sends the right message to the rest of the league and future free agents. They believe it's important to make the Suns a "player-friendly" team.
2) Babby made it VERY CLEAR that while the Suns will have cap space this summer, they won't be pressured into spending it on the wrong players. He stressed being disciplined and that making the wrong move can set a team back for a long time.
Given the situation the Suns are in, that's the best thing we could hear.
3) Babby emphasized the need to focus on the draft and pointed out that the Suns only have two players on the roster they drafted (not counting Nash). He said the jury is still out on the Brooks deal that gave up a pick but that they need to "husband" their picks and also do a better job developing young players.
4) He asked fans for patience and you guys should know by know that I agree with this.
Suns fans are spoiled with a lot of success and bitter about not getting to the final promised land (that's me saying that, not him). Try and enjoy the ride and understand that along with past mistakes, this team did a lot of things well or they wouldn't have won so many games.
The past is the past and this team has been a lot of fun for a long time and now things are going to have to be rebuilt. It won't happen over night no matter what approach you favor. It comes down to making smart decisions and Babby asked for your patience in that process.
On another note, I spoke with Lon about the eight to 10 year time frame quoted for rebuilding from a "blow up". He explained that their research approach focused on teams since 1994 that traded or otherwise let their best player go and how long it took them to return to the conference finals.
They identified 15 teams that fit into those parameters with five returning to the conference finals in an average of 10.4 years.
He understood that there's different ways to look at the data and stressed that there's no guarantee regardless if what approach to rebuilding a team takes. It's hard to argue with that.
In this week's episode of the Sunscast hosts Byran Gibberman and Seth Pollack discuss the Suns three-game losing streak and what's going on in the second half of games.
We also get into the recent column in the Arizona Republic about the Suns rebuilding plans, talk about Marcin Gortat's defense, ponder why David Lee isn't a Sun, and spend a bit too much time talking about Jeremy Lin.
For such a big guy who likes to mix it up on defense and grab rebounds in traffic, it sometimes appears that Marcin Gortat is reluctant to draw contact when he has the ball in his hands. He will duck and weave and fade like a contortionist to get a clean, unfettered shot at the rim.
Heck, the Polish Hammer doesn't even seem interested in crowd-pleasing slam dunks. I don't believe I've ever seen a dunk in traffic from our Polish Hammer. Even when the defense parts like the red sea, he is more inclined put up a lefty layup than rattle the gym with a two-hander.
But maybe I'm biased. Maybe my NBA-colored glasses are tainted from years of watching high-flying, slam-dunking Amare Stoudemire roam the hardwood for the Suns, basically playing the same position that Gortat now occupies, and regularly dunking in traffic and on the pick and roll. Maybe I'm biased by memories of Shawn Marion getting dunks in transition and on back-door cuts. And certainly I'm biased by the sports network highlight reels.
In fact, a quick look at basketball-reference.com shows me evidence of my bias.
Gortat ranks 12th in the league among centers (C, C-F, F-C) in free-throw attempts per game, even though its a mere 3.8. That's nothing to sneeze at.
You might argue that some of those guys don't get the touches that Gortat gets, so of course they won't get the foul calls either. But even when you rank Gortat in terms of those centers with the highest field goal attempts per 36 minutes (ie. the most offense-oriented centers), Gortat still compares favorably.
So maybe I've just been harsh on Gortat because I was spoiled by Amare's ferociousness.
Instead, I should be thrilled with his consistent 15, 10 and 2 along with stellar defense, and stop waiting for the Hammer part of his nickname to emerge in the form of Amare Stoudemire.
Marcin's Hammer is his consistency - just like a carpenter's hammer. Every game is like a fresh nail. He pounds the floor, pounds the opposition and delivers the same results. 15 points. 10 rebounds. 2 blocks. Stellar defense.