Lon Babby and Ryan McDonough responded to Goran Dragic's comments regarding the Suns front office.
Typically when covering a press conference I don't take anything away of real significance. It's a show to say some clichés, keep a franchise in the news cycle and to try to generate some cheap fan excitement.
What happened at the U.S. Airways practice court Friday morning was on the opposite end of the spectrum. Phoenix Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby and general manager Ryan McDonough went to the podium with a message they wanted to get across and they made sure they did.
Usually these introductory pressers are speaking to the fan base, but this one wasn't anything like that. The Suns front office contingent spoke, in addition to the fans, to the players on the roster, players no longer on the roster, players around the league, agents and executives alike.
Front and center of the 30 something minutes back and forth with the media was guard Goran Dragic's comments stating " Yea. I don't trust (the Suns front office) anymore. It's happened too many times, two or three times. They give promises but you know, (shakes head)."
It's fair to say Babby and McDonough didn't take kindly to that assertion and they didn't hide their displeasure. Phoenix's president of basketball operations didn't wait for a question to address the topic; he discussed Dragic's slights in his opening statement.
"I wanted to offer a robust response to some of the comments made by Goran and his representatives," started Babby. "We have absolutely no problem and take no issue with his right to decide where he's gonna play when he becomes a free agent, and the role that he wants to have on the team that he's going to be playing for. That's his prerogative, his right and we fully respect that.
"What I personally take issue with however, are the unfair and I think unwarranted aspersions on our front office, and indirectly as an organization as a whole. In all my years as a professional, as a lawyer, as an agent, as an executive -- I've learned that the only thing you have at the end of the day is your integrity and your trustworthiness. It has always been my view that I will operate at the highest levels of professionalism and integrity, and those people that work with me will operate in the same fashion. I'm confident that we do that.
"In the last year and a half we've made remarkable progress thanks to the work of Ryan, our front office, Jeff and his coaching staff. That doesn't happen without bold moves and hard moves. If some of those moves ruffled Goran's feathers so be it. We won't ever apologize for trying to get better and improve this team. We've made tremendous progress going from 25 wins to 48 wins last year, and solidifying and consolidating that progress this year. I'm very proud of our organization top to bottom.
"I think we are among the most professional and trust worthy organizations and that reflects well on our ownership, on our fans, on our community and most importantly on each and every person who works in this organization. With that we wish Goran good luck in Miami."
If the discussion regarding the past ended with that statement most wouldn't have thought much of it going forward. The Suns organization defended themselves, as they needed to after Dragic's blunt thoughts, but they did it in a manner that wouldn't have caused much commotion.
Well, that wasn't all. Just like Dragic spoke his (or maybe his agents) mind, the Suns front office didn't hold much back as they continued.
"Every move we make is with the goal of getting the Phoenix Suns to a championship level," said McDonough. "Sometimes players view that as a good thing, I think they usually do, the good ones do. But sometimes players get a little selfish and are more worried about I, me and my then us, our and we."
After getting sidetracked in his statement, McDonough went on to continue with:
"I guess I conclude my initial remarks by saying this is a team sport. We're looking for team first guys. This isn't singles tennis. The guys who will be here are the guys that buy in and play the right way. Those who don't will be gone. I think with our actions we showed we're not afraid to shake up or turn over the roster. It's certainly not our preference to do that and I feel like we're getting closer and closer to a team and a core that is pretty good and sustainable long term. We're not going to stop until we get it right."
From all indications the Suns wanted Dragic to be around long-term. If he would have came to them before the trade deadline and told them I'm going to re-sign, Dragic is suiting up in purple and orange tonight when they face the Timberwolves.
Ironically, the Suns went in the direction I had been pushing them to go, but it wasn't by their choice. Was Dragic actually selfish or was he selfish because he made negative comments about the front office and no longer wanted to play for the organization?
I think McDonough is a fantastic general manager and will get this team where they want to go in time. Was it necessary to break out zingers like (no matter how funny I thought it was or the fact I actually agree with the sentiment) "we've heard a lot of complaints from fans and media that we traded our best player and my response to that is I think Markieff Morris and Eric Bledsoe are still in Phoenix Suns' uniforms. They're still here."
The theme of selfish and chemistry was something very apparent as McDonough and Babby spoke. This is something I like to avoid in writing because there is no way to truly decipher what's going on. When Dragic ripped the front office he had reason to twist his voice in a certain way, much like Babby and McDonough did to convey their perspective.
The Suns tried to accomplish a goal this offseason and it fell short. Bringing in Isaiah Thomas, a move I supported and still believe was the right decision, didn't work. Putting two and two together he wasn't happy with his role as he was shipped out of town despite being on a team friendly contract for someone of his talent level.
The specific reasons this group wasn't able to mesh and form a cohesive unit is a question we will most likely never get a full answer to.
The ripple effect of how Lon Babby and Ryan McDonough decided to address the shortcomings of what they tried to build is something we will find out about in the future.