Tag:Lon Babby
Posted on: July 28, 2011 8:35 pm

The Nash Conundrum and the struggle to rebuild

By Matt Moore

Consider it a question of morality. Yes, the business implications are strong. But at the end of the day, sometimes the best thing your business can do is conduct itself in the right way. It opens up partnerships, keeps your company in good standing, and boosts morale. So in this instance, despite how contrary to rational thought it seems, doing the right thing here is what's best for business.

The Phoenix Suns should do the right thing, and trade Steve Nash.

It's not a new idea; it's been discussed in length. But it bears repeating, and a look at the economic reasons why.

In the Arizona Republic, Suns GM Lon Babby is quoted as having studied the impact of rebuilding on franchises. The results were not pretty.
Babby and other team officials have examined the history of teams that, like the Suns, stalled at the conference-finals level and then had to decide whether to keep their core players together or tear up the roster. What they discovered: Teams that embarked on a massive rebuilding project took an average of 10 years to get back to the conference finals.

"And there's a lot of pain that goes into it," Babby said. "You're putting yourself in the hands of ping pong balls."
via azcentral.com blogs - Scott Bordow - Business factors into Nash decision.

This is relatively obvious logic. You mean tearing down the remnants of the success that you've built and suffering through years of failure in order to build around draft picks which are only acquired with a terrible record is painful? How about touching a hot iron with your bare hand? That sting a bit?
Little sensitive, just around the edges?

Of course rebuilding is painful. If it wasn't, everyone would go through with it a lot more and be much more excited about it. Also, no one would get fired over it, which would save franchises several millions of dollars in paying out the remainder of contracts. Not, you know, $300 million to prevent the lockout,but hey, every penny helps.

But what's overlooked in the study is this.

Everyone has to rebuild. Death comes to us all, and the end of contention comes to every team. The Lakers actually went through a near decade without contention in the 90's. Granted, they've spent the rest of the time pretty much skirting the laws of inevitability, but you can't expect the Lakers to play by the rules the rest of the NBA observes. They're just special. The Mavericks have contended for ten years, and finally won their title, which will likely convince Babby to hang on. But the Mavericks had the same management in place (read: Cuban), and benefitted from a series of fortunate events. They never missed the playoffs. The Suns are not the Mavs. 

No, instead the Suns face a worse situation. There is a scenario considerably worse than rebuilding, purgatory. It's when teams elect to continue trying to plug in pieces following the downslide of a roster, continually throwing veterans who can no longer contribute at the level of their prime but suck up the same amount of salary space, or mid-level players hoping one will suddenly bloom into an All-Star. It's expensive, it's ineffective, and it usually has the habit of depressing fans to the point where they bail on tickets. 

(Orlando fans, you'll want to get something for that ear bleed you have going.)

That's what slows down rebuilding projects. Yes, rebuilding takes a long time and is painful, if you do it ineffectively. Meanwhile, if you commit to it, if you throw your system into it, within three years you have a team that people are excited about that makes the playoffs. It's not just the Thunder, it's countless teams that have effectively restructured their rosters. Rebuilding is like anything else. If you do it poorly, you won't be pleased with the results. 

Keeping Nash guarantees that fans will keep coming out to see the team, until the team gets bad enough to where not even that impresses them. It keeps the Suns following ideas like "let's trade for Vince Carter and Marcin Gortat, that'll save us!" and "maybe when we get lots of cap room we can get a big free agent to play with Steve Nash, someone like Amar'e Stoude...oh." It also wastes the final years of a Hall of Fame player who has given the franchise nothing but his unending loyalty and MVP performances. Moving Nash kills two birds. It lights a fire under the franchise to find a new direction, even if that takes some time to pull off, and it does right by affording him an opportunity to pull a Jason Kidd and win a ring in his final years to cement his legacy. 

Sometimes the right thing is the best move, even if it hurts to do it. 
Category: NBA
Posted on: July 6, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 7:30 pm

Former No. 2 overall pick Armen Gilliam dies

Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver.

Armen Gilliam, a former No. 2 overall pick of the Phoenix Suns in 1987, died Wednesday. He was 47.

Police say Gilliam collapsed of a heart attack while playing basketball at LA Fitness in Collier Township, Penn. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead.

Gilliam, nicknamed "The Hammer," starred at UNLV on the 1987 team that won a record 38 games and made it to the Final Four.

Over at CBSSports.com's Eye on College Basketball, Matt Norlander notes that he leaves a big legacy in Las Vegas.
At Vegas, Gilliam was the seventh-highest scorer in school history. He put up 1,855 points in his three-year career, and scored a still-standing record of 903 points in the Final Four season of 1986-87. The team was 93-11 while he was there. He averaged 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds as a Runnin' Rebel.

"I'm all shook up," former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian told the Las Vegas Sun today. "He was such a great person. He would take the shirt of his back for you."

Besides the Suns, he also played for the Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz. He retired in 2000.

On Wednesday afternoon, Phoenix Suns president Lon Babby issued the following statement.
“On behalf of the entire Phoenix Suns family, I’d like to express our sadness at the news of the passing of Armen Gilliam and offer our condolences to his family.  Armen will always have a place in Suns history as only the second No. 2 overall pick for the franchise, but the rugged, tough enforcer known as ‘The Hammer’ on the court will be remembered by his former teammates and our fans for his easygoing nature off the court.”
Gilliam briefly ended his retirement, playing for the Pittsburgh Xplosion (Gilliam is from Pittsburgh), an expansion team in the American Basketball Association, in the 2005-2006 season. He was also the team's coach.
In his 13 NBA seasons, Gilliam, a 6-9 forward, averaged 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He was always one of the most powerful, physical players in the league, hence the nickname "The Hammer." He was a strong dunker, and while he never really lived up to his draft position, he had a solid 13-year NBA career.

And finally, a did you know: Gilliam's first name was spelled Armon in college and first few years in the NBA, but he later changed it to Armen.

Posted on: January 7, 2011 6:51 pm

Steve Nash sounds confident Suns won't trade him

Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash has found his name in trade rumors, but he sounds confident that he won't be moved. steve-nash Posted by Ben Golliver.

While Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash has traded shoe companies, he sounds pretty confident that he won't be switching NBA teams prior to this year's trade deadline.

Earlier this week, we noted a report that said the Suns were "on the fence" about rebuilding, and a full-scale rebuild would involve moving Nash, who is earning $10.3 million this season and $11.7 next season. That number will make him the team's highest paid player in 2011-2012, assuming the Suns buy out the last year of Vince Carter's partially guaranteed contract as expected.

Asked by the Arizona Republic about the trade talk this week, Nash makes it sound like he's not going anywhere, and he cites conversations with Phoenix's GM, Lon Babby, as the reason.  
"He (Babby) told me a month ago when it first sprung up that he had no plans to move me," Nash said.
"I signed up for this," Nash said. "I'm committed to trying to build a team here. Obviously, last year was a phenomenal year. Tied 2-2 (in the conference finals), I thought we could win a championship. I genuinely believed we could and would win it. It's tough to be in this position six months later. I'm still committed to it. I love the guys. I think we've got potential but we've had so much change and haven't been able to put it together. If we want to point fingers, we've got to point some at ourselves and say, 'We haven't put it together.'
"I'm still happy."
Nash says he is still happy, but his on-court body language has often hinted to the contrary. That's no surprise: this season has been a huge letdown for the Suns and their fans, following last year's deep playoff run.

If Nash isn't on the block, though, Babby's hands are tied a lot tighter when it comes to possible trades. He already shipped out one summer acquisition -- forward Hedo Turkoglu -- and two others -- Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick -- haven't exactly worked out. What the market is for those two players is unclear, though, and it's doubtful that Phoenix has any other pieces that they would be willing to part with that anyone else would want.   

Still, Nash's words are surely comforting to the Phoenix faithful who, by and large, would prefer that he stays rather than goes. If it boils down to a choice between struggling with Nash and struggling without Nash, that's not a very difficult decision for Suns management and fans.
Posted on: September 23, 2010 5:51 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2010 6:22 pm

Suns extend Gentry

Who's got two thumbs and an extension through 2012-2013? Suns extend head coach after return to playoffs despite roster turnover.
Posted by Matt Moore

The fast break will continue in Phoenix. The Suns today announced an extension for head coach Alvin Gentry. The Suns under Gentry improved considerably, returning to their running and gunning ways on the path to the Western Conference Finals. Despite the departure of Amar'e Stoudemire in free agency and the looming issue of Steve Nash's age, the Suns felt that Gentry's the guy, and extended him through 2012-2013.

The Suns are 72-41 under Gentry, which ain't too bad at all, especially given the dismal performance they suffered under head coach Terry Porter in their attempt to become more traditional in their approach. With the economy still sluggishly working its way out of the doldrums, extending Gentry is a wise move from owner Robert Sarver. Committing to Gentry may mean more money on salary, but it also means stability and a tried and true formula that may suffer from problems (eventually) in the playoffs, but does win lots and lots of games. Gentry also managed to make the most convincing case for a running team to be able to buckle down and play hard-nosed defense.

The deal may have been done sooner had the replacement GM and President of Basketball Ops jobs not taken so long to fill, before eventually Lon Babby and Lance Blanks were brought on board.

Posted on: July 21, 2010 8:12 am
Edited on: July 21, 2010 10:31 am

Shootaround 7.21.10

Posted by Matt Moore
  • Andrew Bynum's knee surgery has been sheduled for July 28th , after being postponed from July 18th. The surgery is to repair a small tear in the meniscus he played through in the playoffs. Complications are unlikely, but Bynum does have a significant injury of not snapping back from surgery.
  • SB Nation Arizona's Seth Pollack lays out the Suns' plan for the future . The hiring of Lon Babby and all of their short-term, mid-size contracts they've added are all part of a strategy to set themselves up for "the big trade" whenever that may be and whoever that may be for. It's a smart play if you have the money and patience for it. Owner Robert Sarver does not have the patience for the draft-heavy Blazers/Thunder approach and doesn't like rebuilding. It does fall in line with a thought process I tend to agree with, which is that there are always good players available if you're aggressive enough to get them. We've seen Al Jefferson moved in the last month. You just have to seize the opportunity. But with Steve Nash continuing into his mid-30s, time may be short for the window of opportunity before a true rebuilding era is needed.
  • It would not surprise me at all to see Alonzo Gee as the Spurs' starting small forward in a few years. Gee has an NBA frame, explosion, touch, range, and athleticism. The gaps in his game are hard to identify, even if he's incapable of taking over a game.
  • Ben Gordon was in Vegas scouting as parting of the Players Association's leadership and development program, preparing himself or a career in basketball when his playing time is done. No word on if he put negative comments around every player that did not shoot 20 times a game regardless of the offense's context.
Posted on: July 12, 2010 1:53 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 2:14 pm

Raptors and Suns and Bobcats, Oh My!

Posted by Matt Moore

So this big ol' series of trades went down late last night , and it's now evolving into something even more complex (KB has the rundown ). Here's the rundown for you for where we're at, with pieces still moving. We'll keep you updated, but as it stands:

Suns get: Hedo Turkoglu
              Josh Childress

Raptors get: Leandro Barbosa
                   Boris Diaw
                   Tyson Chandler

Bobcats get:
Jose Calderon
                   Dwayne Jones

Hawks get: Trade exception

Okay, then. Glad you boys were able to find ways to amuse yourselves. Let's break it down team by team.

Suns: This is an incredibly complex deal for them with lots of variables and moving parts. To simplify. Hedo Turkoglu still has some life left in him and the magical healing powers in Phoenix could do wonders for him, but putting him at power forward could be outright disastrous and it otherwise creates a traffic jam at the wing. This is all besides the fact that he's really expensive. Childress on the other hand is a steal, who can run point forward, play from the wing, hit from the perimeter, is young, versatile, and is a tremendous pickup, especially at the sign-and-trade price they're getting him at.

The angle that gets really bizarre in this whole thing? The Suns have been reportedly pursuing agent Lon Babby for their general manager position. Okay, kind of a step outside the box, but nothing too weird. Except who are two of Babby's clients?

Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu.

Well, then. This rabbit hole seems to go a ways down. But all in all, this is a strong effort from the Suns who have given themselves options and depth with their moves after Amar'e. While they're definitely going to lose some punch, they may have acquired enough to stay in the race in the West, provided Steve Nash keeps being, you know, Steve Nash.

Raptors: You want a rebuilding project? Brian Colangelo will show you  a rebuilding project! If Colangelo is able to get both of these deals he will have moved over $71 million in assets between Calderon and Turkoglu in under 12 hours, taking on $45 million for a defensive center who can actually rebound (when healthy), a versatile combo-forward-center, and a speedy 2-guard that can provide sixth man punch.

When you rebuild a team, you have to gut it. You can't wait around hoping to turn your piecemeal collection of underachieving assets into something good with the right additions, unless they're very young (Thunder). You take your biggest remaining contract and you ditch it. Then you take your next biggest contract and you try and ditch it. Then you fill in with talented guys at the end of their deals looking to hit free agency.

And that's what BC has done here. He hasn't brought in a savior, but he's brought on good players with short term deals. Chandler in particular will be the most attractive expiring contract on the market this year at $12.6 million. Barbosa has a player option for 2011 which he may exercise, depending on the CBA and how this year goes. And Diaw also has an expiring at 9 million. He hasn't just cut payroll with these moves while bringing in talent to tide the team over, he's done it in such a way as to give him even more tradeable assets.

Meanwhile, in shocking news, this team won't be able to defend anyone. As bad as they were on defense last year, and they were bad , they might be worse this season. Chandler hasn't proven he can stay healthy and his impact has been limited since New Orleans. Barbosa and Diaw are sieves and they lost their best defender in Bosh. But with Amir Johnson, there's some hope, along with Weems and DeRozan.

Bobcats: The team that rebuilds through trade keeps rolling along. Continuing a pattern of consistent trading throughout Larry Brown's time with the team, the Bobcats have moved yet another series of components in order to fill needs. Moving Chandler and Diaw makes room for Tyrus Thomas and cuts down their payroll while adding an actual legit point guard in Calderon. It does create some shallow depth down low, but also fills an immediate need at point guard with Raymond Felton dishing to Amar'e Stoudemire in New York. This isn't a coup, but it cuts salary and brings in offense, two things that Charlotte desperately needed.

Larry Brown is proving that you don't have to draft well to improve your team. There's more than one way to.. er, skin a cat.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com