It seems like it's been a while since the Phoenix Suns had an offseason many would consider to be "good," but the one the franchise is in the midst of would seem to qualify.
Following the hires of Ryan McDonough as general manager and then Jeff Hornacek as coach, the team went and selected Maryland center Alex Len, Kentucky guard Archie Goodwin and Missouri forward Alex Oriakhi in the draft. Then, to top it all off, they swung a deal that sent Jared Dudley for L.A. Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Caron Butler.
While unlikely to bring the franchise its first championship in 2013-14, the team does appear to be a step closer to relevance. But, according to President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby, the first steps to this rebuilding project were taken long before this summer.
"A lot of what's happening now is a function of what happened before," he told Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Wednesday.
Babby said the trade for Bledsoe and Butler does not happen if the team hadn't signed Dudley to a contract extension a couple years ago, added an extra draft pick via the Sebastian Telfair trade last season or managed their salary cap to the point where the team could absorb Butler's $8 million cap hit.
"I think a lot of what you're seeing is the product of some careful planning over the course of the last three years," he said. "But having said that, I would also say that I feel really good about where we are, the changes in our staff, the changes in our coaching staff, our front office staff."
Babby, who will be entering his fourth season at the helm, has overseen one of the worst stretches in franchise history. The Suns have failed to reach the postseason in each of the last three seasons, and won just 25 games last season. Mistakes have been made, sure, but that does not mean mistakes will always be made.
"You know, it's not often in life you get a second chance at something like this so I'm greatly appreciative of that and I think I've learned to do the job better and there's more clarity in our roles and so there are a lot of reasons why I think we're off to a good start," he said. "But we haven't won any games yet and we have a long, long way to go so it's a little premature to congratulate us."
At the same time, it does please Babby to see some beginning to believe that this front office, through all its struggles, may be figuring things out.
"Obviously we've made some decisions that have been roundly criticized, in some cases properly so and other cases I'm not so sure," he said. "But we're in a public business where we're anxious to have our customers and our fans feel good about us and have optimism and hope for the future.
"Of course we want to make decisions that the public embraces and I'm delighted that they have kind of a newfound confidence in Ryan and Jeff, and that's very, very important to us because we're selling hope and we're selling optimism."
Babby added that he knows the franchise is still looking up with a ways to go, but having support along the way will be "very, very helpful."