Phoenix Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby said something interesting on Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Wednesday.
Actually, he said a lot of interesting things, but something really stood out.
“I look at the big picture. From where we were when we came here to where we are now is the way I view it. People want to take a snapshot of where we are this week, or in the last 72 hours, they’re going to have a very distorted view,” he told the hosts.
“We’ve gone through and I think, and I’ve said it before, a very respectful transition period, allowing the previous era, the Steve Nash era, as great as it was, to run its course. We almost squeezed the last one or two playoff berths out of it. People criticized us for not making moves to start over sooner, now that we’re in the process of starting over sooner they wish we were winning more and doing more.”
Babby was trying to explain why fans should have patience with the franchise, adding that the Suns’ future includes a good amount of draft picks and cap space with which to rebuild. However, patience is earned, not given.
Then again, in a way Babby is right; the rebuilding process is underway, and the team is well-positioned to acquire some quality pieces in the coming years.
However, where Babby is wrong is in giving himself and the franchise credit for the last couple of seasons. Were the final two years of Steve Nash respectful? Sure. Were they productive? Not really.
And because of that, fans simply don’t trust this front office to get the job done.
If fans are to judge Babby and GM Lance Blanks from the time they took over — as Babby requests they do — all they can see is a team that has missed the playoffs two straight seasons and is currently heading towards a third trip to the lottery. Many folks — myself included — believed the team needed to bottom out before it could ascend back towards the top. The team is doing that now, albeit unintentionally, but that’s not the issue.
What is the issue is people don’t view the final Nash years in the same light the front office does. What Babby sees as a “respectful transition period” fans and basketball minds see as the slow bleeding out of a once-proud franchise. Similar to taking a Band-Aid off, it’s better to just do it quickly rather than slowly. It’s going to be painful no matter how you do it, so make it quick and move on. Babby and co. elected to let things slowly deteriorate, leading to a painful couple of playoff-less seasons. Was it worth it? Judging by how the Suns are viewed right now, the answer would appear to be “nay.”
But what’s done is done, the Suns are bottoming out.
The rebuilding process that should have started three years ago has only now truly begun, which means the team is likely at least a few years away from challenging for anything significant. What Babby called “starting over sooner” could have — and should have — occurred sooner, and instead of maybe just two or three down years the Suns are set up to have at least twice that number.
This rebuilding process — if not in earnest but in reality — started in 2010-11, yet the team still lacks the requisite stars it will need if the goal is to compete for a championship. Perhaps a couple of the draft picks Phoenix owns over the next few years will turn into those stars. Perhaps they won’t.
“I view it as you look at the body of our work at the end of a reasonable period of time and see where we are,” Babby said.
It’s been three years, and the only thing that’s happened is the Suns have gone from the Western Conference Finals to the Western Conference’s basement. Not all of that is on this group, and some of the decline was going to happen no matter what anyone did.
But three years into their tenure the only thing the Babby/Blanks combo has to offer is talk.
Sooner or later, they’ll have to start producing results.