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Suns’ Lon Babby discusses team’s trade deadline

LISTEN: Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby

The Phoenix Suns made a pair of trades before the deadline to do so passed.

The first sent a future second round pick to Houston in exchange for forward Marcus Morris. The second moved point guard Sebastian Telfair to Toronto in exchange for a center Hamed Haddadi and second round pick.

A guest on the Suns Midseason Report on Arizona Sports 620 Thursday, Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby said the team had long toyed with the idea of adding Morris, who is the twin brother of 2011 Suns draft pick Markieff.

“There is a unique and special bond between these two twin brothers and we have been intrigued about it, really, back to when we drafted Markieff two years ago,” he said. “We’ve discussed it with Houston over the time and the demands were always a little bit more than we wanted or the timing wasn’t right, and we thought this was a great opportunity for us.

“I think it’s going to help both players, but at the very least it’s going to help Markieff and that will be valuable in and of itself.”

Babby said the trade was “exactly the kind of move I feel like we should be making”, as it brought a young player on board without costing the team one of its precious first round draft picks over the next couple years. And while it did cost them a second round selection, they gained one back in the Telfair trade.

That deal, Babby said, was made with a few factors in mind, including Telfair’s impending free agency and lack of playing time behind Goran Dragic and rookie Kendall Marshall.

“The other motivation was we wanted to get an asset back, and Haddadi may be interesting, may not be, but a prime motivation was the second round pick and we got it in 2014, which spreads our draft picks out a little bit,” he said.

That was it for the Suns, who are currently 18-37 and last place in the Western Conference. Though they were rumored to be involved in other deals — some big, some little — nothing else was done. In fact, Babby said the Suns were not close to making any trades that ultimately didn’t get done.

“We were not close to doing anything else, and 99 percent of what you read about what they said we were thinking about doing was inaccurate,” he said.

But, Babby admitted that reports about interest in one of his players were accurate.

“We got a fair number of calls about Jermaine (O’Neal) and a number of our other players,” he said. “Part of what happens during this process, which I don’t like but it’s unavoidable, is that rumors are flying left and right, many of them — maybe more than many — maybe the vast majority if not almost all of them have no merit, and that’s just become a part of the job that you have to deal with.”

Babby said O’Neal, who at 34 is having a bounce-back season with the team, is someone head coach Lindsey Hunter likes having around, sets a good example and professed no desire to leave.

“He’s just too valuable for us to give up, under the circumstances,” he said. “And we want to give our team, we want our opportunity to be as competitive as we can be and play as hard as we can every night, and he’s giving us that.

“So there would be no reason to move him.”