The Phoenix Suns are in full rebuild mode.
Whether or not they are “tanking” is a matter of interpretation, but it’s clear that they are ready to lose games in the name of getting playing time for young players as well as a better draft pick.
And the funny thing is, fans seem to be on board with the idea.
A guest of Burns and Gambo’s Wednesday, Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby noted that there seems to be an air of optimism surrounding the franchise that wasn’t necessarily there before, even though the consensus is this team will struggle to compete most nights.
Is this a sign Suns fans understand things have to get real bad before they get better? If so, Babby believes that was not the case a few years ago, when some thought the process should have begun.
“The community, our fan base, our organization, our team wasn’t ready to do this three years ago,” Babby said. “They’re coming off a Western Conference Finals, we still had Steve Nash, we still had Grant Hill. Whether you disagree with the judgment or not, the judgment is we had to play that out.
“So if we try to do this three years ago, I don’t think the fans would have embraced it, I don’t think we were ready to do that. It’s a process.”
Babby, though, admitted the team made some mistakes along the way. Though the organization tried to compete for a playoff spot the last three seasons, the team fell short each time. So in a way, all that happened was a delay of the inevitable.
“I think it’s just gotten to stage now where people are embracing it, understanding it and it’s clear,” Babby said. “Could we have done it sooner? It doesn’t matter, we are where we are now.”
Babby, who came aboard during the summer of 2010, said he was tasked with navigating the team through what proved to be a difficult transition period. He said it wasn’t always “malted milk every day,” but that now, finally, the team is being led by the right people with everyone pulling in the same direction.
“Top to bottom, within the organization, within the community, within our fan base, to begin to climb back up that hill,” he said. “But we weren’t ready to do that, probably, until now.”