Phoenix Suns’ Babby: Some frustration is boiling over

Apr 9, 2015, 9:13 PM | Updated: 9:13 pm
LISTEN: Lon Babby- Suns president of basketball operations

About this time last season the Phoenix Suns were heading for another playoff-less finish, but there was plenty of optimism surrounding the franchise.

They would end up finishing the season with 48 wins, with head coach Jeff Hornacek and general manager Ryan McDonough each emerging as candidates for end-of-season awards.

Things are considerably different this year, as the Suns stumble toward the finish line.

What has transpired this season has led to some doubting both the team’s coach and general manager. When asked by Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday what Hornacek in particular needs to do to improve as a head coach, Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby responded with a defense of the team’s leader.

“I wouldn’t single out Jeff,” he said. “I would say the whole organization has to improve, as we do every year, and we have to take a cold, hard look at what worked this year and, more importantly, what didn’t work.”

Babby, who is in his fifth season with the Suns, pointed out the favorable view people had of the team’s front office and coach just one year ago.

“So we’ve got the same people in place, who are working even harder than they worked last year,” he said. “They didn’t go from being at the top of the game last year to anything below that this year.”

It’s worth noting that even the shrewdest general managers make moves that don’t work out, and the best head coaches will occasionally make mistakes.

And in the case of Hornacek and McDonough, both of whom are in their second seasons in their respective roles, a learning curve is to be expected.

That does not make this season’s step back any more tolerable, though, and Babby noted how the team’s struggles have led to an understandable level of frustration.

Earlier this season, it was Goran Dragic who complained about his role. Last weekend, Archie Goodwin called out the lack of leadership and defined roles on the team. And now, Gerald Green’s agent has voiced displeasure about how his client has been utilized by Hornacek and the team.

“I think everybody is disgruntled when you’re not winning, and we’ve gone through a tough stretch here, there’s no question about that,” he said. “And everybody wants to be successful and everybody wants to contribute and when not given the opportunity to contribute, they think they should be contributing. Or they’re playing sometimes, they’re not fully cognizant of what contributions they’re actually making.

“I think we do have a little bit, I wouldn’t say we’re leading towards disgruntlement, I just think we just have some frustration bubbling over.”

Babby went on to point out how the final few games of this season will be the first the team has had to play outside of a playoff race for the better part of the last two seasons.

Still, this is the fifth straight season the team will miss the playoffs, its first such stretch since the franchise was in its infancy. That’s not a good thing.

“We’ve had good success here the last year and a half, particularly last year and building into this year,” Babby said. “I think when things turn a little bit that leads to frustration, and that’s not a completely bad thing. It manifests itself in ways that I don’t particularly like and we’ll address that, but on the other hand, you want people to care, you want them to take pride in what they do and be disappointed when things don’t go the way we hoped and they way they should have, frankly.”

With that in mind, Babby said it’s important not to overreact to what’s happened this season, while remaining cognizant of the team’s youth and it’s numerous close losses this season.

“All of those tell us that we’re close, but that we’re not good enough quite yet.”

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