By Ben Golliver
The Suns announced Tuesday that team president Lon Babby has been granted a two-year contract extension that will keep him with the organization through the 2014-15 season.
Babby, 62, is a former player agent who was named to his post in 2010 and who has overseen the franchise's drop from three Western Conference finals trips between 2005 and 2010 to three straight lottery appearances and the worst record in the West.
“Lon has led our front office during this important transition period for the organization and he has my full support as we continue to rebuild,” Suns owner Robert Sarver said in a statement.
Phoenix has had a difficult season, trading away Steve Nash, the face of the franchise, last summer, parting ways with coach Alvin Gentry back in January, and dealing with the departures of assistant coaches following the appointment of player development coordinator Lindsey Hunter as interim coach. Phoenix is currently tied for last in the league in offensive efficiency and ranks No. 22 on the defensive end. Along the way, center Marcin Gortat publicly criticized Gentry and his teammates over his lack of touches.
“I greatly appreciate the faith that Robert Sarver and the entire Suns organization have demonstrated with this new contract,” Babby said in a statement. “We have begun the heavy lifting needed to rebuild our team. While the transition is often painful, I am entirely confident that we are taking the necessary steps to regain elite NBA status. I fully embrace the opportunity to continue on that path.”
The press release announcing the agreement touts Babby's accumulation of draft picks and selections of Markieff Morris in the 2011 draft and Kendall Marshall in the 2012 draft. If Morris and Marshall are your headline moves, that pretty much says it all. Both players have Player Efficiency Ratings well below-average and Marshall's is among the lowest in the league; they could yet prove to be effective professionals, but it will be awhile.
The rest of Phoenix's recent moves seem to lack a clear rhyme or reason. When you're signing Michael Beasley to a three-year contract, you're sacrificing every benefit of the doubt. While Goran Dragic is a solid piece, Gortat is more than serviceable and Jared Dudley is a very useful, proven glue guy, the rest of the Suns roster is simply talent deficient. Dragic is really the only player who can be considered part of a developing "core" at this point, although that could change if some of the team's younger players emerge over the next season or two. Babby's task is clear: nail each of the next three drafts and avoid making any flexibility-compromising mistakes in free agency. In the ultra-competitive Western Conference, it could take years for the Suns to get back to mediocre, let alone contender status. Maintaining patience for that long is easier said than done.