Babby: Phoenix a 'Destination Franchise' for Free Agents

Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby says the team's recent success, talented core and front office personnel make Phoenix a 'destination franchise' for free agents.
Barry Gossage/NBAE
by Matt Petersen

It doesn’t take much imagination for President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby to put himself into an NBA agent’s shoes. Remember, he used to be one.

Certain cities hold more perks. Certain teams boast more talent, both on the court and in the front office.

Babby knows Phoenix fills all those areas under the “pros” column.

“I’ve always taken the position that this was a destination franchise,” he said.

Keep in mind, this is coming from the guy who used to represent Grant Hill, Tim Duncan and Ray Allen during the respective primes of their careers. And like the former agent he is, Babby has a list of reasons waiting behind his stance.

Among Phoenix’s assets as a city and basketball franchise, he listed the following, tagging each one with the adjective “great”:

  • History
  • Infrastructure
  • Weather (“never to be underestimated in the free agent process”)
  • [Great] place to live
  • Community
  • Fan base

Those are “constants” for the city/franchise, factors that are always in play when the Suns enter the free agency game. Now, with the variables of team success and momentum now on the upswing after an impressive 2013-14 season, Babby and his staff will pitch the Phoenix as the best-case scenario both on and off the court.

“If I put my former agent hat on, where else would you rather go than the Phoenix Suns right now?” he said. “Where else would you rather be with everything we have going for us, with [General Manager] Ryan [McDonough] and [Head Coach] Jeff [Hornacek] making our important basketball decisions and with an ownership that’s completely committed to winning?

“If I put my former agent hat on, where else would you rather go than the Phoenix Suns right now?”

— Lon Babby

This isn’t the first time Babby has publicly lauded the work of the two key hires from last summer. He calls McDonough the “Miracle Kid” after he helped turn a lottery team laden with semi-sizable, mid-career contracts into a playoff-caliber squad flush with young talent, draft picks and cap space. Hornacek finished second in Coach of the Year voting and received rave reviews for his combination of player-friendly schemes and a knack for making players accountable.

Babby is confident that the duo, combined with his own experience on the other side of the bargaining table, will convince free agents that Phoenix boasts one of the best basketball opportunities in the league this offseason.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll get everybody, but tell me where else would a player would rather go?” he said. “I would say I’d be hard-pressed to find any place.”