Phoenix Proves to Be Attractive Free Agent Destination
Posted: August 3, 2012
As a free agent destination, Phoenix doesn’t need to sell itself. NBA players around the league are already taking care of that.
It all began at the end of the season where Suns shooting guard Shannon Brown made a personal plea to the Suns front office about how he wanted to remain in the Valley of the Sun for a long term. Brown personally walked upstairs and relayed to the Suns’ brass how much he wanted to be in purple and orange next season.
Brown was recently rewarded with a two-year deal from the Suns.
“I’m definitely honored to have the opportunity to come back and use my skills to help this franchise do some great things,” he said. “I’m really appreciative and really thankful. I think we can have a great season, great years and great, great times ahead of us.”
The trend of the Suns front office being lobbied continued with rookie point guard Kendall Marshall, who on the day of the 2012 NBA Draft, e-mailed the Suns to let them know how much he wanted to be in Phoenix. Marshall relayed to Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby and Suns GM Lance Blanks that how much he enjoyed his time in Phoenix and how he believed he would be a perfect fit for the organization.
Although Babby and Blanks weren’t sold by the maneuver, they were influenced by the gesture. They also appreciated how Marshall expressed his gratitude in his introductory press conference.
“I’m extremely happy to be here and I’m truly blessed to be in this situation,” Marshall said. “The best case scenario. This is exactly where I wanted to be I’m happy that all things were able to work out the way they did.”
The parade continued at the outset of free agency, with the Suns landing all three of their primary targets. First, Goran Dragic was moved by the reception he received from Suns employees, but even more so, just loved his first two years playing with the Suns and feels like Phoenix is his home.
“I would like to thank Lon Babby and Robert Sarver for bringing me back home,” Dragic said the day of signing his four-year deal. “Phoenix is my home. I played here for two-and-a-half years and I have some great memories here.”
Although Dragic’s enthusiasm was high, no one was more content a minute past the opening of free agency as Michael Beasley. As soon as Beasley met with the Suns’ front office, he knew this is where he wanted to go, and didn’t need to entertain any other offers after that.
In fact, the Suns were the first and only team that Beasley met with in free agency.
“What really drew me here, like Lon said, was that I was No. 1 on their list,” Beasley said. “As soon as 12 o’clock hit I got a text message saying they were meeting with me the next day. That really made me feel good as a person.”
The Suns also extended a max offer sheet towards restricted free agent shooting guard Eric Gordon. However, since the Hornets were able to match the Suns’ offer, Gordon returned to New Orleans. However, Gordon was so moved by the LEDs in and around the arena and a rolled out “orange carpet” that he was quoted as saying afterwards, “My heart is in Phoenix.”
“Specifically, the one thing that has come out of this month of free agency is the tremendous enthusiasm of these players that we’re bringing in here to be here,” Babby noted.
Besides free agency, Phoenix also became a popular destination through trade. Swingman Wesley Johnson, who was acquired from Minnesota, was overwhelmed with the prospect of a new start.
He was also ecstatic to be out of the cold.
“I’ve been loving the heat,” Johnson said after arriving in the desert.
“I’ve been stuck in the snow for quite a bit, so if I can say one thing, the sun has been good so far.
“I’m from Texas, so the heat is like one of my best friends, so I missed it a lot. So coming back here, I’m going to enjoy it.”
Overall, Babby believes the positive feedback he’s received from free agents and new acquisitions has been among the most noteworthy aspects to come out of this offseason.
“With Goran returning, Beasley coming here without looking anywhere else, Wes Johnson being almost speechless on the phone this morning and with Shannon Brown making a personal plea by coming upstairs to talk to us about how much he wanted to be back here,” Babby said.
“(We believe) that is very significant to us and very, very gratifying. It really gives us confidence that we’re on the right track in terms of building a program and a culture here that’s going to be player-friendly.”
The Suns President of Basketball Operations believes this also bodes well for the future.
“If you’ve got people kicking and screaming you know you have a problem,” Babby said of attracting players to a destination. “But these are people that are rushing to the door to be let in.”
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