Babby Trades Away Client in First Suns Deal

By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: Dec. 27, 2010

When Lon Babby stepped away from being a renowned sports agent to become the Suns President of Basketball Operations, he knew that there was going to be a change in perspective.

The reality of his new role didn’t take long to set in, occurring in his first-ever trade as a front-office executive. It transpired when Babby traded one of his most famous clients away from the club he was currently running.

In a six-player deal on December 18, Babby sent Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark to the Magic in exchange for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a first-round pick and cash considerations. Although Babby had developed pleasant relationships with all of those Suns players, none were closer to him than Turkoglu.

Since Turkoglu was drafted into the NBA in 2000, Babby had personally represented him. In fact, as recently as the summer of 2009, Babby negotiated a five-year $53-million deal with the Raptors for Turkoglu’s services.

But when Babby accepted his position with the Suns, in order to avoid a conflict of interest, he had to strip off his “agent hat” and put on his executive one. Ironically, it didn’t take long for his new hat to replace the old hat’s usefulness.

That irony wasn’t lost on Babby.

“I’m going to be sad to see him go,” Babby said. “He’s a great friend of mine and I appreciate that.

“But I also know that it’s great the way it turned out for him because he’s going back to a place where he’s had his greatest success and I know he views it as home. So that takes the edge off a little bit.”

In the weeks leading up to the trade, the Suns President of Basketball Operations had many conversations with his staff and with Turkoglu about how he was fitting in with the Suns. A lifelong small forward, everyone was hopeful that at 6-10 Turkoglu could adapt to playing the power forward in Phoenix, but he never seemed to be comfortable in that role.

With front offices around the league in daily contact with each other, potential trade scenarios began to emerge with Orlando that included Turkoglu. That’s when the personal and professional worlds officially collided.

“In some sense it’s just one more negotiation but the consequences of it are great,” Babby said. “I used to hate when I was an agent to get word that one of my guys was traded.

“I think everybody forgets the human aspects of it. If (Suns GM) Lance (Blanks), myself or any one of us in this room found out that we were moving to Orlando tomorrow we would be a little discombobulated. I think we try to be sensitive to the human elements of this and the disruption that it causes.”

As opposed to his previous career as an agent, Babby’s approach as a Suns executive is much more in-depth than worrying about the futures of just a few players. Now, Babby is charged with the task of weighing both the long-term and short-term financial repercussions of the move, while also considering the effects that the trade would have on the team’s chemistry.

Even if that means trading a past client and friend.

“There is a personal aspect to it because you’re on the bus, you’re on the plane and in you’re in the locker room with these guys and you have to say, ‘Thanks, but it’s time to move on,’” Babby said. “It’s very hard.”

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