Lon Babby

Western Notes: Pachulia, Abrines, Babby

Zaza Pachulia is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but the big man wants to return to Dallas and he hopes his strong 2015/16 campaign made an impression on the Mavs‘ front office, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com relays. “Well, I wish I had a lifetime contract, but it’s not the first time. You know, I’ve been a free agent a couple of times now, and it’s a process. You’ve got to be smart with the decisions, so I’m looking forward to it,” Pachulia said. “We’ll see what’s going to happen. I feel real confident. And once the time comes, I think I have made all the right decisions in my career, whether to stay or whether to go. But I’m confident. And with the use of my experience, I hope I’m going to make the right decision that’s best for me and my family. Whoever would come here for this team and for this organization would love it. I mean, very few percentage of the players wouldn’t like here. You know, it’s the city, the fans, the organization, the personality and the heart. This team is all about winning. And if you’re a winner, then definitely this is the place to be.”

Here’s more from out West:

  • The Thunder are extremely high on draft-and-stash prospect Alex Abrines, who beat out Dario Saric for the Euroleague’s Rising Star award, as Royce Young of ESPN.com and international journalist David Pick relay (Twitter links). The 22-year-old signed an extension last May with Barcelona of Spain that carries through the 2018/19 season, and it isn’t known if that pact includes an NBA out clause that would allow Abrines to join Oklahoma City in 2016/17.
  • After spending the past season as a part-time advisor for the Suns, former team president Lon Babby is ending his tenure with the team this week, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic reports. “I’m very appreciative for the opportunity to come to Phoenix, be part of a wonderful community and see and learn a lot of things that have been very gratifying,” Babby said. “I look forward to staying involved here in the community and being more involved with my family. I turned 65 in February and consider myself a full-fledged snowbird.”
  • Former Lakers coach Byron Scott said he was shocked that he was fired by the team, adding that he believed management would give him at least one more season to try to turn around the rebuilding squad, Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com relays. “When you have conversations with guys [team management], you take them for their word,” Scott said. “And that’s what I did. Our conversation a couple of years ago was, ‘This is a rebuilding process. It’s going to take two to three years. It’s going to be very tough. Are you OK with that?’ And as I stated, I said, ‘Yeah I’m OK with it. Are you guys OK with it? If you can deal with it, I can deal with it.’ And so when I said I was ‘blindsided’ by it, I figured I at least had another year to get this thing turned around, and I was preparing for that and looking forward to next year. And then boom, that happened, and I said, ‘Wow.’

And-Ones: Morris Twins, Gerald Green, Hardaway

Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris thought their close relationship with Suns owner Robert Sarver, which included invitations to Sarver’s home to work out on his basketball court, would ensure advance warning of the trade that sent Marcus to the Pistons, the twins told Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher. It’s not simply a matter of the trade having separated them, Marcus insists, saying to Bucher that he also would have pulled off the deal that sent him to the Pistons if he thought, as the Suns did, that it would give them a better shot at LaMarcus Aldridge.

“Everybody thinking that we’re upset because we don’t get to play with each other,” Marcus said. “Kieff can’t deal with adversity? We’re from north Philadelphia. This isn’t adversity. This is betrayal.”

The Magic offered Channing Frye for Markieff shortly after the deal that sent Marcus to the Pistons this summer, a league source told Bucher, and the Cavaliers and Bulls were interested in Markieff, too, Bucher hears, also confirming an earlier report that the Pistons held interest in reuniting the brothers. Bucher indicates that the twins were closer with former Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby than with Suns GM Ryan McDonough, suggesting that that the reduction in Babby’s role played a part in the end of the run for the Morrises in Phoenix. See more from around the NBA:

Pacific Notes: Okafor, Lakers, Babby, Schlenk

The Lakers have zeroed in on Jahlil Okafor for the No. 2 pick, multiple league sources tell Chris Mannix of SI.com, who writes in his latest mock draft. Chad Ford of ESPN.com wrote a couple of weeks ago that he didn’t get the sense that Okafor wasn’t a surefire Lakers pick at No. 2 the way that Karl-Anthony Towns would be if the Timberwolves took Okafor first overall, so perhaps Okafor’s workout with the Lakers this week swayed the team’s thinking. Mitch Kupchak is choosing his words carefully, but Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding has heard enough from the Lakers GM to become convinced that either Towns or Okafor will be the team’s choice. Kupchak made it clear to reporters, including Bill Oram of the Orange County Register, that there need not be a consensus within the front office and that the decision, with the support of the team’s ownership, rests with him (Twitter link). Here’s more on the Lakers’ Pacific Division rivals:

  • Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby, who will become an adviser on August 1st, didn’t originally intend to remain with the team as long as he has, but the 64-year-old has found it hard not to stay involved, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic details. The role reduction, which will make him a part-timer but leave him involved in negotiations and cap management, suits Babby just fine, Coro writes. “This is a perfect outcome,” Babby said. “When I came here, I made it clear to everybody that I thought one of my major responsibilities was to develop a succession plan and prepare the next generation. When I hired [GM] Ryan [McDonough], I made it clear. I said, ‘You don’t need to worry about your career path here. I’m not going to do this forever.’ That was my commitment to him.”
  • Warriors assistant GM Travis Schlenk is believed to be among the potential candidates to fill the vacancy that Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro will reportedly create in Sacramento upon his departure for the Nuggets, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Lakers assistant scouting director Ryan West is another apparent candidate, as Sam Amick of USA Today reported.
  • David Lee saw playing time for the Warriors in Game 3 of the Finals, but he sat out the first two games and admitted to Mannix, writing in a separate piece, that his lack of minutes has been frustrating. Still, Lee takes pride in being a supportive teammate and insists he won’t agitate to play more, and he said that he’s not concerned about the notion that he’ll be a trade candidate this summer, as Mannix details.

Lon Babby To Reduce Role With Suns

12:59pm: The move came at Babby’s behest, according to a statement he made as part of a Suns press release confirming the transition that the team has on its website.

“I am grateful that [owner] Robert [Sarver] has accommodated my wish to reduce my work load, while remaining a vital part of the Suns organization,” Babby said. “At this stage of my career, I welcome the flexibility that comes with this new role, a flexibility that will enable me to do other things that are important to me both personally and in the community. I feel particularly confident in making this transition because of the quality of leadership in place within the organization.”

The press release doesn’t indicate that McDonough will assume Babby’s job title of president of basketball operations. McDonough will nonetheless take on added responsibilities, as will assistant GMs Pat Connelly and Trevor Bukstein, the team said.

12:07pm: Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby will move into a role as senior adviser and GM Ryan McDonough will become the team’s head of basketball operations on August 1st, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Babby has held the president’s title since the 2010/11 season, when he and former GM Lance Blanks came aboard. Phoenix replaced Blanks with McDonough in 2013.

It’s not immediately clear whether Babby, who signed a two-year deal to stick with the Suns in 2013, is choosing to make this transition or if the team is pushing him aside. Phoenix has pivoted away from the Steve Nash era under his watch, but the team has yet to make the playoffs since Babby came aboard. McDonough appears to have had plenty of influence since his hiring, experimenting with a point guard heavy roster the last two seasons, with mixed results.

Babby is a former player agent whose clients included Tim Duncan, Ray Allen and Grant Hill. McDonough, who spent several years in the Celtics organization before joining the Suns, was Boston’s assistant GM for the three seasons prior to his move to Phoenix.

Suns, Lon Babby Agree On New Two-Year Deal

2:58pm: The Suns confirmed the news of Babby's new contract, which runs through the 2014/15 season, on the team's website.

"I greatly appreciate the faith that (owner) Robert Sarver and the entire Suns organization have demonstrated with this new contract," Babby said. "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."

2:34pm: The Suns and president of basketball operations Lon Babby have agreed to a two-year extension, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. The news appears to put to rest speculation about Babby's future, as fellow Arizona Republic scribe Scott Bordow wrote today about questions regarding the team's front office and interim head coach Lindsey Hunter. This had been the final year of Babby's contract.

Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News wrote in January that Babby was "probably done" in Phoenix, and Lawrence figured that might also mean the end for general manager Lance Blanks, who reports to Babby. It appears that Babby will instead be sticking around, but it's unclear what the move means for Blanks, whose contract runs through 2013/14. Hunter took over at midseason for former coach Alvin Gentry, and at least one report seems to indicate Hunter will be sticking around beyond this year. The Suns are in the midst of rebuilding following the offseason sign-and-trade that sent Steve Nash away, and this year's 23-51 record is the worst since the team went 16-66 as a first-year expansion club in 1968/69.

Phoenix could have as little as $44.4MM in commitments for next season, so the team figures to have the flexibility to try to lure more talent to the desert. The Suns have the fourth-best shot at the No. 1 overall pick, as our tentative draft order shows, and thanks to the Nash trade, they could have an extra first-round pick this June if the Lakers fail to make the playoffs.

Odds & Ends: Sims, Babby, Aminu, Robinson

Although the Mavericks/Lakers game tonight will have a serious impact on the race for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference, it's not the only noteworthy game on the schedule. The Knicks and Heat have comfortably clinched playoff spots, but New York is still vying for the second seed in the East, while the Heat are looking for a split of the season series with the Knicks. As we wait for those teams to tip off in Miami, let's round up a few odds and ends from around the NBA:

Lawrence On Suns, Babby, Blanks, Heat, Europe

Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News consistently delivers at least few noteworthy rumors in his weekly column, and this week's edition is no exception. He touches on the state of the Nets and some chirping between Dwight Howard and former Lakers sharpshooter Robert Horry, and we'll round up the rest right here:
  • Suns president Lon Babby is in the final year of his contract, and is "probably done" in Phoenix, where owner Robert Sarver, not known for his patience, appears anxious to make changes, Lawrence hears, adding that GM Lance Blanks could also be on his way out.
  • In addition to a big man, the Heat are also looking for an upgrade at point guard. Lawrence suggests the Heat, who aren't re-signing Josh Harrellson to another 10-day contract, are still mulling whether to sign Chris Andersen, who worked out for the team earlier this month.
  • Lawrence doesn't think London, which played host on Thursday to the KnicksPistons game, is anywhere near ready for an NBA franchise, and believes the league might be better off expanding into Barcelona or Rome, where there's greater interest in the game. Commissioner David Stern foresees multiple NBA teams based in Europe within 20 years.