PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns’ front office knew it was time to make a splash.
The suits gave their patchwork assembled team a quarter of a season to prove they were a unit that could compete.
Saturday’s trade was an indication of a step in a new direction.
“We came here with the idea that we were going to take our time evaluating what we had,” said Suns’ President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. “We took about 20 games, looked closely at what we had and felt like we needed to really improve our defensive presence.”
And that’s exactly what Phoenix sees in their newly acquired trio of Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus.
“We all recognized that we had a need here for an interior presence in size and rebounding and Gortat is really someone we have had our eye on since we got here,” Babby said. “Carter and Pietrus give us a great defensive presence on the perimeter as well as being extremely dynamic offensively.”
Although the Suns were forced to give up their leading scorer in Jason Richardson, the team doesn’t see itself losing much scoring productivity.
“The other 29 teams [in the NBA] are trying to get better, too; you can’t do something like this without giving up something,” Babby said. “We think that Carter, Pietrus and the other wings that we have can compensate for the loss of Richardson. And if we can improve ourselves defensively, that should offset [any offensive loss] as well.”
Suns’ General Manager Lance Blanks isn’t worried about points either.
“Offensively, we think we’ll be able to get easier baskets because Steve Nash will have a big in there that he can dump the ball off to,” Blanks said. “Nash still does a good job of penetrating and creating opportunities and we feel like Gortat will be able to catch and finish around the rim.”
The two executives raved about the impact adding another big rebounder in Gortat will have on the team.
“The first indication that maybe this was a good move was that our phones haven’t stopped ringing from people trying to get Gortat from us,” Babby said. “He hasn’t even arrived yet and teams are calling; so that’s always a good sign.”
Blanks pointed to Gortat’s former Magic teammate as another cause for optimism.
“He’s been with the premier big man in the NBA for several years now in Dwight Howard,” Blanks said. “There’s got to be some rub off from that and he’s openly spoken about embracing and wanting a bigger role.”
The trade itself is still pending physicals from all six players but barring any setbacks, Babby said the new trio should first see action next Thursday against the Miami Heat.
As for Saturday’s move possibly leading to a Steve Nash trade, Babby shot down the question, but did leave himself wiggle room.
“That’s an impossible question to answer because no matter what I say it’s going to be interpreted in a fashion that is going to be misunderstood,” Babby said. “Steve Nash is the sun, moon and the stars of this franchise and we appreciate that and we understand that. If that doesn’t convey the message than I’ve failed to convey the message of his importance to this franchise.”