Phoenix Suns right a wrong by bringing back an improved Goran Dragic


Lon Babby (left) had no problem admitting his mistake of trading away Goran Dragic in 2010-11 after signing him to a lucrative four-year deal. (Photo by Michael Schwartz/ValleyoftheSuns)

Lon Babby (left) had no problem admitting his mistake of trading away Goran Dragic in 2010-11 after signing him to a lucrative four-year deal. (Photo by Michael Schwartz/ValleyoftheSuns)

PHOENIX — At his end of year press conference following the 2010-11 season, Lon Babby took the podium and proclaimed that “the jury’s out” on the trade that sent Goran Dragic and a lottery-protected first-round pick to Houston for Aaron Brooks.

That theoretical jury returned at Thursday’s presser and left no question that the Suns were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of making a bad trade, yet the most impressive part was that once again the Suns were willing to swallow their pride to correct a mistake.

The Suns did this in 2008-09 by firing Terry Porter at the All-Star break after a 28-23 first half in which Porter proved to be a poor fit and once again by dumping Shaq a year and a half after his acquisition.

The front office members are different this time around, yet they still had no problem admitting being wrong.

“If we made a mistake and it’s important for people to admit that we made the mistake, then I admit we made a mistake,” Babby said. “What’s more important is how do we learn from it, how do we profit from it, how do we move forward? We couldn’t be more thrilled that it turned out the way it did, but I couldn’t tell you this is how we exactly planned it.

“Many of us believe had Goran not left he would have never had the opportunity to spread his wings and grow in the way he has. We’re thrilled that he did come back here. There’s an old expression that you’ve got to be big enough to admit your mistakes, strong enough to profit from them and strong enough to correct them, and bringing Goran back here if that’s what we’re doing I’m proud of that.”

It’s not exactly earth-shattering news at this point that that trade was a poor one, but it’s rare to see a front office trade a player to upgrade the backup point guard spot only to bring him back a year and a half later as a new team leader.

It could only happen because Dragic left on such good terms, always wanted to be in Phoenix and then became a much better player after he left.

Dragic did not hold a grudge for being blindsided by the trade, offering one of the highlights of the presser by asking, “Can I say something?” before Gentry retorted, “It’s your press conference.”

“Of course when I got traded I was a little bit sad but then you realize that that’s part of the business,” Dragic said. “I think that was the best thing that happened to me because I could play more minutes, I could demonstrate that I could play in the NBA, and I don’t have hard feelings of any of the guys in this organization. That’s why I come back because I like it here and I think I’m going to have a bright future here.”

Lee traded to Celts, SG options barren

The Boston Celtics are close to acquiring Courtney Lee in a sign-and-trade with the Rockets, which means the Suns’ chances of acquiring a quality shooting guard this offseason just took another major hit.

Phoenix has roughly $13.5 million to spend when not considering Robin Lopez’s $7.2 mil cap hold but no quality wing to spend it on.

Since I have been in favor of offering O.J. Mayo and Lee one-year deals for big money, I’m sure it’s no surprise to you readers that at this point I would not consider any multi-year deals to fill this hole. A long-term contract would be understandable but regrettable to nail down a talent like Mayo or Lee, but nobody left is worth such a commitment.

Restricted free agent Brandon Rush is interesting, but offer sheets must be for at least two years not including options. A Lopez-Rush swap could make sense at the right price but I still would not like a multi-year deal for him.

Shannon Brown is always an option and then there’s my personal favorite, Michael Redd, if the Suns can add another wing as well.

With that much cap space left the Suns could always try to pay Lopez handsomely for one year to turn him into an enticing expiring contract (as well as a 24-year-old 7-footer), or they could hoard it for a lopsided trade later in the season.

A new number for a new beginning

Goran Dragic left as a No. 2, but he’s returning as a No. 1.

That goes for his number as well as his place on the point guard depth chart.

“I chose No. 1 because it’s a fresh start for me, it’s a second time that I came back,” Dragic said. “I’m a new guy now. I’m a different player, different person than when I was here. I want to have a fresh start here.”

And 1

Dragic said the Rockets, Raptors and Bobcats all chased him, with Charlotte offering the most money.

Gentry said he “was actually really surprised” that he was even available to the Suns after his strong second half.

Tags: Goran Dragic Lon Babby

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Obviously a stupid trade to begin with. Even though he’s back, I’m actually still pissed about it.

    Also, sad to say but I am actually beginning to side with our amigo Tony in regards to the FO

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Now that courtney lee is a Celtic, that is. Tony was right. The suns couldn’t land a shooting guard this summer. Probably re-sign Brown now? Not a bad idea really, we have draft picks and trade bait. Rebuilding doesn’t happen in one summer.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    I still don’t see the big deal about not being able to land a shooting guard.

    NOH matched Gordon. Alright. Mayo came in, seemed to want a lot of money to play in PHX, but took a lot less to go to a contender, plus PHX didn’t want to overpay. I’m good with that also.

    Lee was involved in a sign and trade. That means he WANTED to go to Boston and agreed to sign a deal which would be shifted to the Celtics to pay out. So, how is that the Suns’ fault?

    I’m not sure what else people wanted them to do. Overpay Mayo? Overpay Lee? Take away future cap space? That is not a good strategy for the end game.

    There are still options out there who may take a 1-year deal to play with the bench mob. The worst that could happen is JMZ remains a starter at the 2. I’m fine with that for another season.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    It’s not so much that they didn’t land a SG specifically, its that they didn’t land one when they clearly wanted to. That is the frustrating thing. Think about it. The rockets wanted Lin and got him. The lakers wanted Nash and got him. The Mavs wanted Mayo and got him. I am happy the Suns have Dragic back. Honestly, not too thrilled about Beasley, but we’ll see. I am very curious to see how Gortat does without Nash. I hope he does well.

    Like I said, I know rebuilding doesn’t happen in one summer (unless you’re the Heat, Lakers, or Celtics). I have patience.

  • Scott

    @Rich -

    Is it confirmed Mayo took less to go to the Mavs? Last I heard it was assumed he took a S&T from the Grizz to take advantage of a $8.9 trade exception (from Odom).

  • cha cha cha

    “The Mavs wanted Mayo and got him.”

    well, the Mavs wanted Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, but they got Mayo (and Collison).

  • Tim from British Columbia

    Excited about Dragon being back! What about Barbossa??

  • Greg

    Nash got the Lakers the Lakers didnt get Nash. Good point from cha cha, Mavericks missed out on their big targets too and went with backup plans. Rockets wanted Lin and got him because they offered a deal the Knicks couldnt handle unless paying many many millions into the luxury tax. I would harldy say the Mavs are contenders, but the mavs are in a better playoff opportunity then the Suns obviously. Mayo would kinda have been put in position to be the man, I think he preferred the more relaxing role of being Driks right hand man and still being one of the primary scoring options.

    Shannon Brown did average nearly 16 ppg as a starter, so he could fill the scoring void, and he became more active as a defender. We could do much worse, as in having no true shooting guard on our entire roster.

    Gortat thrived in the pick and roll with Nash, but Goran and Gortat can be a forimidable combo. However, Gortat had an 80% assist rate, 2nd highest in the league. Without the passes that no one can make but Nash, his scoring will probably go from 15/16 down to 13 or so, but maybe not. Gortat could improve other facets to make up for the loss of Nash and having a true post player in Scola (no Gortat is not a low post type center) could help him too.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Aah yes, I had forgotten about the mavericks wanting D will and D12. I’ve just been schooled. I can admit when I’ve been schooled.

  • Tim in BC

    If not Barbossa, I also think that Shannon Brown would fill in okay until Suns could find a good shooting guard.

  • steve

    Yeah, I wouldn’t worry too much about the Suns not being able to get the FO they wanted. Simply wanting a player isn’t the only part of the equation. Eric Gordon agreed to player here, but the CBA made it possible for another team to overrule that. With Mayo, something went wrong with negotiations (presumably, he wanted more money than the Suns wanted to give him). If we assume it was a money issue, then I wouldn’t hold that against the organization either. The Suns might have wanted Elton Brand, but if Elton Brand demanded $10M annually, there’s no way that would be a good signing.

    I know everyone already knows that, but I just thought it’s a good thing to be reminded of, in this instance. Wanting someone doesn’t always justify the means of getting them.

  • PennyAnd1

    Welcome back Dragic!

    I gotta say that I’m impressed with the confidence that Gordan displayed at the conference. He looks very promising. I always thought that the barrier to Goran’s success would be the communication skills. His confidence grows with communicating skills.

    So what now that Courtney Lee is no longer available? I would like the Suns to trade either Lopez or Frye for Monta Ellis. They have too much players at the front court, and zero SG. And please NO Shannon Brown!

  • Greg

    Lopez or Frye for Monta Ellis? This isnt NBA 2k12 where they can override recjected trades. Ellis would probably require a package of picks and Marshall+ more maybe. The Bucks have alot of bodies in their front court too and they are in a bad spot with their backcourt depth, so this would hurt them significantly more then help them.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Penny – while I am in favor for any trade that would get Frye out of phoenix, I don’t think the Bucks would go for that. Remember, in easily the most lopsided trade of last year, they gave away a big (bogut) for monta. I don’t think they want another big.

  • bk

    Courtney Lee is more like Jared Dudley in production.
    You don’t need both of these players. Specially that Lee will be more overpaid than Dudley.

  • Todd

    Huh. I think I remember another backup point guard Phoenix drafted, then traded to a Texas team, where he became a productive starter, only to return to the Suns later in free agency. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see more career parallels between these two.

    • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

      So when should the Suns trade Marshall to San Antonio to expedite the process of him returning to be a Suns stud?

  • Todd

    Well, I’m not going to judge based on two summer league games alone, but I’m leaning towards, “as soon as possible.” ;)

  • steve

    I think Todd and Michael might be onto something here. We should even expand this theory beyond the 1-spot. Let’s start trading centers away to Texas and see if we can get them to groom the next Shaq for us. If we send Dudley to the Rockets, I guarantee he’ll be winning dunk contests by 2015. True story.

  • Greg

    Dudley/Scola combined dunks over/under? I say we start at negative 1.5

  • PennyAnd1

    SHHHHIIIIIIIITTTTTTTT!

    BAD MOVE TO TO SIGN BROWN BACK, MAKING IT WORST WITH A TWO FREAKIN’ YEAR CONTRACT!!!!!! Just dumb, pure dumb.

  • PennyAnd1

    They should just trade both Frye & Lopez for Monta Ellis. I’d take that any day. Scola & Gortat with Morris can handle front just fine without Back up. Plus Beasley can always back up at PF if they need him to.

    DAMN IT! Why’d they have to sign Brown back. I just hate his style, it’s too slow & too selfish, plus dumb decision maker.

    A shooting guard was so important! Couldn’t they just gave OJ Mayo the money? They could’ve atleast got rid of Warrick or Frye to make up for the money! FOs did great so far until this. Suns will struggle this season with Brown ill tell you that.

  • B. Cray Z.

    Good point Tim.

    Some folks (like Nash) up in B.C. know this “Yank” (although invented by a Canuck) game.

    Have been campaigning since 2010 not to break up that killer 2nd unit. They did. Then, my battle cry was to reunite them. Surely that would have been much better with Nash & Hill still here. Gogi is back. Team him with Scola but also with Dud & *when he is ready to play again) Frye. What should we do for the starting 2? The answer is obvious to Tim (comment #7) & as easy to spot as the nose on your face. Suns must reunite that killer bench unit by bringing back The Brazilian Blur. Suns would start Gortat but finish with Frye. Only difference is that the killer bench unit would become (as they successfully were back in ’10) our finishing five & we would upgrade Louis with Luis. Make Bassy our bench 2 (or resign Redd) & have Beasley play a 6th man role at the bench 4. Tony & Scott would both like that. Play Morris as a bench 3 & send Warrick to the D League.

    MUST start & finish with LB!!!!

    .

  • Greg

    @ Pennyand 1

    What are you talking about? Ofcourse we would take Frye and Lopez for Monta Ellis. No team in the world wouldnt do that. Its an unrealistic deal, the Bucks dont need frontcourt depth! they are already crowded with their own guys. Beasley starting at the 3, maybe picking up some minutes at the 4, would not be enough relief. Scola is another guy who is around 32 mins a game.

    Morris, Scola, Gortat could handle with no back up? Gortat got tired towards the end of last year, it was his first full year of starting and the shortened condensed schedule wore on him. He isnt gonna increase much or if at all from his 32 MPG. Morris and Scola would get eaten alive at the 5, that is not an option. I dont think a team has ever ran a legit 3 man front court rotation….

    Hopefully Brown can raise his awareness and ball movement. regardless, if he is starting he will score around 15 a night, and thats not the end of the world for us. I dont see the Suns running too much anyway. Dudley Scola are waaaaay below the rim players, Gortats not gonna run the lane, and no one on their bench can run that well either. They will be at a slower pace this year i think anyway, even tho Goran is awesome in transition.

  • Greg

    Beasley will not be a 6th man. We signed him to give him a chance to get off the bench, where he was in Minny, and allowing him a chance to start and reach his potential. We arent paying him 6 million a year to continue an already failed role with a different team.

  • Tim in BC

    Good comments B. Cray Z.
    I love when the bench came on and lit a fire that spread to the rest of the team. I know Lou Amundson didn’t get a whole lot of points but loved his enthusiasm and energy. Same with the Brazilian Blur but he got some key points including some awesome threes. Although I was upset when the Suns let him go, I had the pleasure of watching him with the Raptors and he played some awesome basketball for a not so great team. Couldn’t figure out why they traded him to the Pacers (cap space I guess) As for Steve Nash, some still love him up here but I am still mad at him but may get over it (unless he helps the Lakers beat the Suns next season and I will be ticked off all over again!) Go Suns!!!

  • Tim in BC

    I also like Redd, bad knees or not…

  • http://jtshoopsblog.blogspot.com JT’s Hoops Blog

    The Suns were in desperate need for a SG after stricking out on Eric Gordon. Brown was not that great as he was not so efficient ans offensive player averageing about 12 per game and shooting like .394 from the field.

    I am really excited to see Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley play as the Suns may be a dark horse team to make the playoffs.