The Phoenix Suns will reportedly announce former NBA agent Lon Babby as their new head of basketball operations in a press conference Tuesday morning, according to SB Nation Arizona. Normally, this isn't something to write about, because he's not actually going to be the new general manager.
However, it's worth noting that this whole saga is kind of fishy. It's not as obvious as allegations of tampering with LeBron James or other top free agents, and it's probably not going to be as significant as the Joe Smith saga that killed the Timberwolves' progress early in the decade. And I'm not trying to suggest that Babby is not being hired on his merits, because he could very well be the right man for the job. But it's still strange and worth discussing.
Why? Lon Babby was formerly the agent of Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu, two clients that the Suns have acquired this summer.
Again, I'm not making an accusation here. I'm just trying to point out the whole sequence of events that led to Babby's hire. In particular, the Turkoglu trade.
I'll be honest: once I saw that the Toronto Raptors were able to get rid Turkoglu and his awful contract for a decent player on an expiring contract in Leandro Barbosa, I was confused. Honestly, did the Suns even watch Turkoglu last year? He's on the wrong side of 30, has been a mediocre to below-average player everywhere he's been except Orlando and has four more years left on his contract. The Suns generally seem to know what they're doing, so why would they take him on?
It got even odder when Turkoglu decided to waive his $5 million trade kicker, something you almost never see a player do. You could say Turkoglu really wanted out of Toronto, but I find it hard to believe the trade kicker was a deal-breaker. You don't agree to take on a $45 million contract, then haggle over having to pay a $5 million trade kicker, which gets paid out over the course of the contract. (Unless you're the Grizzlies, of course).
Finally, where does Turkoglu actually fit in with that roster? SB Nation Arizona talked to a Suns official who tried to defend the trade, saying Turkoglu will have a better attitude in Phoenix and will have more freedom to play his kind of game. He also said Turkoglu might play some power forward. It's a nice effort, but it falls flat for me. For one thing, Turkoglu is a terrible rebounder for a small forward and would be even worse at power forward. For another, while Turkoglu's season in Toronto was bad, it wasn't too far out of line with his career production. At best, it's an awkward fit. At worst? It's a terrible fit.
I'm not explicitly saying the Suns took on Turkoglu and Babby in a package deal. That would be an allegation I cannot prove. I am saying, however, that the Turkoglu trade, which was fishy to begin with, becomes even fishier now that the Suns have also hired Babby to be a part of their front office. In an era where many are complaining that the Heat tampered to get LeBron James, the Babby/Turkoglu saga certainly doesn't help with the perception that the league is turning a blind eye to illegal backhanded deals.