Making a trade in the NBA is not so simple as one GM calling up another and saying, “let’s swap Player X for Player Y.” It’s a long slog of conversations between assistant GMs about various players, then conversations between GMs and coaches, agents and other teams.
Lon Babby, the Phoenix Suns President of Basketball Operations, gave a glimpse of how it’s done in an interesting discussion with Dave King at the Bright Side of the Sun blog. Most of the article focuses on the new power structure in Phoenix, but then there is the interesting trade tidbit.
He used the Eric Bledsoe trade as the example. Remember that was a three team deal where the Clippers ended up with Jared Dudley from Phoenix and free agent shooting guard J.J. Redick in a sign-and-trade; the Suns got Bledsoe and Caron Butler; while the Bucks got two second-round picks (they were going to let Redick go for nothing, so still a win).
New Assistant GM Trevor Buckstein – who has been with the Suns for years but was promoted this summer – found a way under the cap to get J.J. Redick to the Clippers without them using their MLE, while Babby called Redick’s agent and (new Suns GM Ryan) McDonough called Doc Rivers.
“But that trade doesn’t get done if Ryan didn’t think Eric [Bledsoe] was the right player,” he said. “I wasn’t making those judgments and I shouldn’t be. He’s very definitive, he’s very strong in what he wants to do.”
The Suns assistant GM was looking for a way to get the Clippers a guy they wanted so they could get a guy out of Los Angeles that they wanted (Bledsoe). It’s chess, it’s thinking a few moves ahead.
The Suns front office has not functioned smoothly the last few years, there was no seeming grand plan between Babby and former GM Lance Banks. We’ll see if there is one now with McDonough, but there at least appears to be. They are getting worse to get better, like a number of other teams, but this is a good year to take that gamble.