The Front Office Answers
You've asked and they've answered! Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby, President of Business Operations Brad Casper and General Manager Lance Blanks answer the most common fan questions submitted via Suns.com.
What is the strategy over the next 2-3 years to get the Suns back to the Western Conference Finals?
Babby: This is a very good question and one that many of our fans asked. Our team has a legacy of success as evidenced by our status as the fourth-winningest franchise in the NBA. In the past 15 years, 25 NBA teams have gone three or more consecutive years without a playoff bid. The Phoenix Suns are one of only five teams who have not. That said, we are in a transition.
Our goal is to return the team to elite status, that is, to be legitimate championship contenders year in and year out. No excuses. Steps to achieve this goal began last season when basketball operations upgraded the scouting department and implemented an analytics-based player evaluation system ensuring every player we sign excels in playing ability, character and fit with the team. Rookie Markieff Morris was drafted as a result of his high assessment through this process. Balance is also important: youth must balance experience; offense must be in balance with defense.
Moving into the offseason, we have the available cap room and support from ownership to go after impact players. This flexibility provides us with exciting opportunities and we are going to aim high, yet discipline in making sound and smart personnel decisions is crucial. We will protect our draft picks and also consider free agency, as we assemble an elite team.
What is the incentive for season-ticket holders to renew their tickets?
Casper: Phoenix Suns season ticket holders get to be part of the excitement that is Phoenix Suns basketball, but they also get unique members-only opportunities.
This year, season-ticket renewal packages will be going out the week of March 11th. Season-ticket holders will be eligible for numerous incentives that are not open to spot buyers, including opportunities to win a trip to an away game on the team plane, valuable gift cards, an autographed Suns jersey, inclusion in private ticket-holder-only events with players and coaches, free parking when you pay in full, Gorilla bucks and access to our “no ticket goes unused” program, which allows season ticket holders to get complimentary tickets in exchange for games they miss. A new benefit is inclusion in our new All-Star speaker series involving NBA insiders like Commissioner David Stern and columnist Harvey Mackay.
Also, we are proud to announce that we will not be raising season-ticket prices for the fourth consecutive year. Some seat codes will actually have reduced pricing to ensure we continue to provide the best fans in the NBA with the best values.
Finally, I should note that longevity has its privileges, as well. All season-ticket holders are eligible for game-day seat upgrades, but having the first opportunity to relocate or upgrade your seat location for the 2012-13 season, more game-day seat upgrade vouchers and bigger discounts at the Team Shop are reserved for those season-ticket holders that have been with us the longest. For more information on season tickets and renewal benefits, call your SixthMan specialist at 602-514-5444.
Who are you guys looking to sign this offseason?
Blanks: The rules prohibit us from identifying targets for the offseason, but we have carefully created the salary cap flexibility to have the ability to take advantage of any opportunities that are available. This could be in the form of trades, free agency or draft picks. These are the tools we will use to rebuild our team, but we have to be disciplined in the process.
Will we see some new uniform designs or alternates (e.g. black alternate) next season?
Casper: In the fall we will be making a special announcement about a uniform promotion that highlights the Suns’ rich legacy. Stay tuned for more information in the coming months.
How many draft picks do the Suns have, in which rounds?
Blanks: Currently, the team has one first-round pick going into the draft.
What happened to Planet Orange – a great place to meet fans of PHX Suns and read interesting ideas?
Casper: I’m glad you asked. Our digital team has been hard at work over the last several months building out an entirely new community site, as an extension of Suns.com. The “fan hub” will incorporate many of the same features that you enjoyed with our previous site, PlanetOrange.net, including blogs, message boards and fan photos, but will incorporate our other social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well. The site is currently in beta-testing and should be opened to the public within the next week.
Why would [free agents] come to Phoenix over other destinations?
Blanks: We have a winning tradition, supportive fans and the gift of great weather. We provide a positive environment for our players and their families and friends. We also have a tremendous support staff in our trainers, coaches and team staff.
If you need more proof, look no further than Grant Hill. Grant is playing outstanding basketball and was courted by multiple teams last summer. His decision to stay in Phoenix speaks for itself.