Last summer, the Phoenix Suns' President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby originally had no intention to trade Steve Nash to a rival team like the Lakers. After some haggling and googly eyes from the Candian wunderkind, he and Managing Partner Robert Sarver eventually relented, in exchange for what appeared to be a bevy of low draft picks.
No lottery protection in 2013
Lost in the despair of such a depressing move was what turned out to be a stroke of genius: the Suns insisted on NO LOTTERY PROTECTION on the 2013 pick. (confirmed once again today by Lon Babby directly to me)
Back then, it didn't matter. The Lakers were going to win 70 games, so the pick would be of little value. It was a pipe dream to think that the Lakers would miss the playoffs THIS season, but there was certainly hope that the 2015 pick could be a good one with only top-5 protection. Gasol, Nash and Bryant were getting older, after all.
But whether a pipe dream or not, credit the Suns FO for making the Lakers agree to remove lottery protection from the 2013 pick. They didn't have to ask for it, or require it. But they did.
Just like Sam Presti insisted on removing lottery protection from the 2008 and 2010 picks Steve Kerr handed Seattle/OKC in 2007 for taking on Kurt Thomas. Ultimately, OKC only got a couple of picks in the 20s from the Suns, but giving away those picks without protection proved to stunt the Suns growth in ways not entirely obvious at the time of the trade. The Suns couldn't "tank" or rebuild for years even if they wanted to because their draft picks were someone else's.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. And we're gellin' like Magellan.
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