It took some “lawyering” as Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby put it, but the trade was made official on Friday as the team acquired former lottery pick out of Syracuse, Wesley Johnson and a protected first round pick. The Suns also received the contracts of Brad Miller, who plans to retire, and Jerome Dyson.
Leaving Phoenix is Robin Lopez (as part of a sign-and-trade) and Hakim Warrick to the Hornets as well as the 2014 second round pick, received from the Lakers in the Nash trade, to the Timberwolves.
“We are trying to do two things. Get younger and accumulate assets and we were able to do both,” explained Babby on Friday. “We didn’t put more emphasis on one or the other. We wouldn’t have done they deal if both weren’t involved.”
Johnson played two seasons in Minnesota after being drafted fourth overall in the 2010 draft. His first two seasons have been seen as somewhat of a disappointment to those who follow the Wolves averaging 7.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 144 games. But he fits a need on the wing as a shooting guard and possibly also a small forward because of his long 7’1” wing-span.
“He is in a situation where he needed a new environment,” Suns General Manager Lance Blanks mentioned. “He is extremely long. He can shoot the ball well. He actually showed that recently in summer league and he will get ample opportunity to show what he can do.”
The Suns now part ways with their 15th overall pick from the 2008 draft in seven-foot center Robin Lopez. In 242 games with the Suns, Lopez averaged 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds. After a very solid showing in the 2009 playoff run to the Western Conference Finals, injuries have held Lopez back from reaching his full potential in a Suns uniform.
The Suns originally planned to bring Lopez back but he made it clear after the end of last season that he wanted his opportunity to be the starting center. That would not be a reality in Phoenix with Marcin Gortat standing in his way. It was not until the Suns received enough compensation in return that they decided to move forward with the sign-and-trade to the Hornets.
Hakim Warrick was another player that was hoping for a bigger role with the Suns after last season. Warrick is a player that loved being in Phoenix but wanted more playing time. Warrick was originally acquired by the Suns in 2010 in a sign-and-trade with the Chicago Bulls. In 35 games, Warrick averaged 6.4 points and 2.6 rebounds.
“When we met with him (Warrick) at the last season in his exit interview, we were extremely complementary of him and his professional,” said Babby of Warrick. “He was the consummate pro and consummate teammate. When he does get into the game he is ready. He did express his frustration despite the fact that he liked it here.”
“Hakim acted in a way that you would dream a player would act, given the circumstance here in Phoenix,” Blanks added.
The Steve Nash trade to the Lakers actually played a big role in this trade becoming a reality. The Suns were able to use the second round pick from the Lakers and the cash the Suns received from the Lakers was used in this trade as well.
Overall, the Suns continue to be very excited about the foundation they are building this summer.
“This is another opportunity for us to move into a new era of Suns basketball,” Blanks stated. “Six new players and maybe seven or eight when all is said and done. All are very young players with the exception of Scola.”
“We need to build a new family with plenty of new family members…but it’s exciting for us,” added Babby.
The Suns also brought back Shannon Brown to the team earlier in the week to a reported two-year, $7 million deal. The Suns will also look to fill a need now at back-up center before they kick off the 2012-13 season.
For more on the Suns, follow Jared Cohen on Twitter at @JaredPros2Preps.