First of all, we are thrilled with what transpired yesterday in the draft. Everything turned out exactly as we’d hoped. After contemplating various scenarios in which we might have added a pick or moved up in the first round, we felt strongly that we were best off keeping our team intact and simply adding our first and second round choices. We felt that if things played out for us, we might be able to add two players who could help us accomplish our goal going into yesterday: to find players who can help us sustain our recent success, but who can also be building blocks for the future. Only time will tell, of course, but we’re confident we have two new players who will help us make a successful transition to a new era.
Robin Lopez is someone who will help us right away. It’s rare to find an active 7 footer who can run and defend, so we felt fortunate that he fell to us at 15. Robin will provide something we don’t have – a versatile big guy who can get out on the perimeter to defend screen and rolls, but who also has the size and mentality to protect the rim. He’s still raw offensively, but he has a decent touch on a 15 foot jump shot and he is very good at keeping balls alive and scoring on offensive rebounds. Robin will complement Shaq and Amare nicely because he plays away from the ball, preferring to do a lot of dirty work. Terry Porter expects him to contribute right away, so our depth will be greatly enhanced. Robin told us a month ago when we worked him out that he was dying to come to Phoenix, so he got his wish – as did we. This is going to be a great fit.
As soon as we chose Robin, we set out to climb high enough in the second round to land Goran Dragic, a Slovenian point guard. Because Goran doesn’t have a buyout in his contract with Tau Ceramica – a Spanish professional team – until next year, he wasn’t projected to go in the first round. Still, we had him ranked as the second best point guard prospect in the draft after Derrick Rose. Our Director of Scouting Todd Quinter saw Goran compete in a camp in Italy two weeks ago and came back just raving about him. Our Sr. Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin had also seen him last summer in the European Championships, and he was equally impressed. We proceeded to arrange for a private workout last week, flying Goran to Phoenix from Slovenia. He literally spent 17 hours traveling here, spent the night, worked out and flew home. Goran didn’t work out for any other NBA teams, because he wanted to play for the Suns. He’s a huge Steve Nash fan and would like to learn under Steve as his backup. (He is also represented by the same agent, Bill Duffy).
>> Video: Watch Goran’s private workout
We literally called every team with a pick before ours at 48, hoping to move up to take Goran. We were unsuccessful for a long time, and we were losing faith as the round unfolded, thinking that he would be gone. But finally San Antonio agreed to a deal, and we got our man. We believe that Goran has the potential to be our starting point guard in the future, so to fill such an important position with a second round pick would be a coup.
The next step is to work to try to secure Goran for next season, which is possible. As I mentioned, he doesn’t have a buyout in his contract, but he and his representatives can negotiate one with his team. We’re hopeful that something could come about which would allow him to play for us next year, but we’ll see. If not, we will definitely have him for the following season.
All in all, it was a very successful draft. We still have several spots to fill through free agency, but we feel much better about our depth and the overall versatility of our roster. Starting July 1st we can begin to pursue free agents, and we’ll be looking at backup point guards and wing shooters, and potentially another big man. Even though we don’t have a lot of money to spend, we do feel we can add a key player or two. There is plenty of talent available, and most NBA teams don’t have much cap room this summer. Being a good team in a great city, we obviously have a lot to offer here in Phoenix. Players want to come here, so we’ll have an opportunity to improve our team with two or three signings.
As free agency unfolds, we will have a team participating in the Las Vegas summer league from July 11th to 19th. Igor Kokoskov and Dan Majerle will coach the team, which will feature Robin, DJ Strawberry and Alando Tucker. We’re excited to see Robin for the first time, and we think DJ and Alando are making great strides as they head into their second years. Those three will be joined by a group of free agents that Griff and Todd are currently putting together.
We’re going to continue working hard all summer to put the best possible team on the floor for you in October. Thanks, as always, for all your support. Enjoy the summer, and Go Suns!