Suns begin search for next GM

Lance Blanks’ run as a first-time NBA general manager was

unsuccessful, three years of losing that ended with him losing his

job with the Phoenix Suns.

The failed stint won’t prevent the Suns from hiring another

first-time GM or even someone without front office experience.

What they’re looking for is someone who can find the right

players, no matter who it is.

”First and foremost what we need is a first-rate talent

evaluator, kind of a chief talent officer as you will,” Suns

President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said on Tuesday.

”Wherever that leads us, that will be the decision we will have to

make. That person is going to have the loudest voice in the room on

basketball decisions, as has been the case the last three years,

and we have to get that person right.”

Blanks was an up-and-coming NBA executive when the Suns hired

him as general manager in 2010, but he wasn’t able to build them

into a winner – with or without Steve Nash.

The Suns won 40 games in Blanks’ first season and backpedaled

from there, finishing with the second-worst record in franchise

history this season, their first since Nash was traded to the rival


Phoenix parted ways with Blanks on Monday after finishing 25-57,

worst since the franchise went 16-66 in its inaugural season in

1968-69, and missing the playoffs for the third straight


”We went into this season expecting to be better than we

were,” Babby said. ”Right now we are, in my judgment, at the

beginnings of a rebuilding process and our primary mission is to

obtain assets in the form of players, flexibility and draft choices

and go through that process, make progress that is measurable and

not necessarily in terms of wins and losses.”

Babby said he’d like to have a general manager in place before

the NBA draft, but believes the team will be prepared if that’s not

the case. He’d also like to hire the GM before a coach, whether

it’s interim Lindsey Hunter getting the job full time or someone

else moving into the role.

”Lindsey knows he’s very much a candidate for the job,” Babby

said. ”What I said to him is that if all things go according to

how I’d like them to go, would be to get our front office in place

before we make our coaching decision because I think it’s very

important that we have alignment between the front office and the

coach. I don’t want to disrupt that if the timing works out, which

I hope it will.”

Babby said it’s unlikely that the new GM would come from within

the organization, but didn’t rule it out. He also didn’t say no to

the possibility of bringing back former player Charles Barkley, a

popular choice among fans, but considered that a longshot, too.

”I’ll consider anybody and I don’t want to get into candidates,

but I think the job requires rowing the boat every single day and

it’s an all-consuming job,” Babby said. ”My impression is that he

has a pretty full and pretty good life, and taking on a challenge

like this isn’t something he would really want if he knew what it

really entailed.”

Whichever direction the Suns go, with the general manager and

coach, it will be an important step for the franchise.

Popularity for the franchise was at an all-time high in 2009-10,

when the Valley of the Sun became Planet Orange and the Suns

reached the Western Conference finals.

Support for the Suns has gradually declined with each losing

season and frustration levels with the team seemed to peak over the

past year, when Nash was traded to the hated Lakers, fan favorite

Grant Hill was allowed to sign with the Clippers and the losses

piled up.

”This is still a great place to work, a great city to live in,

a great franchise with a great history and we’ve done a good job of

ratcheting down with expectations,” Babby said with a chuckle.

”The people coming in will be in a very favorable spot, but this

happened yesterday and it’s only the very beginnings of it. I’m

confident with our organization, our ownership, our history will

attract the very best candidates.”