According to a Yahoo! Sports report Wednesday, San Antonio Spurs executive Dell Demps and former Portland Trail Blazers assistant general manager Tom Penn have become the two leading candidates for the Phoenix Suns’ GM job left vacant by Steve Kerr’s departure.
The hire will likely work under Lon Babby, who is expected to be named president of basketball operations next week, and will be the Suns’ fourth GM in six seasons.
Demps, currently the vice president of basketball operations for the Suns’ biggest rival, has spent five seasons in the Spurs’ front office. He also serves currently as GM of the Spurs’ NBA Developmental League team, the Austin Toros. Demps played three seasons in the NBA, coached in the NBADL and spent a season as a scout for the New York Knicks.
As part of the Trail Blazers’ recent front office overhaul, Penn lost his job with the team in April. According to the team’s 2009-10 media guide, Penn is a well-known “salary capologist,” with a great deal of knowledge when it comes to handling the cap and the collective bargaining agreement.
Before taking a job with Portland, Penn spent about seven years with the Memphis Grizzlies, where he worked under Jerry West. Before that, Penn was a criminal defense attorney (would have been a good guy to have on staff back in the Jail Blazers day, right?). Penn began acting as a player agent in 1994 and founded a company that showcased American basketball players on tours of Europe.
Both candidates clearly possess the requisite front office experience and are right where you would expect a GM candidate to be. Demps’ experience heading up the Toros’ front office could be a reason to go with him. Penn’s work with West could be a big plus, but the biggest thing working in his favor is his knowledge of the salary cap and CBA, as next season will see a new CBA after a potential lockout.