The Phoenix Suns’ search for an ace talent evaluator has concluded as the team announced Thursday it has hired Lance Blanks to fill the vacant general manager position below new president of basketball operations Lon Babby.
The Suns announced the hiring in a Thursday afternoon press release shortly after ESPN’s Chris Broussard first broke the story on Twitter.
“After a thorough search, we believe we have found the perfect choice to serve as our general manager,” Babby said in a statement. “Lance Blanks is a first-rate talent evaluator, basketball executive and person. We are thrilled that he will be joining the Phoenix Suns.”
Blanks, 43, played in the league in the early 1990s for the Detroit Pistons (two seasons) and Minnesota Timberwolves (one season). He later moved into a scouting role with the San Antonio Spurs, eventually rising to director of scouting while also spending time as a TV analyst for the Spurs. In 2005, Blanks joined the Cavaliers and was recently promoted to the team’s No. 2 front office position after the departure of Danny Ferry.
Blanks replaces three-year Suns GM Steve Kerr, who left earlier this summer, but questions remain about how much influence Blanks will retain in a front office in which he’ll be working under Babby as well as owner Robert Sarver, who often has an opinion or two and isn’t afraid to share it.
Blanks and Babby will presumably answer some of those questions on a 3 p.m. MST conference call with reporters on Friday.
In any case, this will only work if Blanks and Babby can create the kind of chemistry the 2009-10 Suns possessed on the court, a chemistry that’s uncommon in front offices where executives often try to hog all the credit for good moves and take none of the blame for decisions gone awry.
The Suns need Babby’s collective bargaining and negotiating acumen and Blanks’ scouting abilities to mesh to create a well-rounded basketball operations department, just as Sarver planned it.
Being that Blanks served as a director of scouting for those vaunted San Antonio Spurs (side note: anybody else find it strange that all of Phoenix’s top candidates including their eventual hire possessed Spurs roots?), he certainly makes sense in this spot. The Suns were not looking for a Kevin Pritchard, they needed somebody with a scout’s background, and in that regard the Blanks hiring is a success.
I look forward to hearing his answers tomorrow about foregoing his ego in a role that some could say is that of a glorified scouting director, but in any case this is an undeniable promotion for Blanks, whose hiring could give the Suns the scouting whiz their front office craves to complement Babby.
Tyler Lockman contributed to this report.