Suns shouting match? Jermaine O’Neal, GM Lance Blanks get into it


Count Jermaine O’Neal among the “old guard” unhappy with the new changes in Planet Orange. The Suns’ backup big man reportedly got into a post-practice shouting match with general manager Lance Blanks, according to Yahoo! Sports insider Adrian Wojnarowski.

O’Neal, according to a report from The Arizona Republic‘s Paul Coro, was already scheduled to miss Phoenix’s Wednesday road game against Sacramento with an “unstated medical issue.” That issue may have been more emotional than physical if the argument was as vehement as Wojnarowski’s sources indicated.

WACKY WEEKEND

Jan.  18 – Suns fire Gentry

Jan.  20 – Suns promote Hunter

Jan. 20 –  Majerle leaves Suns

Jan. 21 – O’Neal, Blanks argue

With the Suns in complete disarray (13-28, worst in the Western Conference), Blanks and the rest of Suns management decided the team was in need of a different direction, though apparently not everyone is pleased with the ultimate decision on how to go about it.

The confrontation is the latest of several reported rifts from within the organization following the hiring of head coach Alvin Gentry and the promotion of Lindsey Hunter, formerly the team’s player development director. Hunter’s hiring came at the expense of more experienced candidates in Suns assistants Dan Majerle and Elston Turner.

Majerle has already left the team after being passed over, and Turner may not be far behind.

Hunter’s prior position in player development has many thinking he will dole out more playing time to the Suns’ younger players, including second-year forward Markieff Morris and rookie point guard Kendall Marshall.

At age 34, O’Neal is the team’s oldest player and just one of two older than 30 (Luis Scola is the other).

Tags: Lindsey Hunter

  • Grant

    Props to JO. At least someone of these soft yes-sayers has the balls to speak out his mind. I don’t know what he said but I’m sure he was right.

  • john

    “I don’t know what he said but I’m sure he was right.”

    Seems like you don’t have any preconceived notions.

    I wonder who is going to survive all the way to the end of the season. When something like this happens, it’s a bad sign for everyone’s job security.

  • azbballfan

    this is total bullshit and Sarver needs to come down here and straighten this shit out ASAP

    I cant imagine the game against Sacramento is gonna go well!

    god this is whole thing is pathetic

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Out of all this that is happening, I just hope Aaron Nelson doesn’t leave because I know there are 29 other teams that would hire him instantly.

  • Kendall Marsall

    Hope we ship JO out he’s not a leader. He does nothing for this team…

    #PASSFIR5T

  • Ty-Sun

    For all we know, Blanks could have just told JO that he was being traded to Domino’s for a pepperoni pizza. But it will be very interesting to find out what was actually said and what it was actually about… if we ever do find out.

  • Ty-Sun

    Who the f__k is Kendall “Marsall”?

    If you’re going to make posts under a false name, at least spell it right! ;)

  • Scott

    I wonder if O’Neal was acting as a voice of the players, saying, “You know we called for Majerle, not Hunter. So why did you tell the press we wanted Hunter? Do what you want, but don’t misrepresent us.”

  • Michael

    Aaron leaving the Suns would be a disaster. Anything else that´s happening now… well, at least sth is happening. Change is not the worst thing when you are at the bottom.
    But Aaron is not replacable.

  • john

    @Ty-Sun

    If we ever do find out, that would be a terrible thing. Stuff like this is supposed to stay within an organization, which is why claims like DBreezy’s from the other day that an “inside” source of his confirmed to him the league’s general disdain for Sarver are so concerning. If your people can’t keep crap in-house, then it’s time to get new people. Hopefully we never find out about any specifics, and are only left to guess based on the ensuing benching/trading of O’Neal and/or the ensuing firing of Blanks (hoping for both of those scenarios to come true).

  • http://phoenixsuns.com Suns fan on LOA

    all the uper management is looking out for is their friends, not the orginization. I cannot believe how Sarver has turned this once well respected franchise into the laugh of the NBA. JO is the veteran leader we need. Someone who will call out the issues. The Suns roster is full of role players. No one can take over the game on a nightly basis, so they blame the coach? Upper management is a joke.

  • azbballfan

    Trade Marshall, Trade Beasley, Fire Blanks

    Get these people out of here

    come on Sarver take control of your damn team

    you cant have people getting into fights like this it looks really, really bad

    I wonder how many fans are gonna show up at the next suns home game

  • Dan

    This out of control train wreck continues….LON BABBY couldn’t recognize talent if it bit him….SARVER pinched pennies for so long he killed the once proud franchise & wouldn’t pay Steve Kerr or Brian Colangelo…BOTH of whom knew what they were doing…

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    More trouble on The Good Ship Lollipop ?

  • Scott

    @azbballfan -

    The order of action is important. Blanks has to go first.

  • Scott

    It occurs to me that if Sarver wants to fix things, one of the better moves he might make would be to fire Lance Blanks and promote Mark West to GM.

    Considering how the cards are laid out at present, it might be one of the better steps to take.

  • dc

    @Scott agreed Blanks has to go first, he along with the rest of the front office has killed this franchise. It will take years to rebuild what was respectable..

  • Ty-Sun

    Not long ago it irritated me a bit when people made flippant posts here. Now I’m not so sure that serious posts should be made about this franchise. But out of respect for the staff here at VOTS and the Suns’ players, I’m going to try to keep my posts serious.

    If JO was yelling at Blanks, I’m sure he had good reason. I’d love to have the chance to yell at Blanks myself. Perhaps JO was just trying to “forcefully” let Blanks know that he wants to be traded… to ANY other team.

    After all of this, I can’t imagine any player actually wanting to become – or stay as – a member of the Phoenix Suns.

  • Scott

    @Ty-Sun -

    There are still plenty of players trying to break into the NBA or trying to stay in. Those are the players who would sign (or re-sign) with the Suns.

    Take Shannon Brown, for instance. I think he’d rather be with the Suns than out of the league.

  • Cam

    This Suns organization is, in the words of the great Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria! Go Suns.

  • Lindsey Hunter

    Its so hilarious reading all these cry baby posts. “Fire Blanks, Fire Babby, Fire everybody, they ruined this franchise… etc”

    Why dont you guys grow up and realize that teams go up and down. Thats just how it works.

    Boston sucked for years before getting KG, Allen, and Rondo. Clippers sucked forever till they finally found their franchise players. Lakers sucked for a few years pre Gasol and suck right now. Memphis sucked before Gay developed and ZBo started beasting. NYK sucked. NETS sucked.

    You guys act like it we had a choice. When your best players are over 35 and you arent making the playoffs, you gotta make a change. Trading Nash was the right move and we got well compensated.

    Anybody who has a brain saw this coming. There is not one franchise in sports history that hasnt been bad for a little bit. Start looking at things objectively and quit being emotional babies…. you guys are annoying.

    Blanks and babby have set us up to become competitive again asap. 10 draft picks in the next 3 years, huge cap space, and young guys we are test driving to see if they will be part of our future.
    This is a rebuild, and they are trying to get it done as quick as possible. If you cant see that, your a freakin idiot.

  • Ty-Sun

    @Scott

    Let me rephrase my previous comment.

    “After all of this, I can’t imagine any GOOD player actually wanting to become – or stay as – a member of the Phoenix Suns.”

  • that dude

    Good for u Jermaine, telling them like it is!! Its not Blanks fault or Babbys fault that the team is where its at guys! The blame has to fall on Sarver for putting these guys in a position that, essentially they’ve never been in before! I mean these guys cant run a franchise worth close to a half a billion!! PLAIN AND SIMPLE! Sarver has been pinching pennies for a while now, and the next couple years for this franchise will be rough unfortunately. Sarver has to sell and I believe there is someone out there that can turn the franchise back around and be more respected.

    This is pathetic. I hope Jermaine comes out and tells it how it went down but that aint happening anytime soon. Ive never been ashamed of the Cardinals when they were winning 4 games a season, but I can honestly say I am ashamed of what the front office has turned this franchise into.

  • Michael Beasley

    Ay yo coach. Can I start again?

  • Ty-Sun

    This “changing of the guard” seems to have become a fiasco. I don’t want any of my previous comments to be taken in any way as disapproving of any of the Suns TEAM members. I also think Gentry did the very best he could with the team he was given and I don’t blame him at all.

    The fiasco is this “transition”.

    It is ugly to say the least.

    Gentry, gone. Hunter, promoted. Majerle, quit. Turner MIA. O’Neal and Blanks, yelling at each other after practice.

    Sounds more like the WWE than the NBA.

  • that dude

    Im pretty sure Kerr wouldnt have signed Hedo 4 years past his prime years or give Chilly a ridiculous amount of money with all the SFs we had.

  • Kendall Marsall

    You “fans” have no idea what is going on with our team, just stop…

    Stick to watching me play

  • Andy

    @Lindsey

    Thank you!

  • DBreezy

    @Scott,

    I thnk you may have hit the nail on the head about what started the argument as none of the reporters who claimed that the team backed Majerle instead of Hunter have backed off their claim. Blanks lied and it seems clear that Babby lied when characterizing both the nature of the conversation and his relationship with Gentry-not the first lie for Lon.

    There’s a great line in the Notorious BIG’s song ‘What’s Beef’ where he says, ‘make my name taste like ass when you speak it,’. Looking at the various reactions to Lance and Lon brings that to mind for me. The Suns have had trouble attracting their primary targets for bench and front office spots in recent years when they were in much better shape than now. I really think they’ll struggle now. If I was a Mike Budenholzer or Mike Malone, I wouldn’t take this job. They don’t even have the talent that the Mavs and Wolves had when they hired Rambis and Cleammons both considered up and coming at the time now they’re in a wasteland and may never get a head spot again. I think they’re stuck with Hunter until they get at least two promising young prospects. I also shudder about the ‘coffin corner’ where Babby and Blanks must go, but the Suns struggle again to get suitable replacements to accept the job.

  • DBreezy

    Btw has anyone else noticed that the proverbial blue wall has fallen this season? Traditionally the local media have somewhat protected Sarver and organization. A lot of the stuff they’ve responded to was first reported by national reporters. A lot of the negative stuff was innocuously releasd years later (ie Coro admitting that it was Sarver not D’Antoni who wanted picks traded or Kerr finally admitting the deal with the KT trade on a TNT preseason broadcast). They didn’t grumble too loudly when Porter put out a gag order although it clearly chaffed at them and they’ve been pretty nice to Babby and especially Blanks considering. Now it seems like everything is an open book and that locker room is leaking everywhere with almost instant media reports.

  • Harry

    Lindsey Hunter,

    I agree that people are blowing this thing out of proportion. Fans and media alike are being ridiculous. While I disagree with the specific hire of Hunter, the net effect of everything is a huge net positive. Gentry just wasn’t a very good coach. This is the third time he’s been let go midseason. He had won less than 44% of his games prior to coaching here and he only ever won a playoff series in one year. 2010. Losing Gentry was a blessing, and it was doubly wonderful that Turner is gone (hopefully).

    I wanted Kokoshov but at least he’s the head assistant. Let him change this thing Gentry called an offense. Concentrate on Dragic and Gortat and see what you have. They played like near All Stars last year. See if they really are that good. Play the young players but play like a team.

    It’s funny, I watched Chicago put a beating last night on the Lakers with a starting line-up of Noah, Butler, Hinrich, Hamilton and Boozer. Phoenix has a better line-up. More talent, but the coach couldn’t get it out. So, good luck Lindsey.

  • john

    The media goes with and defines what’s popular, and it has been very popular to hate on the PHX FO. Whatever sells.

    Also, I don’t remember Kerr blaming Sarver for that Thomas trade. I thought Kerr basically said, “We were going to be way over the cap, management told me to get under it, and I opened my GM days with a dud as a result.”

    It’s tough listening to all this negativity. The more it’s fed, the more likely my fears of the Suns leaving PHX seem.

    Blame everyone but the guys on the court, that seems to be the way things go in the Valley.

  • Ty-Sun

    @john

    The “Sacramento Suns” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

    I’m sure a lot of Sacramento fans said, “No way the Kings will ever leave town!”

    Welcome to Seattle, Kings/Sonics!

  • Scott

    @DBreezy -

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Malone was in on this plan from the beginning, and was just counting the days till his head coaching job with the Suns.

    Not saying that in a mean way, but I’d assume Blanks has spoken to him and tested the waters.

  • DBreezy

    @Scott,

    I don’t doubt that he could have talked to Malone at some point, possibly even recently, but that doesn’t mean Malone doesn’t realize what a mess this is. There was a time many assumed Doug Collins was in Kerr’s back pocket as a D’Antoni replacement. If Lance and Lon are around I still expect Hunter to be here next season, although I still expect a lengthy search before that is final.

    @John,

    I think it’s been popular to hate on the Suns front office for fans, but from the local media at least this is a relatively new phenomenon. Kerr did admit that he was under orders from above, who could that be?, to make that move. If you recall at the time the trade was made he gave a different reason when pressed. He said that D’Antoni wouldn’t play a true big and that Marks would be a good fit for him. Marks who never played vs KT who was a rotation player his whole time here save for when he was coming off a long injury layoff in the WCF. He was full of it on that one, protecting his boss and taking a jab at his head coach that was a hint of things to come with them.

    Also how much blame are players going to get when most of them have been playing hard and most of them won’t be here for much longer? The only players who have to be on the roster next season without a trade are: Dudley, Frye, Scola, Marshall, Morris and draft picks x, y, and maybe z. I don’t think the Suns will be moving anywhere, but I do think this has the potential to get really ugly.

  • SHAZAM

    the majerle food establishments are doing great…so lets hire thunder dans bizz partner to coach the suns..hes the one who does all the work and makes the decisions…dan is just a face w/ good pr…he should settle back in to coaching a few six packs a night

  • Harry

    LOL at people thinking this will result in the Suns moving or even that it will amount to more than a hill of bean in the long run. I think this management team has been awful but teams fire coaches all the time with little long-term effect. This one has some drama but it will be just history in a couple weeks.

  • azbballfan

    This is total bullshit

    Being a losing team is no excuse for the front office to play favorites and act in this disrespectful manner towards the fans, media, and other Suns player that disagreed with the hiring of hunter.

    You people represent the SUNS GOD DAMMIT!

    a organization that the valley basically has worshiped since 1968

    Clearly there are atleast two people that wanted Gentry gone because they were selfish and wanted playing time so they whined to Blanks

    You have to earn everything you get, and you know what, Beasley and Marshall are young and playing behind veteran players!

    If that was Hunter i just lost all respect for him

    Sarver has to fix this shit, this is just insane

    You guys should be ashamed of yourselves

  • Harry

    I think you forgot your meds today.

  • john

    Just so we can be sure one of us actually knows what we’re talking about regarding the Kerr situation,

    ” “There are so many trades made these days that are lousy trades that are made for financial purposes,” Kerr told KNBR. “I mean I made one of the worst trades in NBA history. I traded Kurt Thomas and two first-round picks to Seattle for nothing, to save $16 million for our organization. Where was the NBA then to veto that trade for basketball reasons? That had nothing to do with basketball reasons.”

    Basically exactly what I said. He got the directive to save a bunch of money. That was his solution.

  • Craig

    I’m a little worried. Living in Idaho, I only get to one Suns game a year. This year it’s at Utah in the end of March, however, I’m not sure there will be a Suns team to see. They seem to be imploding fast!

  • George

    Ownership will know if they did the right thing if the house is empty maybe then Sarver will fire Babby and Banks.

  • Scott

    Heh. What would be funny now is if the Suns win their next game, decisively,

  • George

    I expect they will respond to a new coach. Especially as SAC as long about 90 in a row.

  • DBreezy

    @John,

    Not sure I follow you. I’m saying that at the time the move was made Kerr lied about why it was done and told the truth much, much later. Be it the interview you posted or what he said on TNT what’s the difference? Both occurred well after the deal was done. It’s not like it was hard to figure out why they did it, I’m just saying the local media at the time gave them a big pass on it. One I don’t think this management team would get. Again my main point was that there has been a shift in how the local media covers the team.

  • m.i.milliman

    It’s not crying to call a pig a pig. It’s just observation. The draft picks are nice, too bad it’s B&B doing the picking and Sarver doing the paying. It would be stupid to ignore history and history says this current front office doesn’t have a clue.

    It would be insane to say this was their plan all along. Who would plot out this course of action? Yes teams go up and down, and I’m sure the fans of those teams hated it too. We as fans pay money to see this team play, I’ve flown down, multiple times from Alaska, to see them play, and flew my family out a year ago so my girls could see Nash as a Sun because I knew his time was short. This front office is so predictable. So don’t whine to us because we’re upset our money is going towards the worse ran franchise in the NBA. It’s a slap in the face after you just stole our wallet. We care, more than Sarver, so sue us.

    Long live Thunder Dan!

  • SHAZAM

    oneil has several tweets out now adamantly denying issues w/ fo and calling out the bs person who lied to the media

  • john

    No, you said Kerr was under orders to make THAT move. What I am saying is Kerr was under orders to make A move. Gigantic difference.

    I agree about the shift in media coverage, I disagree with the notion that Sarver came up with the idea for the Thomas trade.

  • john

    O’Neal trying to save his job or did Woj really just make up a crap story about the Suns? Hmmmm… Woj does have a special kind of hate for Sarver.

    See what I mean, Tony?

  • m.i.milliman

    @ John

    Sarver has had a history of selling picks for cash. He has no idea how valuable they are or can be. So people can be forgiven for reading into a situation. That’s what intelligent observers of the game do, make educated conclusions based on history. Rondo anyone?