In a shocking turn as we enter the summer, the Phoenix Suns and general manager Lance Blanks are going their separate ways, the team announced Monday in a press release. Blanks and the team had a parting of ways in their words, but it’s no secret that the move is a result of rumbling disappointment from the Phoenix fan base — if not concerns from the team’s owner himself.
“Lance has been a trusted friend and colleague,” Suns president of basketball ops Lon Babby said in a release. “I thank him personally and professionally for his hard work on behalf of the Suns. We will continue to prepare for the offseason even as we look for his replacement.”
Babby, of course, had a difficult time publicly by being tied to Blanks. He and Blanks joined the Phoenix in the summer of 2010 in a new management tree. Where Blanks ultimately was the eyes and ears for the rebuilding Suns following the departure of general manager Steve Kerr after the 2009-10 run, Babby was there to wheel and deal from a business standpoint. Where Babby was there to address the media — quite well, no matter the outside noise — Blanks made himself scarce. And ultimately, Babby was pressured in speaking about Blanks’ decisions, including gaffes without being particularly versed in a pure basketball perspective.
As of Monday, Babby has a contract through the 2014-15 season. Blanks, with only one year left on his current contract, is gone before getting to see his product through. Because of Babby’s contract extension earlier this month being staggered next to the end of Blanks’ deal, hints were thrown about that the duo wasn’t as linked with one another as it might’ve appeared.
Is this an admission of the Suns and particularly owner Robert Sarver that the right moves weren’t made? Perhaps.
Suns fans would hope Blanks’ departure is not the result of a terrible season coming about after the front office truly thought they’d get something remotely close to a playoff team. They hope Sarver realizes it wasn’t going well; confidence in Phoenix’s owner would be greater if fans truly knew Sarver wasn’t just firing Blanks as a fall guy.
And on the coaching front, it also appears Lindsey Hunter’s status was of second priority. With player exit interviews having been done before the season ending for Phoenix, it was a wonder why a decision on Hunter hadn’t been made. That process isn’t a consideration with no basketball mind in charge in the present. The GM position must be filled first, but unlike the last change atop the totem pole, it’ll be done with a decent amount of time before the draft and before free agency.
Update: ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that the Suns had and still have interest in former Lakers and Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. He reported on Twitter that Phoenix attempted to bring on Brown after the Alvin Gentry parting. As of now, however, it looks like Brown isn’t fond of the situation in Phoenix.
Word is Suns reached out to Brown to see if he’d come to PHX now but sources say Brown passed to focus on Cavs (and other potential gigs)
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 22, 2013