Lance Blanks leaves the Phoenix Suns


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.”

[RELATED: Lance Blanks' funniest quotes | A review of Blanks' tenure as GM]

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.


  • a-game

    Its about damn time!!! He sucked as a GM period! Honestly, id give sir charles a look and give him a shot. The suns at this point have nothing to lose.

  • Scott

    @a-game -

    Well, a month or so back when Babby got extended I speculated (wistfully) that it might be because they were going to drop Blanks in favor of someone who knew basketball and talent, but not contracts, like Barkley.

    BTW, the headline here should read, “SARVER FIRES BLANKS” … ;)

  • Scott

    Mark Stein of ESPN, BTW, is tweeting that the Suns have repeatedly sought to hire Mike Brown.

    I vote no on Brown.

  • Scott

    Nike Hoops Summit webpage lists Livio Jean-Charles as being 6′ 9″ and was playing at SF… which should cast doubt on the reports of him being 6′ 11″.

    There were two 7′ players on the world team (Karl Towns and Joel Embiid), plus the 6′ 11″ Mam Jaiteh,

    Livio Jean-Charles did play well at the Summit, earning MVP honors. He had 27 points, 13 rebounds. From the highlights video, it looked like all his points were at the hoop on cuts.

  • Ty-Sun

    Curly is gone… let’s hope they don’t bring in Shemp to replace him.

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    Go for Charles Barkley as G.M.

  • Forever is2long

    I could not believe the Suns finally pulled the trigger on getting rid of Blanks. Just a great move. I think he was absolutely terrible as a GM, one of the worst in the NBA. Thanks in a large part to Blanks, this team has very little margin for error this summer, meaning we could not leave him at the controls when we have two 1st round picks this year.

    Who do we get, well if Phil Jackson says no (highly probable), I am not sure. However I think just about anyone is better than Blanks. I think Sarver had so many reasons to let him go, to save time I suspect he simply stated Blanks things just did not work out.

    Perfect, absolutely perfect. I will sleep well tonight.

  • http://none Keith

    About dang time. Well, Hunter is out now or MAYBE gets his one last year. New GM will want a new coach soon, though. My vote is for Grant Hill. He’s retiring and is one of the classiest, most intelligent guys around. He’s also close to his former agent, Babby. Please come back, Grant! He would give out front office a lot of prestige, and he can grow into one of the top GMs in the league.

  • DBreezy

    I won’t miss Lance one bit, although I thought Babby being retained boded well for him as well as Babby’s recent comments about stability and only a few things changing. I guess Sarver’s words really are the kiss of death as Alvin and Lance were the only ones he publicly praised this season!

    I have the same trepidation I wrote about on the other thread about hoping there is a viable plan in place for replacement of Lance and potentially Hunter as well as the time between now and draft day. Treloar did not get promoted today which means it’s likely only a matter of time before he and others that Lance brought in when they cleaned house leave the scene. Blanks is being fired for poor talent evaluation more than anything, so it’s hard to imagine them allowing his staff touch anything eval related. They’ll get quarantined the way Todd Quinter was .

    This has to make Hunter somewhat puzzled. On the one hand, you can read the Blanks’ decision traditionally and say that the new GM will be given the say on who’s coach and that Lindsey’s likely gone. However this organization doesn’t have a traditional front office setup and according to Gambo’s tweets that’s not changing. The primary criteria is talent evaluation according to Gambo, so they’re just looking for someone to do Blanks’ job better not for additional responsibilities.

    That will likely lead to some of the same issues during this search that it did in the one that yielded Blanks. As it pertains to Lindsey though, the new GM isn’t going to have anymore power over the decision to keep or fire him than Lance did with Gentry. Alvin was never Lance’s guy, but it took a long time for him to be dismissed. Hunter wasn’t just Blanks’ guy, he was signed off on by Lon and Robert so if they don’t fire him shortly, it stands to reason that there’s a pretty good chance that he stays on after a new GM is hired, albeit with a swiss cheese contract. That’s basically what they did with Alvin before. I almost feel bad for Lindsey who in one year and change has gone from up and coming young coaching prospect, to player development guy, to head coach. Now he’s looking at either being out of work with a terrible resume as a coach and a development guy or as head coach of a roster that’s worse than the one he had this season with a GM who didn’t hire him lurking.

  • incubus

    i dont want mike brown here -_-

    i really hope he turns them down.

  • Ty-Sun

    Maybe this is a way for the Suns to actually draw in a big name head coach. Even with the Suns, it might be hard for someone to resist being the head coach AND GM. And they will still have Babby “to wheel and deal from a business standpoint”.

  • john

    You guys who are voting yes for Chuck… are you the same folks who typically criticize Sarver for not hiring established FO members?

    I like Sir Charles. I really do. But what incentive would Sarver have to hire him in light of the fact that one of his main criticisms has been his failure to lure big names to his front office?

    And what reason do you have to hope that Sir Charles would be a good GM other than “he’s likable” and he’s won the rising stars challenge a couple of times during All Star week (or whatever they call that pointless game)?

    Seriously, the more I hear the ideas of some fans, the more I wonder why anyone feels they have the right to be angry at management. There are an infinite amount of possible solutions for every “problem” in basketball, and most of them are bad, as made evident by fan input.

  • DBreezy

    @Scott,

    I have long thought Brown would have been a candidate here because of Blanks, but it’s hard to see him interested in this job now. It’d be like what Flip Saunders did going from very successful teams in Minny and Detroit to the Wizards. That roster was young and flawed, yet it still took a lot of the polish off what had been a very respectable career to that point. Brown coming to a worse Suns roster after the disaster in LA could be suicidal career wise.

    @Foreveris,

    I think you can safely scratch Phil off the list! This could be a tough search as you’re basically telling candidates that they’re GM in name only, but a scouting director in reality. When you look at the skill set that Sarver wants for the PBO job, you’re unlikely to find many basketball people who fit the description. So someone taking the GM job pretty much knows that they’re never going to move any higher in this organization and that their future comes down to some shrewd drafts and roster fillout that gets recognized by others in the league so that they can get the big chair elsewhere. Gambo threw out some assistant gm names from BOS and ATL as candidates, but I find myself asking why would they leave good jobs for what amounts to a lateral with a shaky roster? Hopefully having Lon around now vs late in the summer like in 2010 will help things.

  • Scott

    Maybe there is the perception out there that the Suns GM spot is just a glorified talent scout, but the way I see it, the GM is responsible for everything but contracts, and I’m sure he’s got input into that.

    If anything, it may take some pressure off the spot, as the GM focuses on picking who they want and don’t want on the team, and Babby is the one who takes the heat for contracts that were bad, lowball offers that upset players, and trade rumors.

  • Forever is2long

    Dbreezy I never thought there was a liklihood Phil would come to the Suns working under Sarver. I thought I said it was highly probable he would say no to the Suns.

    I will say this, the longer Hunter goes without the interim tag being removed, the more likely he is dead man walking. A new GM will definitely want his own man. It is kind of the perfect time to bring in a new GM with two 1st round draft choices and an interim coach on board whom he would likely have discretion to replace.

  • Scott

    Also, with the Suns the GM would get credit for genius moves, while Babby wouldn’t.

    Of course, we’ve not seen that in action, because there haven’t been any genius moves yet (unless you count being able to trade away Hedo’s contract).

  • JB

    I think Phil Jackson should come here. If anything, to get back at the Lakers who (mistakenly) passed him up for D’Antoni. Phil would attract free agents to come here this summer. And the man (and his trophy count) demands respect; about 300 times more than Lindsey Hunter gets.

    We would get immensely better with him, and possibly compete for a playoff spot. Only if his name can bring in some decent players though.

    I realize this is HIGHLY unlikely, but we can dream, right?

  • Scott

    Definitely a new GM will pick his own coach. It won’t be Hunter, either. (I could see Hunter going to assist at Detroit, though, depending on who they pick to coach.)

    If the new GM was Barkley, who do you think he’d pick to coach? If Majerle wasn’t already ensconced elsewhere, I’d think it might be him.

    If Majerle is out … is Rudy Tomjanovich doing anything? Paul Westphal?

  • Azbballfan

    I woke up from a nap to find this news! alright! finally some change was being made to get this team in the right direction

    This of course doesnt bode well for Hunter, or the Morris Twins or Marshall

    I have nothing personally against Blanks, his moves did not work out, babby must have done a heck of a job distancing himself from blanks for babby to get an extension and blanks getting canned or whatever the press release said

    give credit to babby and sarver for seeing the light and taking a move they didnt really want to take, people dont usually really like to fire people

    i wish blanks luck in his next job whatever that is

    Now, we gotta look to the future and the draft

    someone mentioned grant hill

    i think names like jerry west and phil jackson are pipe dreams

    obviously any footing hunter had with the organization was with blanks so i expect him to not be retained

    unless hunter has that amnesia flashy thing from men in black and he just memory flash everybody

    Finally this team can start a real plan with a real rebuild

    even if by some miracle you get a big name coach and GM this year, who on the free agent market this summer would be willing to come over here?

    you really would need more than this current free agent crop can give you, i dont think Chris Paul and Howard are going to magically join forces in phoenix

    Since the M&M&M boys of marshall and the morris twins and beasley were Blanks deal, i expect them all to be gone

    clearly, if beasley and those 3 had worked out, or even 2 of them Blanks would not have been canned

    Give Sarver and Babby Credit

    Now we gotta get to finding a talent evaluator

    i would love to have Grant Hill or Barkley in here

    But i need to be honest, if we bring in a beloved former Sun, how are we going to fire them if things go bad?

    Blanks had a lot of rope to hang onto, could the Suns place Sir Charles in here as GM or hell penny hardaway and be able to let them go if it didnt work out?

    i dont know

    Its gonna be tough to get someone in here, lets hope they really do there homework

  • john

    @Scott

    I’d hardly call Majerle “ensconced.” He signed a contract to head coach in the NCAA. Doesn’t that mean he’s required to back out of that contract within two months of committing? In fact, I’m surprised it’s taken him this long to accept a different coaching gig.

  • Scott

    @john -

    Beats me as to what Majerle’s deal is, or how easy it is to get out of it.

    I can see where he’d have an interest in having an escape clause in the contract, because he’d rather coach in the NBA. However, I can see where the college would prefer to have stability and would want him to commit for a period of time.

    If Majerle was feeling his bridges to the Suns were burnt, he might have signed with the belief he couldn’t coach with the Suns any time soon.

    As a fan, I would like to see old Suns players who have loyalty to the team continue to be involved. So if Majerle can get free, I’d like to see him with the Suns in some capacity right away.

  • DBreezy

    @Scott,

    That was the league wide perception of the Suns GM position under this setup in 2010 and nothing’s changed organizationally since then so I don’t see why the perception would change. I think they will start out with high hopes just like they did last time, but that the reality of the roster and the positional parameters will set in.

    I’m also not sure that the new GM will get to pick his coach. Blanks didn’t until he 2.5 years into his tenure and that was only after a miserable start with his roster moves put his job on the line. Conventional wisdom is exactly what you, Foreveris, and others have said as far as Hunter’s future goes. But this place is anything but conventional. I personally think Babby will make the call on Hunter’s future sometime in the next week. If they keep him they’ll announce it then, if not perhaps they wait until the GM search is done but that person will likely be accepting the job knowing who the coach will be. I’m not saying it should be that way, just what the recent managerial history of this team says about who will be making that decision.

    As for who Barkley would choose, if he couldn’t have Majerle, my bet is that he’d like a guy like Majerle or McMillan. After that I think he’d got with an old school guy like Sloan or Collins.

  • Azbballfan

    Oops i see i mistyped some stuff in my post, sorry about that, i cant really read what i am typing so its pretty hard to spell check and all that

  • GeorgeSteenburgh

    Hello Jerry West. Please come to phoenix.

  • Scott

    @DBreezy -

    While I can see Barkley considering Sloan, with all due respect I think he’d reject him for being too old.

    As for Collins, he’s in the process of giving up on Philly because of the constant rebuilding. I don’t see him coming to Phoenix for more rebuilding.

    IMO, Barkley would pick a coach like those guys, though.

  • DBreezy

    @Scott,

    I was considering the question generically as who he would like, not so much about their current availability or willingness to come here.

  • bill.thomas

    If they bring in Barkley, and with Babby already here, I’m going to open a deli right next door to the arena. Now that I think about it, those two would get along together just fine.

  • bill.thomas

    If we’re sure we’re not interested in Josh Smith, it would be worth considering Larry Drew. He is a winning coach and is used to dealing with malefactors.

  • Krash fistfight

    The Suns need to make sure that they bring in some one that fans will love Gm needs to be chuck he has said he want to several times and too finish it you need to bring in a former sun I think Horney would be a home run

  • bill.thomas

    Hey Krash are you Barkley? I’ve never seen you on here before and something (I have no idea what) makes me wonder.

  • bill.thomas

    @Azbballfan: I didn’t notice a lot of misspellings. However if you could use a few bucks for a new keyboard without a broken Caps key, I’d be willing to chip in.

  • bill.thomas

    Of course, Drew is a winning coach in the C League. However, he should not be blamed for where he was hired.

  • azbballfan

    I hope to have a new keyboard soon

    i am finally getting some money back from taxes and all that so things will going good soon

    yeah i seem to remember Barkley saying he did want to be a GM as well

    Whoever we pick we just need to nail this draft, the next draft, and come up with a concrete plan to get this team competitive again

  • bill.thomas

    @Azzbballfan: Just put an ad on craigslist asking someone to donate one and say you’re a starving student. Probably 20 people will contact you trying to donate a keyboard and then you can sell 19 of them for $5 each. Does that sound like a plan?

  • bill.thomas

    Getting serious again, Blanks and Babby together are singlehandly (I know that doesn’t really work, but you get the idea) responsible for the single greatest destruction of value in any major sports franchise in history.

    Despite all the valid harsh rhetoric on here and on BSOTS, does anybody yet really grasp that ?

  • bill.thomas

    If anyone has a counterpoint, I want to hear it. Lon, that means you.

  • DBreezy

  • Forever is2long

    It is being reported mike Brown turned the suns down twice, once when Gentry was fired and again recently.
    If the Suns go with another intern type GM, Eddie Johnson might be pretty good.

  • john

    @Scott

    Sorry, I left out my smiley face. I wasn’t trying to say I know the details of Majerle’s deal or ask if you know them, I was trying to say that since Majerle is an NCAA head coach, I’d expect him to back out soon after committing, just like the rest of the coaches in the NCAA seem to do (I’m looking at you, Chip Kelly).

  • DBreezy

    Foreveris,

    From what I know, guys like EJ and Chambers have wanted to get more involved in the past, but management all the way to the top likes where they are now. Listen to Chambers interview in arizonasports.com. He doesn’t specifically address himself, but he makes some very pointed comments about former players and other personnel being driven off. There’s not much left and even Horny got little more than a courtesy wipe the last time he interviewed. Gambo tweeted pretty quickly after the Blanks news that the Suns will go external for their next hire and you have to figure that info came from one of two people.

  • Azbballfan

    hahaha i love the plan bill!

    Yeah i heard the tom chambers interview, he was pretty mad i would say, and rightly so!

    firing people and hiring people are one thing but everyone deserves to be treated respectfully

    We had a ton of people leave the Suns in the last few years, heck even the dial guy brad casper got outta town in like 6 months of being the marketing guy

    That only makes it harder to get good people, word travels fast when a place is bad to work for

    thats another thing, with Blanks sacrificed at the altar, we dont have to hear this whole B.S. about cultivating the soil and building a garden or whatever corporate b.s. he was saying

    how about what joe dirt says “lifes a garden, you have to dig it!”

  • Forever is2long

    DBreezy, If I was to make a prediction, I would agree the Suns go external and that may not be a bad idea to get a fresh perspective. However I think Eddie has a really good perspective on players based on his unique eye for talent or the lack thereof. Then again I am a little bias because I had a face to face talk with him about players a few years ago. You are probably right they will go outside.

  • Lil Ray

    I say give someone new to the game a chance. I have a Degree in Sports Management and I know I could do a better job then Blanks. I want to win and I know the Fans of Phoenix wants to WIN so bring me in and I will turn things around and that includes getting rid of Hunter and bring in someone that a Phil Jackson. We need banners that say NBA Champions.

  • Lil Ray

    Miss Spell I meant to say someone like a Phil Jackson.

  • GeorgeSteenburgh

    Sarver to Babby I am giving you another year. Make a good decision. Babby to Blanks. OK we know your plan does not work. You are gone. Babby to Babby OK do I know anyone that can evaluae talent. Hmmmmm thats a good question.

    As for EJ. EJ would make a ood shooting coach. The problem is EJ wants to start at the top and be head coach.

  • john

    @Lil Ray

    “Miss Spell.” See: irony.

    @GeorgeSteenburgh

    I don’t know whether EJ wants to start out as a head coach, as you claim, but head coach is most certainly not the head of the totem pole in the NBA FO. In fact, the very position that was proposed for EJ to fill (GM) would be higher up the food chain than the head coach. The pay is similar (some coaches make more than some GM’s, but I’d say most GM’s make more than a typical coach), but the GM is ultimately the coach’s boss.

  • Scott

    I think it’s probably very typical for sports figures to overestimate their abilities to coach and evaluate talent. Fans too, maybe. ;)

    While I would like for Suns vets like Chambers and EJ to be part of a brain trust that advises management, I would also want someone with statistical skills (like the departed David Griffin) to give input. Ultimately, someone is going to have to make the decisions, though, and that person is going to have to be someone everybody respects, and they respect him because they think he makes good decisions (and not just consensus decisions).

    Now, it’s doubtful that Barkley would GM for the Suns because he makes so much more money as a TV analyst. However, he’s probably getting bored with that, he already has a lot of money, and he’s a guy who like challenges. Furthermore, it’s not like he wouldn’t be able to get back into broadcasting; he’s basically the focus of TNT’s program, and having him GM a team for two years would only make him a more interesting subject.

    Barkley would be a guy that the vets could respect, even when they disagree with him. Players and coaches would respect him. And it’s unlikely anybody would be winning a war of words with him.

  • Scott

    Let me also say that while I don’t want Chambers or EJ to leave the broadcasting booth, I think they could also have some sort of formal or informal role as developmental coaches if they wish. Teams always talk about how important it is to set a good tone for the team, especially for the younger players, and I think having a community of quality vets around the players helps.

  • Azbballfan

    I agree with that, someone with credibility is very important

    I see that the Bobcats for some reason just axed mike dunlap

    i have been singing his praises in another post, i honestly dont know what else Dunlap could have done, the roster was exrremely young and had very little talent upgrade form the previous year

    they ended the season on a high note, and every player important to that team, Byombo, Henderson, Mullins and Walker all improved over the previous year

    they trippled their wins from 7 to 21 and thats good not enough?

    i dont see Jordon putting on the sneakers ?

    I dont know who they will get, but Dunlap is worth looking at for a coach, he has alot of college experience and i thought he did a great job at Charlotte despite the fact the team only won 21 games

    obviously if someone better comes along, great but Dunlap should atleast get looked at

  • john

    @Scott

    “[Barkley] already has a lot of money.”

    As long as “the oldest profession in the world” still exists, I’m pretty sure Sir Charles is going to be looking for more cash.