Lon Babby wasn’t ducking the truth on Tuesday when he met with the media to discuss the decision by the franchise to part ways with general manager Lance Blanks. That only means the pressure is all on choosing the right replacement.
“I don’t for one minute absolve myself from the responsibilities and decisions that we’ve made,” the remaining member of the Suns front office said to the media present. “It’s my responsibility, ultimately. I don’t want anybody to misconceive what’s happened here as me pointing the finger or scapegoating (Blanks).”
“We’ve got to do things this in this offseason that begin to build trust and confidence that we’re headed in the right direction,” he added. “I can’t put a finer point on it than that.”
The next Suns general manager doesn’t need to hold general manager experience per se, but Babby said he expects the person to have front office experience.
That presumably puts the Grant Hill rumors partially to rest. Hill would be a non-traditional hire, obviously, but another hurdle to get over is the no-too-smooth parting of the Suns and Hill as a player this offseason. And considering Hill is looking like he’ll ride deep into the postseason with the Los Angeles Clippers, waiting around to speak with him doesn’t bode well with Babby’ push to have a sense of urgency as the draft approaches.
“I think the person just has to be a first-rate talent evaluator,” Babby said as he expects to replace Blanks with someone of a similar role. “… I can’t imagine a circumstance where first-rate talent evaluator hasn’t worked in a front office. I suppose it’s theoretically possible.”
Babby wouldn’t reveal even the length of his candidate list. But he did start the press conference by saying the franchise wanted to remain “respectful of the past.”
“I want to make sure that we acknowledge the tremendous success this organization has had,” Babby said, “be respectful to the people who played here, to the people who coached here and most importantly to the employees that have been here many, many years.”
Hunter still a coaching candidate
Now in limbo and without Blanks’ backing, interim coach Lindsey Hunter’s status is up in the air. He apparently is still in consideration, and Babby listed him as the only public candidate for the eventual permanent tag.
“Lindsey knows he’s very much a candidate for the job,” Babby said.
Babby added the Suns will in all likelihood fill the general manager position before a coach is named.
The summer of analytics
Babby on the goals for the summer from the organization’s standpoint: “I’ve sort of said to our staff that this summer is the summer of analytics. Last summer was really the summer of upgrading our medical facilities, training facilities.”
The beginning of a rebuild?
One potentially concerning part of Babby’s press conference was his repeated statement about this season being the first of a rebuilding process. The point came about twice, and it shouldn’t be that comforting for Suns fans considering many in the industry – including ESPN’s Chad Ford and John Hollinger in their futures rankings – saw this coming from a mile away.
“I think going into the season we expected to be better than we were,” Babby said. “I think at some point during the season, probably about midway through, we were prepared and did embrace where we were.”
Babby on Charles Barkley as a potential GM candidate: “I’ll consider anybody and I don’t want to get into candidates. I think the job requires rowing the boat every single day. And it’s an all-consuming job. And my impression is he has a pretty full and good life and taking on a challenge like this might not be something he wants if he knew what it entailed, but I don’t want to go beyond that.”