Hornets lure Spurs exec Demps; Suns still without GM

On the same day they introduced Lon Babby as their new president of basketball operations, the Phoenix Suns lost out on the services of San Antonio executive Dell Demps for their vacant general manager post.

According to a report by ESPN’s Marc Stein, the New Orleans Hornets have agreed to bring on the Spurs vice president of basketball operations as their new GM, replacing recently fired Jeff Bower. The Suns interviewed Demps on Monday and offered him a job as their lead personnel man under Babby.

Demps was one of two front runners for the Suns GM position created by the unexpected exit of Steve Kerr after the Suns’ surprise run to the Western Conference Finals. The other leading candidate to take over the GM duties for the Suns is former Portland Trail Blazers assistant GM Tom Penn, according to reports last week.

With Demps now off the market, all signs would seem to be pointed at Penn, a salary cap specialist who also has expertise in the NBA collective bargaining agreement. Talk of Penn has died down with the chase to land Demps, but could now heat up again. The ESPN report also mentioned Milwaukee Bucks executive Jeff Weltman as a possible candidate.

Both Demps and Penn possess the kind of veteran basketball knowledge and experience that the Suns are looking to pair with Babby’s experience as a player agent. While Penn’s skills are more specialized, Demps may have possessed the particular experience the Suns want. Demps has served as the GM of the Spurs Developmental League team, the Austin Toros.

Phoenix’s efforts to land Demps were so serious that Suns managing partner Robert Sarver hosted Demps at his home while trying to get a commitment to make a move to Planet Orange. Sarver said Tuesday at the press conference to introduce Babby that the hiring of a GM would be “Lon’s decision.”