HoopsHype Lance Blanks rumors

September 3, 2013 Updates
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April 25, 2013 Updates

A good number of executives felt Lance Blanks got a raw deal when he was fired as the Phoenix Suns' GM earlier this week. Blanks, who comes out of the Spurs' highly regarded front office tree, is respected around the league and several execs thought he became the Suns' scapegoat. Blanks was indeed pushed out front on a few moves that weren't his doing, sources said. While blamed on Blanks, sources say the heavily panned signing of Michael Beasley to a three-year, $18 million deal was president Lon Babby's call. Blanks, having worked with the volatile Delonte West in Cleveland, warned Babby that paying Beasley that much guaranteed money would take away his incentive to work hard and change. But Babby didn't listen and got a disappointing 10 points per game on 40 percent shooting out of Beasley. Blanks also had little to do with the firing of Alvin Gentry, sources said. Milwaukee assistant GM Jeff Weltman, a longtime league executive who has worked for Detroit, Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers, is widely regarded as the frontrunner to replace Blanks in Phoenix. ESPN.com

April 23, 2013 Updates

Three weeks after landing his first general manager job, Lance Blanks was first heard and seen in Phoenix at a 2010 press conference that opened with a glowing introduction from Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. “I don’t know how it could go any more positive,” Blanks said. “It’s probably downhill from here.” It was. A Western Conference finals team fell into non-playoff seasons of 40-42 and 33-33 before crashing this year to 27-55, the team’s worst record in 44 years. Amid the losing, Blanks did not inspire confidence or embrace the franchise. As a result, he was fired Monday with the Suns eating his seven-figure salary for the fourth contract year. Arizona Republic

Blanks failed on the first two. As a personnel boss, he pushed the trade of Goran Dragic and a first-round pick to Houston for Aaron Brooks and prioritized Michael Beasley in free agency. His lottery draft choices of Markieff Morris and Kendall Marshall have been unconvincing. Blanks never became a respected figure, remaining largely unseen ever since his tenure began with the curious statement that he had not researched the Suns roster enough to comment on it. Arizona Republic

April 22, 2013 Updates

The Phoenix Suns today announced that Lance Blanks will no longer serve as the club’s general manager. “Lance has been a trusted friend and colleague,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. “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.” NBA.com

February 21, 2013 Updates
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Lance Blanks on working in two different departments within the Spurs organization: “It was a very fun and great learning experience. I was exposed to many different portions of the organization. I worked with very good people while working with the broadcasting department. Dick Stockton mentored me and I was able to call games and watch games from that perspective. R.C. Buford did a great job with the scouting department and the front office. I was in coaching meetings with Coach Pop and that group, just learning from everyone. It was great training and enabled me to move along with my career and be at a place I am now.” NBA.com

January 25, 2013 Updates

"First off, it was clear that he was the right guy based on what I was hearing from the support staff, from players, and others," said Blanks, who - like Babby - joined the Suns after Steve Kerr's abrupt resignation as general manager and the Sarver-led free agency period in 2010 in which Phoenix added the likes of Hakim Warrick (now in Charlotte) and Channing Frye on long-term deals and Amar'e Stoudemire signed in New York. "And the thing that I kept hearing is that they wanted to have the level of accountability, structure, leadership, honesty, someone who was willing to tell them the truth to their face. And they were all saying — as I saw it, and as we saw it in the interview process — they were saying 'Lindsey' without saying 'Lindsey.' "He's a 17-year NBA veteran player. He's been around the business, roughly, about 20 years. He's worked in front offices, he worked for us scouting for little to nothing. He's a workaholic. He gets in the office at 6 in the morning, easy. He's up late at night with the guys getting shots up. …There is a precedent for (this sort of hiring). We've seen other teams recently who have hired young guys who have played who can relate to the players well and who are willing to develop them and challenge them and make them as good as they can be. It just made sense." USA Today Sports

Blanks said there was another Western Conference team that wanted Hunter on its coaching staff as well, so the Suns were relieved when he stayed put. Yet because of the widely-held perception that Hunter had been deemed the heir apparent on the bench going into the season, his presence put unwelcome pressure on the coaching staff. That much was clear in the reaction of the assistants to the Hunter hire, as Majerle has since eviscerated his former bosses publicly and Turner made the decision to leave. USA Today Sports

Both men were interviewed for the job, but Majerle would later claim that the two-day process was a charade. Blanks, however, swears the two-day interview process that led to Hunter's hiring was sincere. "At no time have I or did I talk to Lindsey about being the next coach (before Gentry was gone)," Blanks said. "I just think it was a function of what happened to him last summer with that interview process. We sat there, and we were going down parallel tracks — 'what do we do?' And absolutely it was a process where we go, 'Well we can interview this guy or interview that guy. We can call someone possibly from the outside in.' We went through every possible scenario. "Why would I put myself and the organization and our front office under so much scrutiny if it wasn't a pure decision. Why do that? That's stupid. So at the end of the day, I did what I thought — along with Lon and (director player personnel) John (Treloar) — what we thought was the best decision for the organization. Lindsey Hunter had no idea we were going to interview him until four or five hours before we interviewed him. If you ask me this every day for 20 years, I will tell you the exact same story…because I'm speaking from my heart, so I don't have to make up stuff, or spin it, or anything else. USA Today Sports

When the news broke that Gentry was out in Phoenix, I shared my admiration for Gentry and noted how he seemed to be the fall-guy in what was a complicated and dysfunctional situation. Before long, I was being called "salty" by someone who would turn out to be the father of rookie point guard Kendall Marshall. A back-and-forth ensued, but the eventual revelation was that Kendall Marshall was a big fan of Hunter's and there was some hope that his promotion would improve his situation. Marshall, who was taken 13th overall out of North Carolina, played in just 11 games under Gentry and played more than seven minutes in a game just once. "Lindsey has had confidence in Kendall," Dennis Marshall said via direct message. "He worked him out every day, sometimes twice a day. They seem to get along well." USA Today Sports

But third-year Suns general manager Lance Blanks — who found himself dousing more flames this week after he had a heated argument with veteran Jermaine O'Neal — insists there's a plan in place that will pay off so long as there's some patience. "I feel, actually, great (about the big-picture)," Blanks said in a lengthy phone interview with USA TODAY Sports. "In this business, you can't wiggle your nose and manufacture success, or rub rocks together. You've got to roll up your sleeves and do the things that are necessary to be successful." USA Today Sports

A request to interview the Suns' president of basketball relations, Lon Babby, for this story was rerouted in Blanks' direction. Blanks, to his credit, was more than willing to detail the controversial decision to put Hunter at the helm and address a number of perceptions about the hire. USA Today Sports

January 23, 2013 Updates

Will Suns let PF/C Jermaine O'Neal go and if they did would he still be the same without Phoenix's extraordinary training staff that has clearly rejuvenated him? No one thought he had something left for an 18th season, but clearly he does. A source says that his dispute with GM Lance Blanks was over the fact the Suns plan to diminish his role, something O'Neal did not want to see happen. With the array of teams that could use even the limited minutes O'Neal could provide as a rim protector and finisher -- including his previous team, the Celtics, along with the Heat and Sixers -- Jermaine assuredly would be snapped up if the Suns let him go. Sulia

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