Lance Blanks Rumors
“It was among the most difficult, if not the most difficult, decisions we’ve had to make since I’ve been here…” said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby, who made the deal when Lance Blanks was general manager. “We made the right decision. I’m just disappointed it didn’t work out better for him. “He defined our culture. To be honest about it, when you assess a trade like that, we gave up intangibles that we’re still trying to replace.”
The Suns obviously disagree. They were willing to move the L.A. pick for the right player, and even offered it to the Bucks after Milwaukee turned down a direct Dragic-Knight swap, per several league sources. “Everybody loves the L.A. pick,” says Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough. “The concept of a pick is great, but it’s more of a sure thing to get a 23-year-old who is a borderline All-Star in the East.”
The Suns had a counselor/mentor dedicated to Beasley to travel with the staff and General Manager Lance Blanks went out of his way to have a peer friendship with Beasley, meeting often after practices with him to the point that they would even play-wrestle on the court. He held onto his starting position for 20 games until early December and even lost his rotation spot at times, even after the coaching change from Alvin Gentry to Lindsey Hunter. “Obviously, we’re disappointed he didn’t have more success here,” Babby said. “We went into the relationship with our eyes open and understood the calculated risks we were taking. Those risks turned out to work against us. There comes a point that the maintenance of our highest standards was paramount.”
New Suns general manager Ryan McDonough is said to be eager to move Beasley out as part of the ongoing reboot in Phoenix in the wake of last season’s 25-57 mark, followed by the offseason ouster of previous GM Lance Blanks.
Jeff Weltman, as has been reported, is the frontrunner to be the Phoenix Suns’ next GM, and one source said he was team president Lon Babby’s preference when he first joined the Suns but that owner Robert Sarver was eager to tap the San Antonio Spurs’ braintrust and therefore preferred the now-deposed Lance Blanks. The bigger question is, how much longer will Sarver be calling the shots? One source says the increased evaluation of franchises inspired by the Seattle-Sacramento fight over the Kings has Sarver wondering if it’s time to cash out.
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.