Lance Blanks press conference. (Photo by Barry Gossage)

Lance Blanks Introduced As New GM Of The Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns held a press conference to introduce Lance Blanks to the local media and fans. Blanks sees the Suns as a winning team and wants to "stay out of the way and not mess things up."

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Lance Blanks Introduced To Phoenix Media And Fans, Insists Suns Are Close To Winning

If you were hoping for some kind of grand vision proclamation or even a strong statement on where new Suns GM Lance Blanks is going to take the team, then this was not the press conference you were looking for.

Blanks, who was introduced by his boss, Lon Babby, made it clear that after only two days on the job, he has no immediate plans to tinker with the team.

"I think with the background here, and what's happened historically, it's pretty obvious that there is a great infrastructure in place to have success, so part of my job will be staying out of the way and not messing this thing up," Blanks said.

That's good to hear. Last thing we want to see is a guy come charging in here with all his years of experience as a GM watching GMs and trying to change things.

Blanks comes from the Spurs and Cavs organizations where basketball was not played the way it is played in Arizona.

Which isn't to say that the Suns aren't trying to get better defensively.

"It is a different style. I know (coach) Alvin (Gentry) has started to institute defense around here. They're saying that a lot more," Blanks explained.

"I love the way that this team has played, even over the years, getting up and down the floor. It's an exciting brand of basketball, and very entertaining. I know that it's been extremely successful, so this team is a lot closer to winning and being successful than it is to not being successful. I'm not so sure that there is a lot that needs to be tweaked in terms of the style of play and the brand of basketball."

Check two. Blanks says he's not here to pull a Terry Porter and put Nash into a plastic bag or anything.

Blanks was hired by his new boss, Lon Babby, for three reasons. First, he's a "basketball genius," according to Uncle Lon. Second, he's a high-character guy who understands the importance of the Suns culture and will fit in. Third, he comes from places associated with winning.

Gentry, who seemingly knows everyone even remotely associated with the NBA, of course has history with Blanks going back 21 years when Gentry was in San Antonio in the early '90s and Blanks was a player at nearby University of Texas.

"I have a very good relationship with Lance. I think he'll do a great job and I'm looking forward to working with him," Gentry said.

Gentry repeated what he's said before about working with the GM.

"I told him, feel free to give any suggestions and we'll sit down and talk and discuss personnel and we'll discuss playing time and all that right there," Gentry said. "Ultimately, I'm going to play whoever I think's going to win games for us."

As for the busy summer the Suns had prior to his arrival?

"They look like solid moves to me, and as Lon said, if the thing works out, thank God that he and I are here, and if it doesn't, I don't know what these guys were thinking about," Blanks said as everyone laughed.

Gentry made it clear who was really responsible for the moves: "It was all Robert. It wasn't me. He's not here to defend himself. So it was all Robert."

Blanks said he hadn't had time to dive into the specifics of the Suns roster so he avoided any talk of future moves, but Gentry was more forthcoming about the team's situation.

"Obviously, size is going to be a little bit of a factor for us as we move forward, the rebounding part of it, but we have sat down and talked a little bit, Lon, Lance, and I; I think the toughest thing to find, obviously, is the real talented big guys to add to your roster," Gentry said. "So, we will have to do as we did last year a little bit, and rebound by committee and things like that. But we like our roster, we like our team."

And so begins the Lon Babby-Lance Blanks era of Suns basketball.

Press conference audio: Blanks presser  082510

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Lance Blanks Draft Record With The Cavaliers

One way us outsiders like to evaluate general managers is by their draft record.

If, for example, you drafted Mike Conley, Jr. with the fourth overall pick in 2007 instead of Joakim Noah (ninth) or Jeff Green (fifth), then you could be a bad GM.

Or perhaps you drafted Alando Tucker 29th instead of Carl Landry, who went 31st, then you might be a ... oops.

The reality is the draft is a crap-shoot under the best of circumstances and, in almost all cases, is a team effort. Scouts, front office executives, owners, coaches and King LeBron all have something to say.

With that warning given, let us look at the Cleveland Cavaliers draft history since Blanks joined the team in 2005.

2005 - No picks. Well done, Lance!

2006 - Shannon Brown, 25th pick. The Cavs traded Brown to the Bulls (who later moved him to the Bobcats, who shipped him to the Lakers) as part of the trade that sent Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden to Chicago in exchange for Ben Wallace and Joe Smith.

Brown didn't do much for the Cavs (or Bulls or Bobcats) and was a throw-in in that trade, but with four years of hindsight, Shannon Brown as a 25th pick seems about right. Let Shannon Dunk!

2006 - Daniel "Boobie" Gibson, 42nd pick. For a 42nd pick, Boobie turned out pretty well. Remember his rookie season where he nailed a lot of threes in the playoffs? And his nickname is "Boobie". We can't argue with this pick.

2006 - Ejike Ugboaja, 55th pick. Enough said ... except Paul Milsap went 47th, so maybe a savant genius moves up a couple of spots to grab him like the Suns did with Goran Dragic.

2007 - No picks. Well done, Lance!

2008 - J.J. Hickson, 19th pick. I think it's fair to say that this was a good pick. A very good pick, actually, as it looks like J.J. will pan out and be a legit starting power forward in the NBA. Of course, this was a pretty deep draft, so Lance could have had Courtney Lee (22nd), Nic Batum (25th) or ... wait for it ... Goran Dragic (45th) if he only had been a sorcerer with his own Crystal Ball.

Still, the Cavs would probably take Hickson again, given the Hot Tub Time Machine do-over chance.

2009 - Christian Eyenga, 30th. Eyenga hasn't done much in the NBA yet, but he's got plenty of talent and will probably be a decent rotation player. That's about what you hope for with the last pick in the first round.

2009 - Danny Green, 46th. Danny is no Taylor Griffin (48th), but that doesn't make him a bad pick in the middle of the second round.

Conclusions ...

What can we surmise from this short draft history?

Nothing.

Move along now and let's wait and hear what he was to say tomorrow when he will be introduced to the local media via conference call.

[Note by Seth Pollack, 08/05/10 6:30 PM MST ]

You should read nothing into the fact that I misspelled Blanks name when this story was originally posted. It doesn't reflect on him or how well known he is. Nope, not at all.

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Official Release: Phoenix Suns New General Manager, Lance Blanks

He's young. He's a former player. He comes from the San Antonio Spurs family tree. He's Lance Blanks, the Suns new General Manager.


PHOENIX - The Phoenix Suns have named former player and veteran NBA executive Lance Blanks the club's general manager, the team announced today.

"After a thorough search, we believe we have found the perfect choice to serve as our general manager," said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. "Lance Blanks is a first-rate talent evaluator, basketball executive and person. We are thrilled that he will be joining the Phoenix Suns."

An experienced and successful talent evaluator, Blanks combines the high basketball IQ of a former player with a 10-year track record in the front offices of two of the league's most successful franchises over the last decade. The 43-year-old Blanks joins the Suns after spending the last five seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers as vice president of basketball operations and assistant general manager, a tenure during which the Cavs owned an overall record of 272-138 (.663).

Prior to joining the Cavaliers in 2005, Blanks spent the previous five seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, originally joining the club in 2000 as a scout. Blanks was then promoted to the role of director of scouting in September 2002. During his time in the Alamo City, the Spurs won two NBA Championships and drafted Tony Parker and Luis Scola.

Selected in the first round of the 1990 NBA Draft (26th overall) by the Detroit Pistons, Blanks spent two seasons with the Pistons and one with the Minnesota Timberwolves, appearing in 142 career NBA games. He played one season in the CBA and three in Europe where he led teams in Hungary and Cyprus to league championships. A former Texas "Mr. Basketball" as a high school standout in 1985, Blanks attended the University of Texas and led the Longhorns to the Elite Eight in the 1990 NCAA Tournament. Blanks' 20.0-point collegiate scoring average ranks third-highest in Longhorn history.

Currently in Senegal with the NBA's Basketball Without Borders, Blanks has been active in the program, which encourages positive social change in education, health and wellness through basketball, since its inception in 2003. He also serves on the steering committee for the Ron Brown Scholar Program, established in 1996 to provide academic scholarships, service opportunities and leadership experiences to young scholars of outstanding promise.

Blanks has two daughters, Riley and Bryn. His father, Sid, played eight NFL seasons with Houston, Washington and New England; his cousin, Larvel, played eight seasons of MLB baseball.

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