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Suns part ways with general manager Blanks

The Canadian Press

4/22/2013 5:47:01 PM

PHOENIX -- Lance Blanks' short run as Phoenix Suns general manager is over.

The Suns announced on Monday that they were parting ways with Blanks after the second-worst season in franchise history and third straight year of missing the playoffs.

"Lance has been a trusted friend and colleague," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said in a statement. "I thank him personally and professionally for his hard work on behalf of the Suns. We will continue to prepare for the off-season even as we look for his replacement."

Blanks was considered one of the NBA's top up-and-coming executives when the Suns hired him as general manager in 2010. Phoenix won 40 games in his first season in 2010-11 and declined from there, culminating in this season's disastrous finish.

The Suns revamped their roster over the off-season, trading two-time league MVP and face of the franchise Steve Nash to the rival Lakers and allowing Grant Hill, another fan favourite, to sign with the Clippers as a free agent.

Phoenix brought in nine new players, including Nash's former backup, Goran Dragic, along with Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson, former top-10 picks hoping for a fresh start with a new team.

The Suns struggled from the start and cost popular coach Alvin Gentry his job in January. Phoenix then turned to player development director Lindsey Hunter as interim coach, a move that infuriated assistants Dan Majerle and Elston Turner, who left the team.

The Suns continued to struggle after the change, finishing 25-57, the second-worst season in franchise history behind the inaugural team, which went 16-66 in 1968-69.

Babby was recently given a contract extension, but Blanks is out as GM with a year left on his contract.

A first-round pick out of Texas by the Detroit Pistons in 1990, Blanks played 142 games over two seasons with Detroit and Minnesota, then closed out his career with stints in the CBA and overseas.

Blanks had better luck in the front office, spending five years in the scouting department of the San Antonio Spurs, who won two NBA titles and drafted the previously unheralded Tony Parker. He then spent five seasons as vice-president of basketball operations and assistant general manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who won 66 per cent of their games during his tenure.

Phoenix has yet to decide whether to retain Hunter as permanent coach or hire someone else.