The news of Lance Blanks and the Phoenix Suns parting ways (and what precisely that means is unknown as I write this — was he fired? Reassigned?) is stunning in only one regard; it means the three amigos, the three L’s of Suns basketball, Lon, Lance and Lindsey, are breaking up. It was so easy and convenient to assume they were a package deal and it’s encouraging to see that Babby can read the handwriting on the wall just as clearly as the next guy.
Simply put, Blanks had done nothing to earn the opportunity to make one more important decision. You couldn’t entrust a high lottery pick with the same decision maker who gave Michael Beasley $18 million or decided, in sloppy fashion, that Lindsey Hunter was to be his handpicked coach.
And so Babby, empowered by his new deal, came to the conclusion that many had reached long ago — the Suns can do better. Good for him for resisting what could have been a comfortable urge to give Blanks one more chance and instead opt to venture into undiscovered territory. Not that this absolves Babby from all responsibility but if talent evaluation is the problem, go hire a better evaluator. Clearly one is needed.
As for Hunter, it’s easy to assume (or hope) that with a new GM comes a new coach. Presumably, Hunter just lost his biggest advocate in Blanks. Remember though, that the structure of the Suns front office is anything but typical or traditional. It’s hard for me to envision it, but perhaps he stays.
What I’m curious to see now is how the rest of the league views this opening — a question that will be answered by the candidates it attracts.
From my idealistic perception, I see the job as an opportunity to man an organization that has the fourth-highest win percentage in the history of the NBA. A once proud franchise in desperate need of a breath of fresh air akin to the James Bond or Star Trek reboots.
The pessimist in me sees a business that might have a tough time attracting top talent. A lot of capable people have walked in, and out, of those doors over the last few years. The notion of the Suns as a destination organization feels as quaint as catching a John Hughes movie on late night cable.
Whether the Suns dream big (Phil Jackson), bold (Grant Hill), bizarre (Charles Barkley) or bland (an assistant GM somewhere waiting for his big break), make no mistake — keeping Blanks was an untenable option, one that would have elicited the worst of all reactions.