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Report: Suns GM search down to three candidates

And then there were three.

10 days after parting ways with general manager Lance Blanks, the Phoenix Suns’ search for his replacement has been narrowed down to three candidates.

According to Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski, the finalists include Boston Celtics assistant general manager Ryan McDonough, Milwaukee assistant general manager Jeff Weltman and San Antonio Spurs assistant general manager Scott Layden.

Weltman was reportedly considered the frontrunner for the position earlier in the week, as he was finalist for the GM job two years ago when the organization opted for Blanks.

But, Weltman will have stiff competition on his hands, especially considering the position will be focused on talent evaluation.

McDonough has spent the past three seasons as Danny Ainge’s assistant in Boston, but also previously served as the organization’s director of player personnel, director of international scouting and director of amateur scouting.

McDonough’s pedigree with the Celtics also is impressive to the Suns. He was a driving force in the drafting of guards Rajon Rondo (No. 21 in 2006) and Avery Bradley (No. 19 in 2010), and has been given considerable responsibility within the Celtics as the top assistant to general manager Danny Ainge.

In terms of general manager experience, only Layden has that on his NBA résumé.

From 1981-1999, he was with the Utah Jazz in almost every role imaginable and worked his way up from assistant coach/scout to director of player personnel to director of basketball operations to vice president of basketball operations. Layden has long been considered instrumental in the Jazz’s decision to draft Hall of Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone in 1984 and 1985.

After his near two-decade stint with the Jazz, Layden took over as the general manager of the New York Knicks in 1999. The Big Apple, however, wasn’t too kind to the 1994-95 NBA Executive of the Year.

In parts of five seasons (1999-2003) with Layden at the helm, the Knicks went 175-181 and made just two trips to the postseason. Layden’s tenure was highlighted by several big moves including trading Patrick Ewing, signing Latrell Sprewell to a five-year contract, trading the No. 7 pick (Nenê Hilario) in the 2002 NBA Draft and selecting Mike Sweeney with the No. 9 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.

He was hired as the Spurs assistant general manager in September 2012.