Posts Tagged ‘Lance Blanks’

Suns Looking Within For Improvement

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With the Steve Nash era over and no sign of a Valley of the Sun-themed version of the Big 3 on the horizon, fans of the Phoenix Suns are bracing themselves for a rebuilding project that could be as painstaking a process as they have witnessed in years.

It’s a fact of life for fans of basically every franchise in the NBA (save for the Lakers), and a reality that the Suns organization is tackling in a somewhat unconventional and rather refreshing way.

Instead of scrambling for a quick fix or looking for some superstar to rescue them, the Suns are focusing their attentions within their program and going about the business of trying to build a playoff contender from the inside. They are making player development the staples of their operation, with 17-year NBA veteran Lindsey Hunter leading the charge as the coach in charge of helping develop homegrown talent.

Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic provides some details:

Hunter began working out players this month with more individualized plans to come in September, when voluntary sessions begin.

“We’re trying to put together a system where we’re no longer looking for outside influences to create a better product,” Hunter said. “We want to do it right from the interior. A lot of people say, ‘You got to go get better players,’ which is true. But you have to make what you have better and we’re serious about it now.”

The Suns intend to hire a young former NBA big man and make the staff available to players “24-7,” General Manager Lance Blanks said.

“This is really important to me,” Blanks said. “It’s not something that was needed. What the organization was doing worked. It won at a very high level. Different personnel and situation. This will create a lot of continuity between front office, coaches and training staff.”


Sans Nash, Suns In Transition

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — This is the time of year for positive spin around the NBA. No matter what moves your team made in July, it’s going to have a positive outlook on the near or distant future.

The Phoenix Suns are one of those teams that’s looking long-term … for the most part. Franchise icon Steve Nash is gone, along with Grant Hill. The Suns have added some mid-level free agents and trade acquisitions, but it will be tough for them to compete in an improved Western Conference.

Suns general manager Lance Blanks sees the Suns as a team in transition, but he’s not not up for going the Orlando Magic route by completely bottoming out for the next two or three years, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports

The roster has changed, but the commitment to a wide-open, entertaining playing style remains — and the front office has done it all with an aim toward returning the team to a sustainable elite status.

“The first goal was to be able to put a team out there that would handle the next era of the organization — the rigors and challenges,” Blanks said. “A transition like that is not always seamless. We wanted to make sure we had people to weather the ups and downs of entering the next era and also find guys whose career paths and trajectories fit the future of the organization. Just about every guy is a fresh-start guy.”


Cavs Make Family Pitch To James


Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — For a franchise that hasn’t garnered many positive headlines in recent weeks, the Cleveland Cavaliers seem to be picking it up at just the right time.

Hiring Byron Scott as coach seems like a perfect fit, with or without LeBron James in the fold.

Their free agency pitch to James Saturday could prove equally insightful, if it went down the way The Plain Dealer’s Brian Windhorst’s described here:

New coach Byron Scott, general manager Chris Grant, assistant general manager Lance Blanks and owner Dan Gilbert were the principals in the meeting. In addition to presentations from Scott and Grant about their plans, sources said the Cavs also planned to show James a cartoon featuring him and his friends as characters.

It was made in a Family Guy style, which is one of James’ favorite shows, and featured some inside jokes related to the team. Those who know James personally know that he loves cartoons, inside jokes and cheap laughs. The central part of the Cavs’ pitch is that they know him the best.

“We had a very good meeting with LeBron and his group,” Grant said after the sit-down. “It went well, it was fun. It was very interactive. Obviously we know LeBron well. I would characterize it as positive.”

To set the scene, the Cavs organized a “fan tunnel” down East 9th Street that eventually drew hundreds who were provided black “Home” signs by the team. A large group of fans gathered around the garage entrance to James’ office building.

When the Cavs’ group arrived in two vehicles, fans tossed powder over the cars to mimic James’ pregame ritual. James arrived a few moments later in a third different car he’s used this week.

“We think it is pretty incredible that LeBron chose to have these meetings here in Cleveland, his home,” Grant said. “We want to thank the fans for the turnout and support.”

The Cavs know James better than anyone.

After all the speculation of the last two years, and especially the last two months, might something as simple as the right approach is what could sway the decision we are all waiting for?

Time will tell.

I’ve said for weeks that I’d be stunned if James bolted for what looks like a better chance to win a title elsewhere, and I’m sticking to with that theory … at least until Monday!