|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns parted ways Monday with general manager Lance Blanks after the second-worst season in franchise history, the team said.
"Lance has been a trusted friend and colleague," said Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby. "I thank him personally and professionally for his hard work on behalf of the Suns. We will continue to prepare for the offseason even as we look for his replacement."
Blanks had served as general manager since Aug. 5, 2010, joining the team at a time when he was considered one of the league's top up-and-coming executives. But this season was a harsh one as the Suns struggled to adjust after trading away two-time league MVP Steve Nash and letting former All-Star Grant Hill leave to kick off a rebuilding effort.
The Suns finished 25-57, the second-worst record in franchise history behind their 16-66 effort in their inaugural season in 1968-69.
Blanks' dismissal throws the future of interim coach Lindsey Hunter into immediate doubt, largely because Blanks was widely regarded as Hunter's biggest ally in the organization.
But another indication that Hunter is on shaky ground, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com's Marc Stein, is the fact that Phoenix offered its coaching job to Mike Brown both during the season when Alvin Gentry was fired and reached out to him again this month to gauge Brown's willingess to come to Phoenix. Sources say Brown told the Suns he wasn't interested in the job and has since interviewed directly with Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert for the Cavaliers' opening.
In addition to the possibility of returning to the Cavs, Brown has also been projected for months as the most likely candidate to replace Larry Drew in Atlanta if new Hawks general Danny Ferry -- Brown's old boss in Cleveland -- decides to let Drew go after his contract expires at season's end.
A first-round pick out of Texas by the Detroit Pistons in 1990, Blanks had an undistinguished playing career. He 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 spent the five seasons before joining the Suns as vice president of basketball operations and assistant general manager for the Cavaliers, who won 66 percent of their games during his tenure.
Information from ESPN.com's Marc Stein and The Associated Press was used in this report.