- Marc Stein, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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Highly respected player agent Lon Babby has emerged as an unexpected candidate to head the Phoenix Suns' restructured front office, according to sources with knowledge of the Suns' plans.
Sources told ESPN.com that Suns owner Robert Sarver is increasingly interested in replacing the successful Steve Kerr with a revamped structure that includes non-traditional personnel voices as well as traditional basketball executives.
Babby, sources said, is getting strong consideration to lead the new department despite the fact that he has never worked for an NBA team.
Sarver declined comment when reached Saturday night, saying only that he doesn't foresee finalizing his hires for another week or two.
The Arizona Republic quoted Sarver in Sunday's editions as saying he has interviewed eight candidates. The newspaper also reported that the Suns will make at least one hire from a traditional pool of GM candidates even if Babby is hired.
Amid reported philosophical and salary differences with Sarver, Kerr abruptly decided to return to television shortly after the Suns -- regarded as a borderline playoff team coming into the season -- came within two wins of a trip to the NBA Finals.
Several names have been mentioned in connection with the position in the wake of Kerr's abrupt departure, most notably San Antonio assistant general manager Dennis Lindsey. Other names include Milwaukee Bucks executive Jeff Weltman, Los Angeles Lakers assistant general manager Ronnie Lester, Denver Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien and former New Jersey Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe.
ESPN.com reported last month that Sarver was also interested in interviewing Jason Levien, who left the Sacramento Kings earlier this week after two seasons as the Kings' assistant general manager. Like Babby, Levien was an agent before the Kings hired him in November 2008 and used to work for Babby before starting his own firm.
As he proceeds in his search, Sarver has said that Suns coach Alvin Gentry and executive vice president of finance/administration Jim Pitman would serve as the team's primary contacts for other GMs.
If Babby proves to be Sarver's choice to take over, it's believed he will be flanked by at least two veteran NBA personnel voices as the Suns attempt to replace Kerr and top aide David Griffin.
As the Republic noted in its Sunday story, two other franchises in town have employed former agents as front-office executives in recent years: Jeff Moorad with baseball's Diamondbacks and Mike Barnett with the NHL's Coyotes.
Babby, who worked as a lawyer for the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Orioles for nearly 20 years before he began representing NBA players, could not be immediately reached for comment Saturday night.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.
Highly respected player agent Lon Babby has emerged as an unexpected candidate to head the Phoenix Suns' restructured front-office, according to sources with knowledge of the Suns' plans.