- Chris Broussard, NBA analyst
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Lance Blanks was named the new general manager of the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.
Phoenix brought in agent Lon Babby last month to serve as president of basketball operations and his first priority was to hire a GM who could evaluate talent for the franchise.
Blanks and Babby will team to replace Steve Kerr, who stepped down at the end of June to return to his former job as a basketball analyst for TNT.
"After a thorough search, we believe we have found the perfect choice to serve as our general manager," Babby said. "Lance Blanks is a first-rate talent evaluator, basketball executive and person. We are thrilled that he will be joining the Phoenix Suns."
Blanks spent the past five seasons as vice president of basketball operations and assistant general manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers. His departure is just the latest change for Cleveland. In addition to losing superstar LeBron James to Miami, the Cavs fired head coach Mike Brown and saw general manager Danny Ferry resign.
"Lance has been a great person to work with for the last five years," Cavaliers GM Chris Grant said. "He has been a key part of a special group that has helped establish a culture of success that our organization can be very proud of and continue to build off of into the future. He deserves this opportunity and we wish Lance the best as he moves on to the Suns."
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.
After his playing career, Blanks worked in the scouting department of the San Antonio Spurs for five years. He will become the fifth former member of the Spurs organization to be hires as a general manager in recent years, joining Ferry, ex-Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard, Oklahoma City's Sam Presti and New Orleans GM Dell Demps.
Blanks is regarded as a promising up-and-comer among executives in the NBA. He has been mentored by Pistons general manager Joe Dumars, whom he played with in Detroit, and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford.
Blanks will take over a team that has undergone drastic changes since reaching the Western Conference finals last season.
Beside Kerr's departure, assistant general manager David Griffin stepped down after 13 years with the organization. The Suns' roster has also seen significant changes.
Five-time All-Star Amare Stoudemire opted out of the final year of his contract and signed with the New York Knicks. The Suns have tried to replace him by bringing in Hedo Turkoglu, Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress. They also re-signed shooting center Channing Frye.
Chris Broussard is a senior NBA writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
11hMatt Walks, ESPN.com