A few random thoughts from the Suns’ offseason:
* As someone who covered the Cavaliers for NBA.com last season, I can tell you the Suns are getting a great guy in Lance Blanks, the team’s new general manager. I really felt like Blanks was ready to run a team of his own after watching him under former Cavs GM Danny Ferry. Blanks worked as assistant GM in Cleveland for five years. He is a passionate basketball man and by all accounts, a sharp strategist. He’ll fit in well with the Suns family.
* Blanks is one of my all-time favorite college players. He played at the University of Texas during the late 1980s, alongside Travis Mays and Joey Wright. The three were known as the “BMW Scoring Machine” in 1989-90. Blanks was a fundamentally sound sharpshooter, a classy player who never seemed to get rattled. He was drafted by the then-champion Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 1990 draft.
* Former Suns GM Steve Kerr is close with Ferry, and knows Blanks well. So Kerr was a big fan of the hire. “(Blanks) and Lon (Babby, Suns President) will make a great team,” Kerr told the Arizona Republic. “They complement each other’s skills well. Robert (Sarver, Suns managing partner) has done a good job of putting a front-office team together.”
* As for the players, I didn’t believe it when I read that Suns point guard Goran Dragic wanted to leave the NBA for Europe after his contract expires (in 2012). Dragic just seems too happy in Phoenix, where he has become a fan (and organization) favorite. Thankfully, Dragic sent an email to a couple of media outlets, politely saying the report was inaccurate. “I am a member of the Phoenix Suns, and my desire is to stay in Phoenix for many years!” he wrote. That’s good news, because the Suns need him.
* I know I keep saying this, but I cannot wait to see two of the game’s premier playmakers, Steve Nash and Hedo Turkoglu, teaming up in coach Alvin Gentry’s system. It makes me wish the season tipped off yesterday.
* Remember the beginning of last season, when the Suns were on the road all the time, yet started quickly? In the process, they silenced a lot of critics and later proved their early success was no fluke. Well, they will be getting a chance to do the same this year — as 11 of the Suns’ first 18 games are on the road. That includes a killer mid-November swing at Miami and Orlando on back-to-back nights. But as one NBA coach once told me (I can’t remember who it was), “You gotta play everybody and go on the road 41 times, so you may as well get the toughies out of the way first.”
* Excluding games on NBA TV, the Suns are scheduled to be on national television 18 times this season (ABC, ESPN and TNT). That’s the same number as last season — although a few games were added at the end of the year, when the Suns were positioning themselves for the playoffs.
* Finally, I don’t expect undrafted rookie guard Matt Janning to be a huge contributor right away, but the kid can really shoot and pass, and there is always a place for those skills in the Gentry’s system. One Eastern Conference scout told me Janning, who played his college ball at Northeastern University near Boston, was “definitely among the top 10 rookies in summer league ball.”
Sam Amico is a freelance NBA writer and regular contributor to Suns.com. His pro basketball coverage has appeared on NBA.com, CBSSports.com, NBCSports.com and USAToday.com. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SamAmicoNBA.