Jermaine O'Neal and Suns GM Lance Blanks Reportedly Involved in Heated Exchange

Tim KeeneyContributor IJanuary 22, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 26:  Jermaine O'Neal #20 of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the NBA game against the New York Knicks at US Airways Center on December 26, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Knicks defeated the Suns 99-97. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Phoenix Suns center Jermaine O'Neal was reportedly involved in an "expletive-laced confrontation" with GM Lance Blanks on Monday.

The news comes from Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:

Suns GM Lance Blanks and center Jermaine O'Neal engaged in a loud, expletive-laced confrontation on Monday, league sources tell Y! Sports.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 22, 2013

O'Neal, according to The Arizona Republic's Paul Coro, will now be without the team when it travels to Sacramento to take on the Kings on Wednesday:

Jermaine O'Neal missed practice today with an unstated medical issue and said he is unable to make the #Suns trip to Sacramento.

— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) January 22, 2013

The veteran big man has quietly been a crucial part in what little success the Suns (13-28) have had this season.

While his numbers on the surface aren't exactly eye-popping, O'Neal, on a per-minute basis, has vastly improved his scoring, rebounding, distributing and thefts from his last season in Boston

Moreover, the 34-year-old continues to be a dominant force defensively. 

His 2.7 blocks per 36 minutes ranks him seventh in the NBA among players who have logged at least 500 total minutes on the floor, while his block percentage of 5.4 is good enough for 11th (via Basketball Reference). 

O'Neal may have zero starts under his belt, but it's clear that he has established himself as an important role player off the bench. 

Nevertheless, this is just more proof of the downward spiral the Suns organization seems to currently be in. 

It was just four days ago that head coach Alvin Gentry was fired, and now the general manager is getting into a shouting match with the team's most experienced (by far) player.

That's not exactly a positive sign for team morale. 

We'll be sure to keep you updated as more becomes known regarding O'Neal's status.