Best GM Replacements for Phoenix Suns to Breathe Life Back into Franchise

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2013

Best GM Replacements for Phoenix Suns to Breathe Life Back into Franchise

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    The Phoenix Suns seem to be a team in shambles, as the team's general manager, Lance Blanks, stepped down after just three seasons at the helm (per John Marshall of The Associated Press).

    Under Blanks, Phoenix won fewer games in each successive year, missed the playoffs in every season and went from a team that could call itself a perennial threat to make some noise in the playoffs, to the laughing stock of the Western Conference.

    After loading up on cast-offs, spare parts and amnestied players last offseason, the Suns braced themselves for their first season without Steve Nash in nearly a decade. The impending season was worse than they could have imagined.

    At 25-57, the Suns recorded the fourth-worst record in the NBA and look to be a team with a long road back to recovery.

    Now they're in the market for a new general manager, which means a completely new direction with the team, and at least a season or three of rebuilding.

    Lucky for them, there are a handful of candidates out there who seem ready to take over the team and revamp it into a contender out West.

    None of the names are sexy (they're general managers, not movie stars), but they've put in their time in the NBA front office trenches.

5. Gersson Rosas

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    Gersson Rosas is the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Houston Rockets, and besides having a mouthful of a job title, he is also one of the masterminds behind the excellent player development that the Rockets have exhibited over the past few years.

    Rosas seems more or less destined to find a spot as a general manager within the next handful of years based on his quick ascent in the Rockets organization.

    He's been with the Rockets for nearly a decade, working as the team's personnel scout and video coordinator, vice president of player personnel and director of scouting, and finally their VP of BO this season.

    Rosas spent the previous three seasons as the GM of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston's D-League affiliate. In those three years, he oversaw the team in its D-League championship season back in 2010.

    With Houston being the hottest team in the NBA in terms of solid late-round drafting and statistical analysis, just being mentioned in the same sentence as the Rockets organization seems to add an instant halo of intrigue around an executive.

4. Ryan McDonough

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    Ryan McDonough has been with the Boston Celtics since before Danny Ainge, yet he's not one of the old guard of NBA scouts and directors. In fact, he's quite the opposite.

    In Boston's long list of front office employees, he doesn't have a bio, and he sticks out less than the team's strength and conditioning coach. He's simply listed as "assistant general manager."

    As one of the team's assistant general managers, McDonough joins just a few other people in Boston's small front office under Danny Ainge. The group is small, yet they've made a ton of noise over the past few seasons, picking up on late draft picks and turning them into fine basketball players.

    Just look at their long list of draft success stories in the past decade: From Al Jefferson to Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and possibly even Jared Sullinger, Boston has hit on a ton of picks outside of the lottery. A lot of that has to do with McDonough residing in the team's front office.

3. Tom Penn

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    Tom Penn is the guy who shows up on ESPN from time to time to talk about things that generally make people zone out.

    As a former lawyer and member of the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies front offices, Penn is not only one of the statistical analysts who have populated the general manager ranks lately, but he's also a salary-cap expert as well.

    Penn was a finalist for the Philadelphia 76ers' GM position last summer and was in the running for the Minnesota Timberwolves gig back in 2009 as well.

    He made a name for himself under Kevin Pritchard in the late '00s until Portland went on a front office destroying spree over the course of a few seasons.

    Prying him away from ESPN would give them a guy who knows the in and outs, ups and downs of the salary cap, something that has become invaluable after the new collective bargaining agreement was put in place.

2. Troy Weaver

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    Given an option, every team owner with a vacant general manager position would love to have somebody responsible for building either the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets or San Antonio Spurs.

    With San Antonio's assistant GM just joining the team last season (although he's been around the NBA since 1981), that leaves the Thunder and Rockets to be pillaged at the very top.

    Troy Weaver is the Thunder assistant general manager, holding that title for the past three seasons and working in the team's front office for five seasons.

    Weaver is at least in part responsible for getting the team to scout and eventually draft Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka.

    Most recently, Weaver was the top candidate for the Utah Jazz GM job last summer, deciding to stay put instead.

    OKC executive Troy Weaver was No. 1 target for Jazz GM job, but decided to staying w/ Thunder, sources tell Y! He had worked under O'Connor.

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 6, 2012

    When a guy has worked in a front office from the time when it was in ruins up until their run to the peak, there's got to be something of value to get out of him.

1. Sam Hinkie

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    You won't hear Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey talk more highly of a guy than he will of Rockets Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Sam Hinkie.

    Hinkie has worked hand-in-hand with Morey in Houston's attempt to develop its D-League squad, turn into a full-on analytical front office and innovate in every way imaginable from the front office aspect of basketball.

    He's been with the Rockets since 2007, promoted to the team's VP of BO in 2010.

    There are a ton of crazy buzzwords surrounding Hinkie whenever you give him a Google search, mainly something like "analytics" or "Moneyball," which is exactly the direction that NBA teams need to go in order to grow their knowledge of the game.

    The people who can flip a front office into full-on numbers mode are a hot commodity.

    Don't be shocked to see the Rockets lose both Assistant Head Coach Kelvin Sampson and Assistant GM Sam Hinkie this off season.

    — Matt Jackson (@MJ4Sports) April 22, 2013

    Hinkie was most recently a candidate for the Philadelphia 76ers' GM gig last summer, but they ended up giving Tony DiLeo the reins to the team.