PHOENIX (AP) - Lon Babby's first priority after being named president of basketball operations for the Phoenix Suns was to find a top-level talent assessor.
The former big-name sports agent knows the business side of the NBA and wanted someone who could complement his ledger skills by finding the right players to put on the court.
Babby got the man he wanted on Thursday, hiring Lance Blanks as general manager.
Considered one of the league's top up-and-coming executives, Blanks joins the Suns after consecutive five-year runs with two highly successful NBA teams and a short playing career.
"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."
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.
Blanks, 43, had better luck in the front office, spending five years in the scouting department of the San Antonio Spurs, who won two NBA titles and drafted previously unheralded players Tony Parker and Luis Scola. He spent the past five seasons as vice president of basketball operations and assistant general manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who won 66 percent of their games during his tenure.
Blanks will take over a team that has undergone drastic changes since reaching the Western Conference finals last season.
Vice president and general manager Steve Kerr left the team at the end of June to spend more time with family and return to his job as a basketball analyst for TNT. Assistant general manager David Griffin also stepped down after 13 years with the organization.
The roster has gone through upheaval, as well.
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.
Phoenix's boldest move of the offseason was hiring Babby, a longtime agent with no background in working in an NBA front office.
Now Blanks gets a chance to pull it all together.