Halfway into his second day on the job, Suns General Manager Lance Blanks' first impression was to not make too much of an impression on a club he considers to be great.
Blanks just wants to nudge the superlative needle from "great to greater."
Blanks introduced in Phoenix
Despite spending the past decade in Cleveland and San Antonio, Blanks endorsed the Suns' more open style of play. After missing all the off-season action that brought in five new Suns, Blanks hailed the moves that leave him little roster work to do but for adding a big man.
"There's a great infrastructure in place to have success," Blanks said. "So part of my job will be staying out of the way and not messing things up."
New Suns President Lon Babby hired Blanks three weeks ago to be his "basketball genius." Babby cited Blanks' acumen for the game, locker-room presence as an ex-player and his front-office work with successful teams, including the past five years as Cleveland's assistant GM.
"He will have the most influential voice on personnel matters," Babby said, diffusing opinions that the GM role would be watered-down under Managing Partner Robert Sarver and Babby.
Blanks never sought a front-office career after retiring from playing in the NBA and Europe but rose from an internship scouting job in San Antonio into a leadership position. His managerial style began to form under the guidance of Joe Dumars, a Detroit teammate, and was influenced by the mentoring of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Spurs GM R.C. Buford and former Cleveland GM Danny Ferry, watching how they collaborated with staff on decisions and carried themselves in "a good-day, bad-day job."
Popovich, Blanks said, taught "high character, honesty, high integrity and staying the course with having principles and not necessarily being very negotiable with those principles and values."
Blanks, 43, takes over a franchise whose coach and roster are married to a style of play that is a departure from Cleveland and San Antonio, where he sought to add parts and where he jokes he rode the coattails of Tim Duncan and LeBron James. Now, he is ready to grab on for a ride with Steve Nash, one of seven players already in Phoenix for voluntary workouts along with Grant Hill, Robin Lopez, Josh Childress, Channing Frye, Earl Clark, Gani Lawal and Matt Janning.
"I know (coach) Alvin (Gentry) has started to institute defense around here," Blanks said. "They're saying it a lot more. I love the way this team and this organization has played, even over the years. Getting up and down the floor is an exciting brand of basketball and very entertaining. I know that it's been extremely successful. This team is a lot closer to winning and being successful than it is not being successful. I'm not so sure that there's a lot to be tweaked."
His Phoenix arrival was delayed by trips to serve as an NBA ambassador in Senegal and with family overseas. He "loosely evaluated" the roster and admitted "the heavy lifting has been done" with Lawal's drafting, the close to the Amar'e Stoudemire era, the trade for Hedo Turkoglu and the signings of Hakim Warrick, Childress and Janning.
"They look like solid moves to me," Blanks said. "As Lon said, 'If things work out, thank God he and I are here. If it doesn't, I don't know what these guys were thinking about.' "
Blanks pointed to Gentry, who joked, "It was all Robert," deflecting to the owner in his absence.
Blanks replaces a Spurs-era friend, Steve Kerr, who endorsed his hire, and Blanks is clearly eager for the challenge.
"I'm going to wake up in 30 minutes and tell everyone about this crazy dream I had," Blanks said.