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When Grant Hill left the Phoenix Suns last summer, he expressed surprise on the local radio waves. He had wanted to return to the Suns, having settled into a community where his wife and kids still reside a year later.

Phoenix is a great city in which to live, one of the "top five destinations in the NBA", according to Jared Dudley last fall.

Staying in Phoenix for the sake of a family who set roots in the Valley was theme over the past year while the team experienced major turnover. Not only did Steve Nash lament having to move away from the family, so did Grant Hill and later Sebastian Telfair. Jared Dudley has a family here too, and always wanted to stay in town.

During his press conference announcing the ouster of GM Lance Blanks, Suns President of Basketball Operations admitted the Suns handled the roster turnover poorly (and coaching staff turnover, for that matter).

Lon Babby said the Suns "lost our way a little bit", later adding to Doug and Wolf on arizonasports/620: "We should have been more respectful of what had been accomplished here. We weren't as sensitive as we should have been. It's not going to be like that going forward."

Might that mean a return of some of the previously ousted loyalists?

Certainly, Babby believes the Suns lost leadership this season. "Is the leadership at the same level as it was before? No."

Dan Majerle already has another job. Steve Nash is under contract for two more years. Elston Turner wasn't really a Suns loyalist, so we can likely rule him out.

Grant Hill is one former loyalist to be available soon. He becomes an unrestricted free agent as soon as the Clippers season is over, and has already hinted at retirement.

"I'm 40 - come on," he said to the Orlando beat reporter last month in reference to returning for another season.

Could Babby be itching to call Grant Hill soon?

"I love Grant Hill," Babby said of Hill last week on the radio show. "I worked with him for 17 years. Those relationships are always strained when you move into different positions. That's the reality of it.

"I have said many times that I would always look forward to the opportunity of working with Grant in any capacity. That doesn't necessarily mean that he's a candidate for this [General Manager] job. But if he wants to come back and rejoin this organization I would be open and willing and excited about talk to him about it, and see if there was something that made some sense.

"Any time you have an opportunity to add that kind of manpower in your organization you have to sit up in your chair and think about it and talk about it."

Don't expect anything soon, and don't expect Hill to jump at the chance to join the Suns organization again. But Hill's family still lives in town, with no intention to move. That's a big draw - big enough for Hill to want to stay with the Suns last year even with Nash moving on.

But Hill is still under contract with the Clippers, who have no intention to take summer vacation before mid June if they can help it.

"I'm guessing he's going to unavailable for the next couple of months," Babby said.

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Jason Collins made the announcement in a Sports Illustrated story, which can be found online here, where he details his experience as it has led to this watershed day.

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay," said Collins.

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."

I, for one, think it's about time. Jason Collins, brother of former Sun and future ring of honor inductee Jarron Collins, should be applauded for his decision. I have both friends and family members that are in same sex relationships. Their sexuality in no way affects my relationship with any of them. It never even enters the discussion.

People are sure to have different opinions and leanings on a topic like this, but I am a proponent of people being able to live their lives how they would like to as long as they aren't impinging on the rights of others. Hopefully this helps pave the way for other athletes, and people in general, to live their lives without the fear of being eschewed or shunned.

Change often doesn't happen without resistance or controversy, but today... change happened.

With the Suns’ season over and the offseason already in full swing as the team searches for a new general manager and a head coach, questions are aplenty. So instead of the traditional 5-on-5...

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Picture in your mind the bar scene from Star Wars. For those not with us in 1976, here's what I'm talking about as re-enacted by the Great Richard Pryor (and if you don't know who he is then we can't be friends).

That's what this Network-wide Open Playoff Thread Game is and forever shall be. It's a big bar scene with NBA freaks fans coming together to chat about Star Wars.

Be friendly to the alien life forms you might encounter here or the thread's bouncers might be forced to BLAST YOU with their laser blaster ban pistols.

"These are not the trolls you are looking for."

Sunday's Playoff Game Schedule:

GAME 1: New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics at 1pm ET / 10am PT on ABC

The Knicks lead 3-0 and will go for the sweep over their big bros to the north but will be w/o the elbows of J.R. Smith who's serving a suspension for laying too much pipe. Seriously though, who among us hasn't dreamed of elbowing Jason Terry in the grill?

CelticsBlog | Posting and Toasting

GAME 2: Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks at 3:30pm ET / 12:30pm PT on ABC

LeBron will sweep the Bucks. Game over. Open your beer now and pour one out for the Bucks.

Hot Hot Hoops | Brew Hoop

GAME 3: San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers at 7:00pm ET / 4:00pm PT on TNT

Beat LA! Mission about to be accomplished.

Pounding the Rock | Silver Screen and Roll

GAME 4: Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets at 9:30pm ET / 6:30pm PT on TNT

Chances are good the start of the best game of the day won't be shown on TV because Turner can't figure out how to use its dedicated NBA channel to handle situations where the early game runs late (as they always do). So, let me say in advance, GRRRRRRR!

Golden State of Mind| Denver Stiffs

And because this is SO GOOD and you were probably too lazy to click the link that I provided above...


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Talk about reading the tea leaves and wondering if they're just simply tea leaves...

Yesterday, some Suns bloggers received a LinkedIn request from longtime NBA executive Mark Warkentien to 'connect'. For those who don't know anything about LinkedIn, it's a business-oriented social networking site that hooks up like-minded business folks. The application find people like you and suggests virtual hookups, then it's up to you to initiate the connection.

Warkentien currently lists himself as Director of Player Personnel for the New York Knicks, with prior affiliations to the Rockets, Nuggets and Cavaliers.

Three-plus decades as a Team Builder in a myriad of major-college and NBA environments; three collegiate Final Fours at UNLV, 1000+ NBA wins while never experiencing a losing season as teams won Division Championships in Seattle, Portland, Denver and New York.

Absolute professional goal is to procure a NBA Championship ring to go along with NCAA Championship ring won at UNLV in 1990.

Warkentien was NBA Executive of the Year in 2009 when Denver went to the Western Conference Finals with Carmelo Anthony leading the way on the court.

A year later, he was out of a job along with Rex Chapman as Denver turned to Masai Ujiri to try to keep Carmelo happy in Denver when Anthony wanted a bigger market. Ujiri ended up trading Anthony, as you all know.

That summer of 2010, Warkentien was on Lon Babby's list of potentials for the GM position. Warkentien requested permission from the Nuggets to talk to three teams that summer, none of whom hired him. He eventually left Denver, made a short stopover in Houston, and landed in New York.

As he said above, he's been in the NBA for a long, long time and never experienced a losing season.

Interestingly, Warkentien makes several references on his LinkedIn profile to high attendance figures in seasons he was part of NBA front offices. With the Suns coming off their worst attendance in twenty years, this could be a selling point to Babby and Sarver.

The hiring of Warkentien certainly checks off a lot of items on Babby's list:

  • front office experience
  • proven talent evaluator
  • never demanded full control of all decisions (reading this, Chuck?)
  • puts together teams that excite NBA fans
  • never presided over a losing team
  • never demanded full control of all decisions

Reading the tea leaves indeed...

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