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Ideally, the Phoenix Suns would have their new General Manager - or whatever the person will be called - in place before mid-May when all the draft prospects attend the annual combine to interview, measure and work out for the teams interested in drafting them.

Makes sense to me.

Babby hopes to name a new GM by that time. So far, he has not faced any roadblocks in his recruitment process to raid another front office of their talent evaluator, regardless of the teams' playoff situation. If a team is going to make someone on their staff available for interviews, they don't make them wait out the playoffs. Without confirming names, Babby has all of his candidates lined up and ready to go.

According to Rick Bucher's posting on social media, the front runner for the Suns' GM position is Milwaukee Assistant GM Jeff Weltman.

Weltman was a finalist for the position in 2010 but, according to Bucher, Suns managing partner Robert Sarver pushed to add a disciple from the Spurs tree. The Suns tried to interview Spurs staffer Dennis Lindsey and failed to convince Dell Demps to join them, eventually settling on Lance Blanks.

This time around, it appears the Suns are looking in more directions. Jeff Weltman reportedly received permission last week to interview with the Phoenix Suns and fits the profile Babby wants.

Per Frank Madden with Brewhoop.com, Weltman is the brightest light of an otherwise struggling front office:

The Bucks' front office has deservedly taken plenty of heat for the Bucks' lack of results over the past five years, but Weltman might be the person they can least afford to lose. In my interactions with him I've found him to be approachable and open-minded, and he's generally considered to be a very analytical guy with a strong knowledge of the CBA.

Longtime NBA scout and front office executive, Amin Elhassan, endorsed Jeff Weltman as a full-time GM. Amin, currently writing for ESPN, was most recently an Assistant Director of Basketball Operations for the Phoenix Suns until a year ago. He knows how the Suns front office worked, and has ideas on how it could improve going forward.

"Jeff Weltman is a respected talent evaluator in this league, a really smart guy," Amin said. "He should already have been a full GM somewhere."

Fox Sports Arizona writer Randy Hill, who has covered the NBA for decades, had this to say about Weltman in a column last weeken.

According to league insiders, the 48-year-old Weltman has had considerable talent-evaluation input dating back to his work as director of player personnel for the Los Angeles Clippers. Weltman, the son of former ABA and NBA personnel executive Harry Weltman, got his first job as the Clippers' video coordinator.

Hill's article goes on to cite Weltman's work with the Clips, Nuggets and Bucks as an assistant GM.

Weltman's overall influence in all these maneuvers is open to outside speculation, but among his peers, he's considered a very good evaluator of talent. Whether the Suns make the same assessment remains to be seen.

The local fans like Weltman. Well-connected NBA guys like Weltman too. What else do we need to know?

Let's find out a little more about Weltman's ability to communicate. Weltman spoke with BrewHoop's Alex Boeder a couple of years ago during the lockout on the role of analytics in the scouting world.

"Is it the end-all, be-all? No, nothing is," Weltman said in 2011. "At the end of the day -- and I hate to always use that term but it seems like when you when you are talking about this stuff that it reverts back to that -- it's really you are scouting players, and every decision, no matter how much empirical data you apply, is going to come to some sort of gut level.

"Because if you ask the medical guys, they are going to give you a gut level. If you ask the analytics guys, they are going to give you a gut level. There is nothing that can distill it enough to say, empirically, here is the right answer.? So, long way of answering your question, but in a nutshell, we view the analytics as an important part of the process, one of many layers that we try to incorporate. From sight tests, to stats, to medicals, to background work and probably most importantly, to our own scouting evaluations."

Lon Babby called this "the summer of analytics", so it appears that Jeff Weltman would be a good muse for that line of thinking.

Weltman mentions that there is always resistance to change, then widespread adoption, then pullback when it gets too heavy. That's happened with analytics, and soon to be with technology. And this was before SportVu came into being (the Suns were one of 15 teams recording everything on the court from a half-dozen different angles last year).

Will the new coach be analytics guy too? Weltman certainly was open to that idea a couple of years ago when interviewed by BrewHoop.

"When you think about that a lot of the advanced scouts will now incorporate some analytics data in their reports," Weltman continued. "That kind of lives in those reports a little bit. So they may use some information that was given to them by the analytics guy in the actual game report that is put on the chairs of players in the locker room before the game, and put in the coach's report before the game. So you may have an advanced guy behind the bench kind of whispering in the coach's ear some stuff that was passed through the analytics department to him.

"As to whether there will be a specific analytics guy on the bench, I don't know. But I would imagine that if some position like that were to evolve it would be somehow married to the technological breakthroughs, where you can keep those things on a more real-time basis.

"I don't think generally right now teams are looking to expand staffs and that sort of stuff, so I'm not really sure how that will all fit in. That is conjecture. As I said earlier, the cycle with analytics has gotten to the point where I think teams are looking at it as a convention, not as some new-fangled thing that has yet to be tested. And so they are not afraid to incorporate it in the way they do business as a coaching staff. And some teams are going to embrace it more than others, of course."

Over the past few years, the Bucks have had their ups and downs. They made the playoffs this year in a win-now mode, but were far from impressive and have missed the playoffs in 5 of their last 7 years. They purposely paired Brandon Jennings with Monta Ellis (for Andrew Bogut) and traded the promising Tobias Harris for two months of J.J. Redick. They signed Drew Gooden to a big contract. They drafted Joe Alexander at #8.

But Weltman isn't the trigger man in Milwaukee. John Hammond has been that guy. On the good side, the two of them drafted Larry Sanders, a defensive beast, high-potential PF John Henson, SF Luc Richard M'ba a Moute and SG Jodie Meeks recently as well (the latter two in the second round).

Weltman currently works for a win-now team that really ought to just get younger and rebuild. They have been on the edge of the playoffs the last four years (making it once), drafting 10th-15th every year since 2009. This June, they will draft 15th. Again.

He's interviewing with a team that's been on the edge of the playoffs for the last five years (making it once), drafting 13th-15th every year since 2008.

Does Weltman prefer a Suns team that's actually decided to hit the rebuild hard with lots of high picks coming, but has little young talent on the roster?

Or does he prefer a Bucks team still straddling the playoff fence and about to lose their starting PG to free agency, but at least sports young talent in Henson and Sanders?

Stay tuned.

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 to...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Various reports around the NBA indicate that Jeff Weltman is separating himself in the search for the Suns’ next general manager. Soon after Lance Blanks was relieved of his duties, Paul Coro...

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Wow. There's a LOT to chew over in this report from Ric Bucher. Not only does Bucher report that Milwaukee Bucks assistant GM Jeff Weltman is the front-runner for the Phoenix Suns GM job, but he buried the lede on the Robert Sarver front.

Bucher's source also puts the blame for Blanks on Sarver's shoulder (something I'd never heard before and take with a grain of salt) and goes on to suggest that Banker Bob might just be ready to cash out on his investment in the Phoenix Suns franchise.

Here's the report:

Ric Bucher's post on San Antonio Spurs | Latest updates on Sulia
Jeff Weltman, as has been reported, is the frontrunner to be the Phoenix Suns' next GM, and one source said he was team president Lon Babby's preference when he first joined the Suns but that owner Robert Sarver was eager to tap the San Antonio Spurs' braintrust and therefore preferred the now-deposed Lance Blanks. The bigger question is, how much longer will Sarver be calling the shots? One source says the increased evaluation of franchises inspired by the Seattle-Sacramento fight over the Kings has Sarver wondering if it's time to cash out.

Wow.

We've heard whispers over the years that Robert wasn't in it for the long haul and would be open to selling but that's still very thin gruel.

So first, let's tackle the Sarver selling thing which I think is the bigger story.

Sarver was the lead guy in a group that purchased the Suns from Jerry Colangelo in 2004 for a reported $400m (give or take a couple of million dollar hamburgers). The Kings valuation in the Maloof sale is at least $525m and could end up closer to $550m when the dust settles.

Wow.

That's a pretty hefty increase and something that has to make Sarver take notice. He's on the NBA's Finance Committee and has seen all the details of the Kings transaction. If the Kings are worth that much, how much would the Suns be worth?

Cha-ching!

It's VERY important to note that this is one rumor from one source. We've heard whispers over the years that Robert wasn't in it for the long haul and would be open to selling but that's still very thin gruel.

I also am of the opinion that Sarver has taken far more grief (mostly from the national media) than deserved.

He's OBVIOUSLY made mistakes when it comes to both business and player decisions but he's no slum lord (I see you Donald Sterling) and it baffles me that super-rich, large market Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't get raked over the coals for being "cheap" while Sarver (whose team did pay the luxury tax for several years while in contention) does.

So, let me just say this about the potential of Sarver selling --- sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. How would you feel about Chris Hansen and his Seattle crew setting their eyes on your Suns should they strike out on moving the Kings to the Emerald City?

Anyway, it's something to file away and chew over for the time being until we get more info one way or another. And one would think this report might prompt some kind of response from Bob. Then again, Sarver's words and actions haven't always been in alignment (how's that for tact!).

As for Jeff Weltman, here's what we know about him:

Weltman is the assistant GM in Milwaukee and has reportedly been given permission to interview with the Suns. He's been with the Bucks for five years (since April 2008) and recently signed an extension in his current job. He has a long NBA resume which you can read here.

But never forget -- Joe Alexander.

Perhaps most intriguing about Weltman is his propensity for analytics which, you will kindly recall, is a focus for Babby during this "Summer of Analytics".

SB Nation's Brew Hoop talked to Weltman during the lockout in August 2011 in an interview that mostly addressed analytics. Here's Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview. Weltman certainly talks the talk.

Frank Madden from Brew Hoop said this about Weltman and the possibility of him coming to Phoenix:

The Bucks' front office has deservedly taken plenty of heat for the Bucks' lack of results over the past five years, but Weltman might be the person they can least afford to lose. In my interactions with him I've found him to be approachable and open-minded, and he's generally considered to be a very analytical guy with a strong knowledge of the CBA.

On the flip side, Weltman has been with the Bucks for five years and that franchise hasn't exactly blown the doors of the NBA. At some point in the future, certainly if Weltman is hired by the Suns, we'll explore his team's draft record in more detail. But never forget -- Joe Alexander.

Are we having fun yet?

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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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