The Suns will have a new public address announcer when they open the preseason Tuesday against New Jersey.
Former McClintock High School football coach and ex-Mountain Pointe High athletic director Dick Baniszewski will replace Jeff Munn, who served in that role for 12 years.
Munn said he and the Suns started talking about the move about six weeks ago with the idea of giving Munn more time at home with his wife, Laurie, and two children, Patrick, 7, and Hayley, 4.
“It would have been very easy for them to say, ‘You signed up for this deal so live with it,' but they were very accommodating," Munn said. “(Suns chairman) Jerry (Colangelo) has always been a guy who has stressed family as a priority in his own life and his employees'."
Munn will still serve as a staff assistant for the Suns’ public relations department and his role as a Diamondbacks announcer will not change.
“This will finally give me an offseason," he said.
Munn has been broadcasting basketball for 28 years in one form or another, but as a professional announcer, Munn never seemed comfortable with the job's shift in philosophy. Over the past few years many teams around the league have asked their P.A. man to be part announcer, part cheerleader in an attempt to connect with fans.
Baniszewski originally auditioned for the position of in-arena host, which the Suns will add this year. He also announced a Mercury game Aug. 22 against San Antonio. When the P.A. position opened the Suns liked him so much they decided to hand him the reins.
“It's kind of a leap of faith because he has no experience at the professional basketball level," Suns vice president of public relations Rob Harris said.
Baniszewski could not be reached for comment.
Penny Hardaway was asked Thursday if he was surprised by coach Frank Johnson's recent statement that the starting two-guard position is open between him and Joe Johnson.
“You have to be. I don't understand," he said. “But it's his team and president Bryan (Colangelo's) team. I just want to win a championship. I'm not going to ruffle feathers."
Still, Hardaway feels he earned the starting job with his solid, steadying play last season.
“When I'm healthy I play good basketball," he said.
Hardaway is healthy heading into training camp.
“Try to imagine if every year your boss says your job is open. There's no security in that," he said.
Bryan Colangelo doesn't have a problem with the players’ union granting veterans of more than three seasons an extra three days of rest. It's just the timing that bothers him.
With Suns veterans reporting to camp Thursday and beginning practice today, the team will have just four days of practice with its full squad before playing its first preseason game Tuesday. Colangelo said he is concerned that players who are not in shape could injure themselves. He also acknowledged that the Suns will have to limit those players' minutes in the preseason.
Colangelo would prefer that the league give players a day off after the New Year and a day on either side of the All-Star break.
“Those are traditionally the times when guys are looking for some extra time anyway," he said. “This is probably a proposal that should be discussed at some point."
Bryan Colangelo said he hoped that management soon would begin discussions on a contract extension for coach Frank Johnson and his assistants, all of whom have two years remaining. But Colangelo quickly added that it would be premature to begin negotiations now. . . . Newly acquired forward Robert Archibald is in hot water with his fiancee, Molly Eckols. When the former University of Illinois star was picked by Memphis in the 2002 draft, Eckols left law school at Illinois and enrolled at the University of Memphis to be near Archibald. Now she is debating whether to transfer again to a school in Arizona or finish her academic career in Memphis.