Gerald Green had played in all of the 129 games he was available since joining the Phoenix Suns last season, and has been an important part of the bench unit this year, averaging 13.4 points in 21.4 minutes per contest.
But that streak came to an unexpected end on Friday, when Green received a DNP-CD in the Suns’ 99-93 win over the Bulls.
Given the sudden nature of Green’s benching, it was worth wondering if something was up; was a trade in the works involving Green, or was there an internal disciplinary reason for him remaining sidelined? According to head coach Jeff Hornacek, it was simply a coach’s decision based on the matchup.
From Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic:
By coach’s decision, Suns swingman Gerald Green did not play for the first time in his two seasons with Phoenix. Hornacek said it was not predetermined that Green would not play but it worked out that way with Dragic and Bledsoe thriving and P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris taking their turns on defending Butler.
“We have a lot of guys that can play,” Hornacek said. “I thought Goran and Eric going up against Rose and Butler and these guys was just a better match and they were playing 40 minutes. There are only so many minutes out there. We just went with the shorter rotation. Maybe tomorrow, it’s his night.”
Green, often visibly upset upon being pulled from games, remained encouraging and relaxed throughout the game and took a spot on the end of the bench. The Suns said there is no discipline or trade reason for the benching. Green could be in store for a large role tonight at Golden State.
Hornacek’s answer is believable, in that he chose to go with size in the form of Brandan Wright, Marcus Morris and Miles Plumlee (along with Isaiah Thomas) for the bulk of the bench minutes.
It’s difficult to argue with the results, and reporters in the locker room said that Green was positive and professional about it afterward. It may or may not be something to watch moving forward, but as long as the wins keep coming (this was the sixth in the Suns’ last eight games), Hornacek and his decisions, however odd they may seem at the time, will continue to be trusted.