Suns coach Earl Watson benching Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler ‘unless management changes it’

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
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Neither Brandon Knight nor Tyson Chandler appear to fit with the Suns, but by the trade deadline, both players were afterthoughts. Knight (three years and $43,893,750) and Chandler (two years and $26,585,000) just have too much money remaining on their contracts to be desirable targets.

It appears they’re also undesirable on the court for Phoenix.

Knight and Chandler have received DNP-CDs in every game since the trade deadline. Tyler Ulis and Derrick Jones Jr. have moved into the rotation and other young players have gotten enhanced roles.

Suns coach Earl Watson, via Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic:

“I’m not changing it unless management changes it,” Watson said. “I have a boss and my boss has a boss, so whatever comes from up top is what’s going to happen. And right now, that’s not even part of our equation.”

“It’s a great thing for younger players; it’s a dangerous thing for coaches,” he said. “This is not college. Coaches don’t have seven-to-10 year contracts. … But for us, coming into this situation, we owe it to these players for them to be great for their career. And as a former player, I’ve had my chance, so I have to give these young guys their opportunity. I have to give them whatever it takes, even if at some times there’s risk for us moving forward as a staff. We owe it to these players. I always believe that if you do the right thing, then somehow opportunity opens up, whether it’s continue to coach somewhere else, but you owe it to these younger players every day to develop and build confidence.”

Is Watson implying management ordered him to stop playing Knight and Chandler? It now sure seems Phoenix played those two only to showcase them for a trade then benched them once the deadline passed.

This general direction is healthy for the franchise. The Suns can’t win anything of significance this season, so player development and tanking — synergetic goals — should take priority.

I’m not so sure about the execution, though. Knight is 25, and point guards tend to develop late. Even if he’s not destined to play point guard in the NBA, he’s relatively inexperienced as an off guard. I wouldn’t close the door on his development — especially when Leandro Barbosa is still getting minutes.

And what does this mean for Watson? Benching veterans for raw youngsters will hurt his record, but it also allows him to argue he wasn’t trying to win and therefore shouldn’t be judged on his (lousy) record — especially helpful, because Watson’s teams have mostly lost even when trying to win. I’m not convinced this is as bad for him as he insinuates.