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Phoenix Suns

Suns GM McDonough: Tucker trade opens up more minutes for younger players

From left to right, Phoenix Suns second-round draft pick Tyler Ulis and first-round draft picks Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss are introduced to the media as head coach Earl Watson smiles, Friday, June 24, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

There were several reasons for the Phoenix Suns to trade P.J. Tucker to the Toronto Raptors.

Looking beyond Tucker’s value being higher on a contender and the veteran being on an expiring contract, his spot opening up in the rotation gives head coach Earl Watson more breathing room when it comes to playing the younger players.

The team’s general manager Ryan McDonough believes the youngsters looking for more playing time will get it.

“I think over the rest of the season, you’ll see Marquese Chriss play a little bit more, Dragan Bender when he gets healthy hopefully will play some more, T.J. Warren has played a lot, I think he might even play more, and then you might even see a guy like Derrick Jones Jr. fill some minutes as well,” he said on Burns & Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

As far as a “youth movement,” McDonough confirmed something of that sort is coming for the last 25 games of the season.

“Obviously, we’ve discussed it with coach Watson and his staff,” McDonough said.

The GM went on to say the players are absolutely aware of the plan and some of the thought behind a Tucker trade was to give the aforementioned players more time.

In order for that to happen, some of the veterans will have to play less, even with Tucker heading out.

A player specifically mentioned by McDonough as being accepting of the role was Tyson Chandler, who plays the most minutes among all Suns’ big men. Three of the four players behind Chandler — Alex Len, Bender and Chriss — are playing on a rookie contract.

McDonough said a specific conversation with Chandler did take place regarding a potential dip in playing time.

“It’s been discussed,” McDonough said.  “We want to have that discussion prior to the deadline, just in case he was not. We would understand if he wasn’t and might have caused us to make another move yesterday.”

Chandler was reportedly pursued by the Portland Trail Blazers, but his veteran presence is clearly valued by the organization.

“He loves the coach, he loves the young guys and looks forward to being a big part of what we’re building here.”

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