Just about 11 months ago, injury caused Suns guard Brandon Knight’s 2015-16 season to wrap early with seven games remaining.
Devin Booker’s surging profile sparked the conversation that could eventually become the reality: Knight would be reassigned to a bench role, allowing Booker to continue his upward trajectory. But to follow the 2017 trade deadline, Knight isn’t just a struggling backup guard.
He’s been cut from the rotation entirely.
On Monday, Phoenix point guard Eric Bledsoe joined Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Jon Bloom and Eddie House on the Suns midseason special and said Knight is remaining “positive” despite the demotion.
“It’s just, it’s frustrating for him,” Bledsoe said. “He’s still young at the end of the day. He’s 24 years old. Anybody who’s been starting their entire career at the age 24, it’s kind of frustrating coming off the bench. I stay in his ear the whole time … you got to fight through it. Everybody at some point has got to buy into a new role at some point in the career.
“What you don’t want to do is have a bad energy in the locker room, you know, on the court and it shows to the rest of the league.”
Knight isn’t alone in losing a rotation spot. Starting center Tyson Chandler has also been a healthy scratch in two road games at Chicago and Milwaukee.
Suns backup center Alan Williams has been the beneficiary of the extra minutes and has backed up new starter Alex Len. He scored 17 points along with 15 boards, three assists, a block and three steals Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“Tyson’s been great throughout the whole season,” Williams told Bloom and House. “He’s taken me under the wing. He’s been gracious enough and humble enough to pass (lessons) to myself and Marquese (Chriss) and Alex (Len). Getting a chance to learn from him directly now is really a special opportunity.
THREE FLAVORS OF SAUCE
Quotable moments from Alan Williams’ appearance on the Suns midseason special:
1. How did his nickname of ‘Big Sauce’ come about? “I was in college, me and a couple of my friends, my boys, went down on a road trip. My younger brother Cody was on the road trip with us and he was just giving out nicknames to everybody. He just said I dress real saucy and I was just a saucy guy so he called me ‘Big Sauce.’ I was a lot bigger at the time, I think I was around like 300 pounds at the time. The name Big Sauce came out and we were just jokingly kept calling each other this nicknames from the trip. Mine was really the only one that stuck. We played UNLV my junior year and the people in the paper wrote about it after I played well. It just kind of ran from there.”
2. Where did the bench celebrations and energy come from? “I don’t know how to explain it. It just naturally happened. I don’t think I got it from everywhere. Especially, when I start off on a new team, a new place, I got to work for my minutes and I got to work for what I want to achieve. That starts on the bench, and that starts in practice, and that starts with showing great support for your teammates.The biggest thing it is for me is how much I love the game. I got to sit on that bench or whatever you call it and watch the greatest athletes in the world play basketball. I have no choice but to really celebrate that and show great love and passion and intensity. It’s a genuine sense of emotion I can’t really explain in words.”
3. What are his goals?: “Every time I step onto the court, I try to get a double-double. It’s definitely helpful. It helps to contribute to winning a basketball game. As a team, our goal is to go out there and show what the future of this organization is.”
Bledsoe on the Suns trading veteran P.J. Tucker: “Everybody was devastated, man. We built a great bond — beyond basketball — the last three, four years,” Bledsoe said. “We were also happy for him. He spent six years here and he hasn’t been to the playoffs and he’s going to a team that probably could contend for a championship. He deserves to be mentioned in one of the defensive categories.”
- ESPN says the Phoenix Suns will finish last in the Western Conference
- How realistic is NBA 2K18? Its trailer features a grumpy Marquese Chriss
- ESPN’s first 2018 NBA mock draft has the Suns taking Luka Doncic
- Marvin Bagley commits to Duke, could add to 2018 NBA Draft crop
- The 5: Intriguing items on the Suns’ 2017-18 schedule