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Brandon Knight not playing for rest of season, refused to play for Suns against Kings

Phoenix Suns' Brandon Knight,left, works around Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Suns guard Brandon Knight has not played since the last game before the All-Star break on Feb. 15. Presumably, that was because of coach/organization decisions.

According to Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s John Gambadoro, on Tuesday starter Eric Bledsoe was told he would be shut down for the rest of the season. Because of that, Knight was told the team would need him to play.

Knight, having not seen court time in a calendar month, told the training staff his back was bothering him, and shortly before tip-off against the Kings Wednesday he was put on the injury report with back spasms.

Head coach Earl Watson made the shutdown of both Knight and Tyson Chandler official on Friday.

A starter for most of his career, Knight began this season in a reserve role but struggled coming off the bench. He is averaging 11 points, 2.4 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game in a career-low 21 minutes per game. Formerly of the Pistons and Bucks before being traded to Phoenix, Knight in the five seasons prior to 2016-17 had never averaged below 31 minutes per game.

He is shooting 40 percent overall and 32 percent from three-point range this season.

Knight played 30 or more minutes in three of his first five games to begin 2016-17 but since hasn’t surpassed 30 minutes in the last 50 games. His playing time dropped off from 29 minutes averaged in four October games to 24 minutes in November, 21 in December, and then 18 in January and February before the All-Star break. In January, head coach Earl Watson pointed to Knight’s defense as the reason he lost playing time to Ulis.

The backup guard is second to Bledsoe on the Suns’ payroll, making $12.6 million this year.

The Suns did not find a trade partner interested in Knight at the deadline, and his salary growing to $13.6 next season, $14.6 million in 2018-19 and $15.6 million in 2019-20 is the biggest factor to his hurting value.

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