Coming off a disappointing six-game road trip in which his team finished 1-5, Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry was rather certain before Thursday night’s game that yet another change would be made to the starting lineup in the coming days.
While Gentry wouldn’t divulge who would be the odd man out among the Suns starters, the obvious assumption was small forward Michael Beasley.
If Thursday’s game against Dallas was Beasley’s final chance to change his coach’s mind about a demotion to the pine, well, he was rather unconvincing.
After connecting with Marcin Gortat for a beautiful alley-oop dunk on the team’s first possession of the night, things quickly went south for Beasley.
As has been the case for much of the season, the former Kansas State star grew content firing up jump shot after jump shot Thursday, and the result was underwhelming. Beasley hit two of his first three shots but finished the night with just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting.
Gentry pulled the plug on Beasley’s night at the 7:24 mark of the third quarter, and even after P.J. Tucker went down with an MCL sprain, he elected to play a three-guard lineup of Goran Dragic, Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown down the stretch of the Suns’ 97-94 loss.
Following the team’s fifth straight loss, Gentry was a little bit more forthcoming about a potential lineup change, suggesting that Beasley “more than likely” would be headed to the bench as early as Saturday’s game at the Los Angeles Clippers.
Friday he expanded on his post-game comments at the team’s morning practice.
“I’m contemplating a lot of situations, but [moving Beasley] is one of them,” Gentry said. “Maybe him coming in with the second unit and having a little bit more freedom might help too. We’ve got to find some kind of way where it’s right and more consistent.”
Consistency has been a big issue for Beasley, who signed a three-year contract worth $18 million dollars back in July.
Thought to be one the team’s main offensive options going into the season, Beasley has scored 20 points or more in just three games and is shooting 37.4 percent from the field.
To make matters worse, Beasley isn’t exactly stopping people at the defensive end, either. The former No. 2 overall pick has a cumulative plus/minus of -136 through 20 games.
While Beasley has become an easy scapegoat for the team’s early-season woes, Gentry made sure to emphasize Friday that he’s not the only one struggling of late.
“Everyone needs to step up themselves,” said Gentry. “I don’t think it’s any one guy. If you’ve got the ball, then you should shoot it. If you aren’t, you should pass it. It’s pretty simple.”