When the Phoenix Suns brought Lindsey Hunter on board as interim head coach, the perception was the team would work to bring along the likes of Michael Beasley, Kendall Marshall and Wesley Johnson.
Suns’ color analyst Tim Kempton told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Show Monday while the hope was to see how these players might fit into the organization’s long-term plans, they won’t just be handed extra playing time without proving their worth.
“No matter what happens there has to be some accountability and responsibility so you can’t just open up the doors and let the inmates run the asylum,” Kempton said. “If those guys aren’t doing what they’re being asked to do from the practice court to the game court, I am 100% behind Lindsey Hunter because it’s not a free for all.”
While the Suns said publicly they would like to give their young players more playing time, Kempton said the guys have a responsibility to show that they are deserving. And thus far, that hasn’t necessarily been the case.
In the Suns’ third consecutive loss on Sunday to the Spurs, Marshall scored just three points in 4:43 minutes on the court, while Beasley and Johnson didn’t score a single point in under four minutes of play.
Kempton said that even though the Suns have focused their attention on next season, they aren’t going to reward players with more minutes if they don’t show they are committed to abiding by the team’s philosophy.
“Just because Lindsey Hunter and the front office are saying ‘hey we’re going in a different direction,’ you still have to come out and be a professional and do what your coaching staff asks you, do what your teammates need you to do so they can trust you on the floor.
“I think with Kendall [Marshall] and Michael Beasley, is that they need to be held accountable. You just can’t go out there and do whatever you want to do. You have to go out there and do what the team is asking of you in that team structure.”
Beasley has ruffled some feathers with some of his comments to the media, including one in which he said he’s “giving it my all” when it doesn’t always appear that way on the court.
Kempton said the disconnect with Beasley and the Suns stems from the forward’s lack of maturity.
“It’s just goes back to the immaturity,” Kempton stated. “I think Michael Beasley is the poster child for AAU basketball. Here’s a guy that was extremely talented at the high school level and ran over people. Here’s a guy that was extremely talented at the college level and ran over people. Well he can’t do that anymore and that immaturity comes through night in and night out. Not having that leadership, that person around him that he trusts in to take leadership from to be a role model to Michael Beasley.”
The fact that Beasley, and Marshall and Johnson for that matter, haven’t stepped it up when given every opportunity to earn those extra minutes is worrisome to Kempton.
“From this point on your on stage, you are auditioning not only for the Phoenix Suns, but you are auditioning for the other teams out there in the NBA that follow you and have pro scouts out there every game looking to see if you’ll fit into their organization,” Kempton said. “It is a little bit disappointing, but in the same sense it’s kind of eye opening as to what direction the Phoenix Suns can take in the future from the guys that are here.”