Suns GM: Brandon Knight’s injury ‘could’ve happened to anybody’

Jul 26, 2017, 2:11 PM | Updated: 3:18 pm
Phoenix Suns' Brandon Knight, center, passes between Golden State Warriors' Shaun Livingston, left,...

Phoenix Suns' Brandon Knight, center, passes between Golden State Warriors' Shaun Livingston, left, and David West (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

PHOENIX — Brandon Knight’s torn ACL suffered last Wednesday in a Florida pro-am game likely ends his 2017-18 season before it begins.

In the immediate future, the focus is on getting the swelling in Knight’s knee down before he undergoes surgery, said Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough, who addressed the guard’s injury on Wednesday.

“My understanding of it: he jumped and landed a bit off,” McDonough said, adding Knight’s knee “inverted.”

“It’s unfortunate. He did it playing ball — it could’ve happened to anybody.”

Surgery is likely later this week or earlier next week, and McDonough said the team and Knight had yet to discuss whether he will spend his rehab process in Arizona, Florida or between both places.

In 2016-17, Knight didn’t appear in a game for the Suns after playing 21 minutes against the Lakers on Feb. 15, the team’s final game before the trade deadline. He was asked to play on March 17 when the Suns shut down starting point guard Eric Bledsoe but said he had a sore back that was caused by his heavy workout regiment that was already in offseason mode.

He finished the year averaging 11 points and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the floor. All were career worsts.

After the season, Knight said he could only control what he can control moving forward from a year in which he was demoted and replaced in the lineup by Devin Booker, benched completely for a stretch and reportedly floated in trade talks.

“He was working really hard this offseason and that’s one of the tough parts about it,” McDonough said. “He’d been going pretty hard since March, I think that was. For about four months, he was in a groove, in a good rhythm, his body felt good.”

Having spent most of this offseason in South Florida, where he is from, Knight’s injury will likely not give the Suns any more money to spend on players. McDonough said the team can choose to operate as an under-the-cap or over-the-cap team and will likely opt for the former, which will make the team non-eligible for the Disabled Player Exception it could receive if it chose the latter.

The team can claim insurance re-imbursement if Knight doesn’t play for half the season, McDonough added.

Knight’s injury pushes a resolution to his uncertain future with the Suns into next summer.

The more immediate question is whether Phoenix will find it necessary to make a reactionary move to fill Knight’s role. McDonough is still awaiting word on where center Alex Len’s free agency goes, but the Suns’ roster is nearly full.

They have three bodies at point guard with Bledsoe, Tyler Ulis and Mike James on the roster. At shooting guard where Knight may have earned the most minutes were he healthy, Booker could be backed up by rookie and second-round pick Davon Reed, while wings Derrick Jones Jr. and Josh Jackson could slide over from small forward.

“I feel like we have pretty good guard depth,” McDonough said. “We certainly don’t feel any pressure to rush out and sign another guard — have gotten calls from about 500 agents since the (Knight injury) news broke yesterday.

“We’re getting close to the roster limit and if we do have a need positionally, it’s probably in the frontcourt opposed to the backcourt.”

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