Brandon Knight joins Eric Bledsoe to form ‘dynamic backcourt’ for Phoenix Suns
PHOENIX — Though his time in the Valley is equal to that of the number of games he’s played in a Phoenix Suns uniform, point guard Brandon Knight is anxious to settle in, not just with his new team and teammates, but the city as well.
“I don’t know a whole lot, but I’ve heard nothing but good things,” he said.
Much of what Knight has heard came from his then-Milwaukee teammate and former Suns fan favorite Jared Dudley.
“He had nothing but high praise for Phoenix, the city and the organization,” Knight said.
Now on his third team in four NBA seasons, Knight, acquired as part of a three-team deal moments before the NBA trade deadline last week, hopes his nomadic days are over even though he becomes a restricted free agent at season’s end.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said Monday.
Of course the Suns would not have made the move — sending guard Tyler Ennis and center Miles Plumlee to the Bucks and the Lakers’ protected 2015 first-round pick to the 76ers — if they did not envision Knight as a significant piece to the puzzle going forward.
“We have every hope it will be a long-term relationship,” president of basketball operations Lon Babby said at Friday’s press conference, officially announcing the deal, one of three the team had made the day before.
Knight, to his credit, is not focused on his future beyond this season. His main concern is helping his new team get back on track.
Losers of four straight and seven of eight, the Suns (29-27) have fallen two games back of Oklahoma City for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Knight, 23, will play his second game in a Suns uniform and will get the start in his home debut against a Boston (20-33) team coming off a 118-111 overtime loss Sunday night against the Lakers in L.A.
Only hours after joining his new team, Knight scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting with five assists and three turnovers in 25 minutes coming off the bench at Chicago.
“He’s a smart kid,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We came in [Sunday] and ran over the stuff. I was encouraged by the fact that he sat there and directed some of the other guys when they had messed up a little bit. He goes, ‘no, go over there. It’s this and that.’ It’s great to see a guy who is playing the combo guard, ‘1′, ‘2′, whatever it is, be able to guide guys and help each other out on the court.”
With Milwaukee, Knight was enjoying his best season as a pro, averaging career-highs in points (17.8), assists (5.4), rebounds (4.3) and steals (1.6), while shooting career-highs of 43.5 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from 3-point range.
He was the leader on a team that had doubled its win total from the previous season entering the All-Star break.
Now, Knight must share the spotlight and, more importantly, the playmaking duties with Eric Bledsoe, the one point guard the Suns did not trade last week.
“We’ll make a dynamic backcourt,” said Knight, while acknowledging the adjustment. “I know it’s tough in the West, but I think with two guards that can defend and create and get in the paint, I think it’s a positive.”
The hope — and why the front office reshaped the roster by one-third minutes ahead of the trade deadline — is the Suns can re-capture the chemistry from a season ago, which had been missing this season.
“He’s a hell of a player,” said Bledsoe, who like Knight played his college ball at Kentucky. “He was having an all-star year. I was surprised that he got traded, but at the end of the day, it’s a plus for us. He’s a great point guard. Because of him, Milwaukee was in the position they were in, so he’s going to come help us perfect.”