With their season limping toward a likely playoff-less finish, attention with regards to the Phoenix Suns will soon shift to the offseason.
And, primarily, what will happen with restricted free agent Brandon Knight.
Acquired in a trade deadline deal with the Milwaukee Bucks that saw the team part with Miles Plumlee, Tyler Ennis and a first-round pick owed to the Suns by the Los Angeles Lakers, it was hoped that Knight would come in and be a perfect running mate to fellow point guard Eric Bledsoe.
Unfortunately, that has not really been the case.
Knight has shown flashes of ability, yes, but was unable to play at a consistently high level before spraining his ankle in a loss to the Golden State Warriors on March 9. He missed the following eight games as the team’s postseason dreams began to slip away, returning in Sunday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but was forced to exit after aggravating the injury in the third quarter.
When asked about the 23-year-old’s future with the team, Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said he’s seen enough to be very happy with the idea of Knight as a big part of the team going forward.
“He’s got a good feel for the game,” the coach told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday.
Hornacek talked about how Knight can play off the ball, operating as a catch-and-shoot guard, or can burn a defense who goes under the screen on a pick-and-roll.
In 11 games with the Suns, nine of which he started, Knight has averaged 13.4 points, 4.5 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 2.1 turnovers per game. He has shot .357 from the field and .313 from 3-point range.
Prior to the trade, he was averaging 17.8 points while shooting .435 from the field and .409 from 3-point range for the Bucks.
“Now, he hasn’t shot it as well as when he was in Milwaukee, was shooting over 40 percent, but that’s part of getting adjusted to a new team and the comfort level, and then he got hurt,” Hornacek said. “So he’s going to be able to provide us that. You saw glimpses of it [Sunday] night, how he can split pick-and-rolls and hit guys in a good position as a passer. And the shot will be there.
“So we think he’s going to be great and he’s a competitor. I think the biggest thing with him is he’s one of these guys that are professional about playing basketball. It’s about doing your job, playing as hard as you can, and he won’t tolerate guys who are just out there playing the game just to play it, play for money or whatever else. He wants to win, so that’s why I think he’ll be good.”