PHOENIX — Who the Phoenix Suns decide to hire as head coach will be the number one question facing the franchise this offseason.
Number two just may be roster construction, specifically the guard position and the starting backcourt.
How the Suns handle Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight with the emergence of Devin Booker and both Archie Goodwin and John Jenkins looking for minutes will be an offseason storyline for Suns fans to monitor.
Bledsoe and Knight started 30 games together, sharing point guard duties, until Bledsoe injured his left knee and underwent season-ending surgery in December.
That elevated Booker off the bench and into the starting lineup, where he remained the rest of the season and excelled, averaging 17.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 51 games.
Bledsoe is anxious to resume playing.
“I mean, I can’t wait. The sense of urgency is through the roof,” he said Thursday, when the Suns held exit interviews.
His return, however, creates an interesting dilemma for the new head coach: who starts and who comes off the bench?
Because of how well Booker performed, the Suns may look at a Bledsoe-Booker backcourt pairing, taking advantage of the latter’s shooting guard skills.
That, of course, would mean Knight comes off the bench, something he has done in only 13 of his 328 career games.
“My role is going to be the same. I don’t see my role changing,” he said. “We’ll see what happens next year as far as roles, but I see my role being exactly the same.”
In other words, Knight, 24, is a starter.
“I see my role being the same,” he said.
Asked specifically if a reserve role wasn’t an option, Knight reiterated that he sees nothing changing.
“Like I said, I see my role being the same,” he said. “Whatever I did this year, I plan on being better next year.”
This season Knight averaged a career-high 19.6 points. Five times he hit the 30-point mark, including twice in a week when he dropped 37 on the Clippers and 38 at Denver in November.
For the second straight season, however, Knight finished the year on the sidelines, finally opting for surgery to repair a sports hernia that had cost him nine weeks of playing time.
“I’m no doctor, but they saw enough fluid on both sides where there wasn’t supposed to be fluid and the only way to get that fluid out of there is go in there and basically, I guess, patch it up and make sure it doesn’t return,” he said, referring to his April 7 procedure. “I’m not sure the exact terminology. I think there was a tear or somewhat of a tear that allowed the fluid to seep in and cause the discomfort. Once I saw what I needed to see, let’s go in and get it corrected.”
Since being acquired from Milwaukee, Knight has played in 63 of a possible 110 games for the Suns, who parted with a first-round pick to land the former Kentucky Wildcat as part of a three-team deal in 2015.
“For me, I just want to be 100 percent next year and put those things behind me. It’s going to come with a lot of hard work, especially the beginning of the summer,” Knight said. “I’m definitely motivated. With missing the playoffs the past two years and knowing I could’ve been there for myself and for my teammates, definitely motivated to try to find a way that we can all get to our goal and that’s playing in the postseason.”
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