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Earl Watson says he will ‘have to be creative’ if players prioritize playing time over winning

Newly appointed Phoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson speaks after being promoted from interim head coach, Tuesday, April 19, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

LISTEN: Earl Watson, Suns' Head Coach

The first full season for Earl Watson as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns is going to present plenty of challenges.

His main challenge will be improving the Suns’ 23 wins in the 2014-15 season, and with that challenge comes rotation decisions Watson will be forced to make.

19-year-old Devin Booker has proven quickly to be ready for serious NBA minutes after his rookie season and has many questioning which of Booker, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight will be in the starting lineup.

During exit interviews at the end of the season, Knight was emphatic that he does not see his role changing, saying that he “sees his role being the same.”

Watson will look to continue to change the thought processes of the team like he did when he first joined the team as interim head coach.

“The guys immediately bought in throughout our first meeting,” Watson said on Burns & Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

“The main thing was the mental aspect of the game. They were so used to losing as a group that they became defeated throughout the process of games and we had to change that. That took a lot of creative reaching out and connecting with the players.”

The changes Watson made in his first days as head coach come along with other philosophies he will look to present in his permanent role, and that relates to the choices for the starting lineup.

“When you buy into winning, you don’t care who gets the credit, because the credit is given by wins and winning throughout the playoffs,” Watson said on Burns & Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM when discussing how to sell Knight coming off the bench if he had to.

If the situation arises of a player caring more about playing time over winning, Watson said he will “have to be creative.”

“I don’t think there’s any challenges that we can’t overcome as a staff,” Watson said.

When asked if Knight coming off the bench for 30 minutes could be a problem, Watson didn’t see the role in a negative way.

“I just think 30 minutes off the bench is really great,” Watson said.

He also, however, feels the battle for the starting positions will be a positive for the team leading into the regular season.

“But I also feel like competition is the best thing to breed roles,” Watson said.

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