Mar 28, 2013, 8:29 PM EDT
Goran Dragic has been one of the few bright spots during what has been an absolute train wreck of a season for the Phoenix Suns. But it appears his team is ready to play without him for at least a couple of games, for reasons that are blatantly obvious.
Dragic had his best game of the season in Sunday’s close loss to the Nets, posting a line of 31 points, nine rebounds, and 12 assists that (as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic pointed out) has been unequaled in the NBA by anyone this season.
Phoenix had a few days off and didn’t play next until Wednesday night in Utah, but Suns management decided that he needed some rest, and thus would sit that one out. The team has a right do whatever it wants to preserve the health of its best player and biggest asset, of course, but with Dragic healthy and the opponent being the Jazz, the circumstances surrounding the timing of the decision were questionable, at best.
From the Arizona Republic:
The move to hold Goran Dragic out of Wednesday night’s loss at Utah and Thursday night’s home game against Sacramento for rest was the first indication that the Suns might be tanking because of the timing. As the Suns held out their top player without injury, Utah remains one game behind the eighth-place Los Angeles Lakers, who must turn over a draft lottery pick to the Suns if they miss the playoffs. Phoenix gets Miami’s pick at No. 30 if the Lakers do make the playoffs.
“If you ask me personally, I would play,” Dragic said. “That’s why they make the decision.
“I can play. I’m in great shape. There’s always pain and bruises but you can always play through that.”
Of the timing with a game at Utah, Hunter said, “That’s not my concern.”
It’s easy to see how this could be viewed as the Suns simply attempting to position themselves for a better pick in the draft instead of trying to win games, and it’s even likely that’s exactly what is going on.
But the team could just as easily hide behind player development as the reason for Dragic’s benching, considering that rookie Kendall Marshall got the start in Dragic’s place in Utah, and dished out 13 assists (against five turnovers) in 34 minutes of action.
Teams can do whatever they want down the stretch of a lost season, and the NBA understands that this is going to happen. It’s the very reason there’s a draft lottery in place, instead of the top pick simply being awarded to the team who finishes with the league’s worst record.
Just don’t try to tell us that Dragic actually needs the rest.
- Cavaliers sold Kyrie Irving on contract extension with LeBron James-Kevin Love plan 3
- Kevin Love says Timberwolves owner should focus on his own team following trade to Cavaliers 15
- Iman Shumpert excited to play in triangle offense because he won’t just have to stand in the corner 4
- Timberwolves owner: Kevin Love might regret trade because he’ll be third banana with Cavaliers 46
- Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried lead Team USA in final World Cup tune-up 20
- Thunder trade Hasheem Thabeet to 76ers 36
- From late-arriving to a LeBron James favorite, Kevin Love comes full circle 15
- Clippers trade Jared Dudley and first rounder to Bucks for Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica 23