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Suns players bothered by team’s decision to sit a healthy Goran Dragic

Mar 30, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT

Lindsey Hunter, Goran Dragic, Wesley Johnson

When the Suns decided to rest a perfectly healthy Goran Dragic for the team’s last two games, there was really no question as to the reasons why.

Phoenix is all the way out of the playoff picture, and has been for some time. Winning games is no longer the priority for these Suns, while player development, in the form of giving guys like rookie point guard Kendall Marshall heavy minutes, despite there being better options available on the roster, is the focus moving forward.

That’s the altruistic version of what’s happening. Those more cynical, or perhaps even more practical, may view the Suns’ decision to play lineups featuring nowhere near the team’s best players as a way to tank games to finish the season, thereby earning a better chance of landing a higher pick in this summer’s NBA draft.

That notion, that the organization may not be as invested in winning as it was to start the season, isn’t sitting well with some of the team’s players.

From Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic:

The Dragic move privately disturbed some Suns who have been trying to adhere to the mantras for all-out effort, no excuses and a winning culture.

The Suns known for high effort — Dragic, P.J. Tucker, Luis Scola and Shannon Brown — have seen recent time reductions. Dragic sat out two games. Tucker did not play in a March 15 game when he was healthy. Scola averaged 13 minutes on a three-game trip that included his Houston homecoming. Brown logged eight minutes in a four-week span.

“It’s a business,” Tucker said of holding out Dragic at Utah, who could help the Suns to a second draft lottery pick if they pass the Los Angeles Lakers. “All that stuff doesn’t matter. We’re going to play regardless of who they play or don’t play.”

The one thing that’s unquestionably true is that if there is full-fledged tanking going on, it’s at an organizational level only. Players are simply not hard-wired to go at half-speed, and most are not going to be OK with losing games for any reason, much less because the team isn’t willing to field lineups featuring its best players.

The silver lining in Phoenix is that this is exactly what you would want to hear from the guys in the locker room, especially when considering who should be retained for next year as the team continues its rebuilding effort.

  1. bifford - Mar 30, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    No quote from Beasley about playing hard and caring about winning? I’m shocked.

  2. djjackson81 - Mar 30, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    I think it is what it is. Although the player may not like it. At this point and for awhile now this team was playing for playoff a playoff start. The organization has seen all they need to to know who they want to keep and who they don’t. Higher draft pick at this point is the way to go to rebuild the team. Some trades of the older guys would only free up cap space and better put the team in financial flexibility to make some improvements.

  3. mrlaloosh - Mar 30, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    They can tank all they want because everyone knows Stern will choose who gets the top picks. The lottery is a joke.

  4. fnc111 - Mar 30, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    Dumb move because the draft lottery is rigged by Stern and his going away present will be to give the Suns the 11th pick in the draft just watch and see Sterns ruthlessness.

  5. eatitfanboy - Mar 30, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Interesting theory with one major problem: There really isn’t a clear-cut number one pick this upcoming draft worth tanking for

  6. rickeye9 - Mar 30, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    how much has David stern fined them? he’s a fair guy right??

    • money2long - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:25 PM

      if that were the case he wouldn’t have nixed a proposed trade which each GM that was involved agreed on.

  7. redstar504 - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    That’s not true at all player development is extremely important I saw it last year with the hornets yes getting Davis was a nice side note but we were able to play bench guys heavy minutes allowing guys like Greivis Vasquez and Aminu to develop into pretty decent players. If your done your done. We say guys and it paid off pick wise and development we got a guy that turned into a good PG out of it.

  8. eugenesaxe - Mar 30, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    They should be more bothered by the fact that they suck, and shut up.

  9. vols84 - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    Lay off Stern. He is a good man. This org is a joke ever since Collangelo left.

    • mazblast - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:56 PM

      “Good” compared to WHAT?

      • pglive21 - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:13 AM

        Compared to caricatures of sports commissioners like Goodell, Bettman, etc.

  10. watermelon1 - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Players ain’t hard-wired, so please stop with that nonsense.

    One… They’re all friends now. They shake hands and give hugs before and after games. There’s no great rivalries anymore. Closest thing is a hard Ron Artest or Matt Barnes foul.

    These players get paid awesomely, and will follow whatever script the NBA wants them to.

    Winning is way down on the list if priorities.

    • Sideline Mob - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:37 PM

      You think Kobe’s happy to follow the script of this year’s Lakers team?

  11. kcflight - Apr 7, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    The Suns are going to suck for years to come. No franchise player, no offense. Not sure why tanking games isn’t against the rules. Maybe you should send the Phoenix franchise to Seattle or Vancouver if they are not interested in winning.

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