The Phoenix Suns have decided to shut down Eric Bledsoe for the remainder of the season, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports Radio. Head coach Earl Watson said after the game it was a “management decision.”
Bledsoe is easily Phoenix’s best player, averaging 21 points, six assists and five rebounds per game. He said he was playing through left knee soreness but was not available to comment after the game.
— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) March 16, 2017
“Bled’s been great, he had a great season, he played at a high level,” Watson said. “He’s been dominant all year. He’s taken a big leap in the right direction. There’s a lot of room for him to grow and he’s excited about that.”
The Suns have lost 12 of their last 18 games, and shelving their top playmaker should result in fewer, if any, wins in the final 14 games of the season.
In other words: It’s tank season.
The Suns (22-46) hold the NBA’s third-worst record just above the Los Angeles Lakers (20-48) and the league-worst Brooklyn Nets (12-54). But the 76ers (24-43) and Magic (24-44) aren’t too far ahead of Phoenix either.
If the season ended today, the Suns would land just under a 16 percent shot at each of the top three picks in the 2017 NBA draft and more than a 50 percent shot at landing a pick between No. 4 and No. 6. If they tank harder than the Lakers, who have benched three starters, Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov and D’Angelo Russell, those odds become significantly more favorable.
It’s unlikely the Suns catch the Lakers in the end of the year tank-a-thon, but shelving Bledsoe shows they’re all-in to go for it.