The Phoenix Suns have decided to shut down Eric Bledsoe, their starting point guard, for the remainder of the 2016-17 season. It had emerged that he’d been playing through an injury, as reported by Doug Haller of AZCentral sports.
Confirmed the Suns are shutting down PG Eric Bledsoe for the season. He’s been playing through knee soreness.
— Doug Haller (@DougHaller) March 16, 2017
The Suns made this announcement shortly after Bledsoe didn’t make it off the bench in Phoenix’s 107-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. It was only the second game he had missed all season.
Speculation surfaced about Bledsoe’s benching after head coach Earl Watson branded it as a “management decision,” before continuing that: “I don’t think any coaching staff would hold ‘Bled’ out, but Tyler (Ulis) stepped up,” as per Haller.
Asked why Bledsoe didn’t play, Watson said “management decision” said Bledsoe has had a good season. Sounds like he’s being shut down.
— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) March 16, 2017
With the playoffs out of reach and the season seemingly over for Phoenix, the Suns have decided to prioritize Bledsoe’s health over initial results, heaping a lot of responsibility on rookie, Tyler Ulis.
Bledsoe is having a career-season. The 27 year-old guard has averaged 21.1 points, 6.3 assists and 4.6 rebounds per contest. He’s the Suns second-leading scorer, while he currently leads the franchise in assists per game. His offensive capabilities will be sorely missed.
But Phoenix is in good, but significantly less-talented hands with Ulis. Plus, it gives the rookie a chance to get some more minutes under his belt and develop his game further. The Kentucky product is averaging 4.6 points and 2.4 assists a night in 12.1 minutes of action, but now his minutes are surely to increase, as will his productivity.
Despite the Kings result, Ulis had a career night as he notched 13 points and 13 assists in 39 minutes of action. Unfortunately for Ulis, his night was quickly forgotten as another rookie put in a stellar performance. Sacramento rookie Skal Labissiere notched 32 points, with 21 of them coming in the fourth quarter. Labissiere also became the first and only player from the 2016 Draft to score over 30 points.
13 pts (6-18 FG)
13 asts – career high
39 minutes – 1st career start #BBN
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) March 16, 2017
While not the preferred rotation change for Suns fans, they can take solace in the fact that this provides an exciting opportunity for their rookie guard. If he continues his form for the remainder of the season, Phoenix could be seeing a lot more of him next season.