In a tough season for the Phoenix Suns, Eric Bledsoe has been a rare bright spot, putting up career-best numbers in scoring and assists, while leading the team in both categories. Through 66 games, Bledsoe is averaging 21.1 points, 6.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds. On Wednesday night against the Kings, however, Bledsoe, despite being healthy, did not play.
Now, it appears we know why. According to multiple reports out of Phoenix, the Suns are shutting Bledsoe down for the season.
Suns have shut Eric Bledsoe down for the year— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) March 16, 2017
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
While Bledsoe has been mostly healthy all season long (tonight was only his second missed game of the season), he did suffer a hyperextended knee earlier this month. And while he was able to play through the pain, the Suns might simply be playing it safe with a player who missed most of last season following knee surgery.
It would seem certain, however, that the decision is being driven, at least in some part, by the chance at obtaining better odds for the lottery. Sitting at 22-46 following a loss to the Kings on Wednesday night, the Suns have the third-worst record in the league. While it’s quite unlikely anyone will finish with a worse record than the Nets this season, the Suns could “catch” the Lakers, who sport the second-worst record at 20-48.
With Bledsoe out of the lineup for the rest of the season, the Suns would be without one of their best scorers, and their best distributor, likely leading to more losses, which, at this point in the season, is in the best interest of the club.
Bledsoe, it would seem, is none too pleased with the decision.
😒— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) March 16, 2017