The Phoenix Suns could finish with their worst record since their inaugural season 44 years ago, but the team's veterans insist that there isn't any tanking going on.
Their players are disheartened when the US Airways Center crowd supports the opposing team, but they understand the conflicted support in the season's final weeks.
"I understand it because they want us to turn around as fast as possible," Jared Dudley said. "At the same time, I think the team with the worst record hasn't even won the No. 1 pick for a few years (2004). At the same time, individual players are playing for their jobs, playing for next year, playing for reputation. We have to finish it out the right way. Hopefully, we win some games. You can't always count on making shots. But playing hard and together you can do."
The Suns have sat Goran Dragic for their last two games. He didn't want to, furthering the notion that Phoenix is losing games in hopes of a higher draft pick. At 23-50, they have the fourth-worst record in the NBA.
"We don't look at it as tanking because we've still got to go to practice every day," Jermaine O'Neal said. "If you go out there, you really are trying to win. It's a tough period with nine games to go and everybody wants that draft pick. I guess since the women's team (the Mercury won the WNBA draft lottery's No. 1 pick). I wasn't even here and I heard that a lot last year — tanking the season to get Brittney Griner. If you're going to do it, then that's what you do it for because she changes the outlook of that team right away. I don't believe any college player on the men's side can have the same effect as a Brittney Griner.
"Based off everything you hear, nobody in the draft could make this team a contender right away. You have to protect your entity."