USA TODAY Sports
Jared Dudley is the kind of guy you want on your team. He is well-spoken, loyal and a consummate team player. Rather than consider getting traded to a contender, Dudley's first inclination is to stick it out with the Suns and ride the wave back to the top.
Some of the more enlightened folks in this great land know that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. One such player is Jared Dudley.
"Just because our team's bad," he said to BSotS' own Jim Coughenour and SB Nation's Kris Habbas on Friday's podcast. "I don't want to jump off. No."
Listen to the whole, awesome podcast here. Really, it's worth your time.
He acknowledged that Suns players are definitely frustrated, but disavowed us of the notion that they all want out.
"I think there's a lot of frustration, and there should be frustration built in too," he said. "I don't care what anyone tells you. If you're on a team that's losing the way we are, people should be frustrated, annoyed, but still upbeat at practice to want to get better. So there's a difference. You can't be frustrated that you don't want to be a part of it.
"I am frustrated that we're losing. I'm tired of seeing the same mistakes. But I'm willing to put the work in to make those mistakes be very limited, if not at all."
He acknowledged the hanging heads we all see late in games, and that Luis Scola lamented earlier in the year while the notion was still newsworthy for post-game quotes.
"I definitely think the losses and the fourth quarters where a team makes a run and we can't buy a bucket, guys are like ‘here we go again' happens," Dudley said.
"But I definitely see Lindsey [Hunter] with the discipline and accountability in practice that the ownership wanted."
Dudley opined that, if he is traded, he would not want to go to another bad team. But even rather than go to a good team, he'd simply rather stay right where he is.
"It's easy to be in a good mood when you're winning," he said. "When you're losing, you need to stay in the gym, stay on guys. You never want to leave. I'll be the first one to tell you that if I had to leave, I don't want to go to a team that's bad.
"Phoenix, city-wise, is one of the top 5 destinations to go to, so why not just stay here and just get better?"
Jared Dudley is a realist. He knows that, once Nash and Hill left after Amare a couple of years ago, the Suns were going to struggle for a while to develop a new identity and to develop new stars to carry the team going forward.
He also knows he is not that new star. He won't be making any All-Star games, or joining the Dunk Contest or anything like that. And there's no "easy button" to get those new stars.
"I know I'm a leader here, I know my role here. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. I've been through the lows here and highs, all the way to the Western Conference Finals. For me personally, I can only do the stuff that I can control. And for me its working on my game and getting better each year. Being a positive attitude for the Suns."
Ideally, the Suns would be able to keep Dudley through this transition and have him as their veteran locker room leader when the team starts winning regularly again. Any team with young guys as their best talents need leadership on the court and the sidelines. Dudley would be a great fit in that role.
But before you can take advantage of that veteran leader to guide the new stars, you need those new stars. Otherwise, Dudley is just a captain on a sinking ship.
Dudley is 27 now and will be nearing the end of his contract when the Suns realistically start winning again.
Is it smart to keep him around before the going gets good again?
Or is it smarter to trade your best asset at the height of his value to a team willing to give up a good young player in return, one with a higher upside than Dudley?
Just be glad you're not the GM of the Suns. Tough decision indeed.