Is Earl Watson playing bad on purpose? I think he might be and here's why:
1. He hates Hill. He's a tough coach and he's not going to baby him. In a league where money equals power, even a marginal player like Watson can be a coach killer when you have a lame duck coach.
2. He can't get over the fact that he's not as good as Luke this year. He thought he had a shot at starting this year, and now he it appears he will never start for this team.
Both points above are complete speculation on my part but the problem is more than just minutes with Earl. In fact, Earl's minutes are similar to his time with us last year and that is only because when he's on the court he plays horribly. He comes in the game like clockwork and always gets extended run. The problem seems to be that players like Earl and Damien would rather fail than admit they are role players.
Damien is playing better than Earl, but still just well enough to get by. They both think they are 30 minute players and won't start trying hard until they get the 6th man role (which neither are good enough to fill right now) or a starting job.
Not helping matters is Danny Fortson who would rather sit than earn his 6.5 million dollar salary. We have found ourselves with a bench full of malcontents who lack drive and character to succeed as role players. The roles aren't changing, so the only hope is that Hill can have a "come to Jesus" talk with Earl and Damien and find a way to get on the same page.
Who would have thought the team would be on the brink of disaster because of whining from Earl Watson? Earl has become a cancer that has spread to other players on the team. The most important season in Sonics history and we have a bunch of babies on the bench. Now it comes down to a Hill death watch. How long can they afford to keep Hill around if Earl, Damien and maybe even Nick, can't or won't play for him?
This type of scenario is why it was so shortsighted to not give Hill a mandate or find a different coach. Tough coaches need the full support of management to keep players from stabbing them in the back.
It has always been my hunch that Damien thinks he's big time and doesn't embrace his role because he's afraid of becoming a role player. Last night just confirms it. He's more concerned about getting back at his uncle for not drafting him than he is helping the Sonics win games.
Earl probably has no respect for Luke Ridnour. He can't stomach being his backup, even though that's what we brought him here to be.
Even Nick may be upset about not getting the starting nod and feeling the sting of playing back up to Wilcox. In fairness, Nick hasn't been whining to the media and probably doesn't deserve to be grouped with these jokers.
A lot of this comes down to age. What team has done well with a bunch of role players in their mid 20s? Memphis under Hubie Brown did well, but he had the full support of team management. We are spending a lot of money for role players, but are they old enough or smart enough to accept their roles?
Note to Earl and Damien: Playing like crap will never get you a bigger role or more minutes. Limited minutes give you the opportunity to play harder and be more effective. Being effective is the best way to get more minutes or a starting role in the NBA. The more you hurt the Sonics with your whining and poor play, the more your careers will suffer.