Why isn't Jock Landale playing? 3 questions entering Suns-Jazz rematch

Here are three questions entering Saturday night's Suns-Jazz matchup set for 7 p.m. at Footprint Center.

Bally Sport Arizona is televising the game.

Phoenix (12-6) has won its last three games since losing at Utah, 134-133, last week, while the Jazz (12-9) have gone 1-3 in their last four games.

Utah is on a three-game skid with losses to the Clippers, Pistons and defending NBA champion Warriors.

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul talks to Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) in the second half at Footprint Center on Nov. 22, 2022.
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul talks to Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) in the second half at Footprint Center on Nov. 22, 2022.

What's keeping Chris Paul off the court?

Fair question right?

Here's how Suns coach Monty Williams answered it.

"I don't know," said Williams, when asked about the last part of checklist Paul needs to clear to play. "My YouTube degree doesn't go into medical. I just wait for them to tell me he can play. We're just not there yet. I don't have anything to add to that. If he was able to play, they'd be like, he's ready to go. He's just not there yet."

Paul has missed Phoenix's last eight games with what the Suns are calling a sore right heel. Williams even admitted last week people figured he'd be back earlier, but added the Suns haven't revealed what exactly what is wrong.

Nov 1, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Landry Shamet (14) is pressured by Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (1) in the second half at Footprint Center.
Nov 1, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Landry Shamet (14) is pressured by Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (1) in the second half at Footprint Center.

Landry Shamet is available to play Saturday after missing the previous seven games in concussion protocols. So the Suns are getting back a player who can score and will compete on the defensive end.

Williams said "we'll see" when it comes to a question of minutes restriction for Shamet.

Why isn't Jock Landale playing right now?

Monty Williams has shown in his time in Phoenix that if he makes a lineup change or rotation change, he'll stick with it if the Suns won the game.

Take last season's Western Conference semifinals. He played Bismack Biyombo and Shamet instead of JaVale McGee and Cameron Payne in Game 5 the Suns won by 30.

Referee David Guthrie (16) tries to separate Phoenix Suns center Bismack Biyombo, middle, and Dallas Mavericks forward Marquese Chriss, right, as Mavericks forward Sterling Brown, second from right, argues during the second half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Phoenix. The Suns won 110-80.
Referee David Guthrie (16) tries to separate Phoenix Suns center Bismack Biyombo, middle, and Dallas Mavericks forward Marquese Chriss, right, as Mavericks forward Sterling Brown, second from right, argues during the second half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Phoenix. The Suns won 110-80.

He went with the same rotation in Game 6 the Suns lost in Dallas. Instead of going back to McGee and Payne, Williams stuck with Biyombo and Shamet and Phoenix got drummed in Game 7 to abruptly end its historic season.

This season, Williams decided to play Biyombo against the Knicks instead of Jock Landale, who had been the backup five to Ayton the previous 15 games.

He said it was based on matchups to match New York's physical bigs.

Not only did Phoenix win, Biyombo grabbed 10 rebounds.

Williams has stuck with the same rotation as the Suns proceeded to beat the Lakers and Pistons.

Nov 4, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns center Jock Landale (11) celebrates his 3-pointer against the Portland Trail at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic
Nov 4, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns center Jock Landale (11) celebrates his 3-pointer against the Portland Trail at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic

He doesn't like to play three bigs in a game.

So right now, Landale is the odd man out.

While Biyombo isn't a scoring big like Landale, he puts pressure on the rim with his dives and that helps the offense. He also plays with a physicality Williams likes.

Landale has been putting in extra work and his time will come again. He's too good of a player, but Williams will need to see the Suns struggle or lose with Biyombo as the backup five to switch back to Landale.

Is Lauri Markkanen having an All-Star season?

Absolutely.

He's averaging career highs in points (22.0 ppg.), minutes (33.5 per game) and field goal percentage (52.0%).

The 7-foot cooked the Suns for a career-high 38 points the last time Utah played Phoenix.

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, center, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac, left, and guard Reggie Jackson defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, center, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac, left, and guard Reggie Jackson defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

"You can put him in a lot of different situations and then when you're around him every day, he's really athletic," first-year Jazz head coach Will Hardy said. "Like he has great feet, he can run, he can change directions and with that size, on some of those off-ball plays, if he gets a step on you, because of his height and strength, it's hard to get back in front and make a play."

Very talented young man right there. Utah isn't sniffing a winning record without him.

That's an All-Star. Plus with the game being in Utah this season, he's definitely got a great shot at making it for the first time in his career.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Why isn't Jock Landale playing? 3 questions entering Suns-Jazz rematch