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Suns’ Greg Monroe was told he will play Thursday vs. Rockets

Phoenix Suns center Greg Monroe (left) arrived to Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix for the first time as a member of the team Thursday. (Photo by Eric Newman/Cronkite News).

PHOENIX – When the Phoenix Suns acquired center Greg Monroe, it was with an eye toward the future. As in the 2018 future, and specifically the 2018 offseason.

Yet, it appears the future is now as Monroe is expected to make his Suns debut Thursday against the Houston Rockets.

“He told me I’m going to play so I’ll be ready,” Monroe said, referring to interim head coach Jay Triano.

However, Triano had told reporters only minutes earlier following shootaround that Monroe’s availability had not been completely determined.

The Suns want to make sure Monroe is familiar “with what we’re trying to do offensively … and seeing what he’s comfortable with” before throwing him out there on the court, according to Triano.

“We can’t just go out there and play blind,” he said.

Triano added he plans to sit down with Monroe before the game to go over, again, the different offensive sets.

“I feel comfortable with most of them,” Monroe said. “It’s just about making sure I’m in the right place.”

At the time the Suns acquired Monroe, along with a future first-round draft pick and a 2018 protected second-round pick from Milwaukee in exchange for point guard Eric Bledsoe, they discussed three different options with Monroe and his agent.

The Suns could move him and his expiring contract to another team, buy him out of the remaining $17.9 million on his deal, thus freeing him up to join a contender, or play him; the latter seemed the least likelihood of the three.

Monroe has not played since Oct. 26 due to a left calf strain he suffered while with the Bucks.

Monroe is healthy now. He’s practiced the past two days, and with center Tyson Chandler going to miss Thursday’s game plus Friday at the Lakers because of an illness, the Suns could use Monroe’s size — he listed at 6-11 and 265 pounds — inside.

“Hopefully rim protection and a body inside to not allow them to get to the rim as much as they want to do,” Triano said, talking about the Rockets.

“They want to shoot a ton of 3s, they want to get fouled and they want to get to the rim. They do the three top analytic things offensively and we’ve got to take those away. We want to try to take away the 3 and hopefully if Greg plays, he’s able to protect the rim for us.”

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