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Phoenix Suns’ Channing Frye: ‘I never felt like I was done’

PHOENIX, Ariz. – A new, yet familiar face rejoined the Phoenix Suns Monday.

Channing Frye is back, cleared to resume all basketball activities.

“After close consultation with our team cardiologist Tim Byrne, doctors at Johns Hopkins, doctors at Columbia; after getting all of that information, Channing was cleared and he’s decided he wants to play, and at the end of the day that’s the most important thing for him and his family,” Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said.

The news comes more than a year (376 days to be exact) after the team announced he would miss the 2012-13 season because of an enlarged heart that had been discovered during a routine physical.

“It’s been a long year,” Frye said at Suns Media Day. “It’s been one of the hardest years I’ve ever had to go through just because I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t rehab it. It was something that I just had to sit and wait and heal.”

About the only exercise Frye was allowed to do was golf, yoga and set shooting.

“It’s just been a long road of trying to stay active without being active. It was very serious and we took it very serious,” he said.

With a wife and two young kids at home, Frye said he would not have resumed his playing career without their blessing.

“For me, my family comes first,” he said, “but they were like, ‘Look, we know you and we know that you have to do this to the fullest.’ And if at any point doctors had said, ‘Look, this is just not going to work out,’ I would’ve just stopped.”

But he doesn’t have to.

“I just want to play ball. It’s what I’m supposed to do, and I never felt like I was done,” he said as he wore his familiar No. 8 Suns uniform.

Frye said he has no restrictions, is under no medication but must be tested every six months.

And while he isn’t yet in basketball shape, he does plan to be on the court on a limited basis Tuesday when the Suns open their five-day training camp in Flagstaff

“Nobody gets on a treadmill going 20 miles an hour. You got to start and progress,” he said.

Added general manager Ryan McDonough, “We’ll be patient with him as he tries to get into shape.”

With the 6-foot-11 Frye, who will make $6.4 million this season and has a $6.8 million player option for next season, the Suns regain both an inside and outside presence.

“That’s another weapon,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He’s a great shooter; a guy that can help us spread the floor.”

Frye is a 39 percent career 3-point shooter, which automatically makes him the best outside threat on the team.

“With his range, my game is going to expand. I’m going to have so much space under the basket,” center Marcin Gortat said.

Much has changed with the Suns since Frye, who is also more than a year removed from right shoulder surgery, last played. He’s approaching his eighth NBA season with an open mind.

“I’m excited to be a part of it and to challenge myself and to maybe get better,” he said. “You never know what might happen. It’s a new coach, a new team, new energy, and so for me it’s just a chance for me to be the best Channing I can be.”

He’s already off to a good start: He’s healthy.