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After ‘awesome’ first practice, Phoenix Suns’ Channing Frye targets a return

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — After having the game taken away from him for over a year because of an enlarged heart, Channing Frye was anxious to get back on the court, anxious to once again be with his Suns teammates.

Perhaps he was a little too anxious.

“I called my wife like at 6:30,” he said. “She was kind of mad. I woke her up.”

Frye had been up for an hour-and-a-half, rising before the sun, ready for the first practice of training camp and his first practice in 17 months.

So, how did it go?

“It’s awesome,” he said. “I’m just soaking it all in. Even when I’m out here shooting, and I know I look exhausted out there, but everything I do is more like man, ‘This is just so awesome.’ In my mind I’m thinking as tired as I am, this is the best.”

Frye, who was cleared by doctors Sunday, participated fully in the non-contact session.

“I think for me just getting in better shape, getting stronger and continuing to pay attention to what Jeff (Hornacek) wants and what the guys want; but at the same time, certain drills, yes, but I don’t know if I’ll go 5-on-5 full court. I don’t want to put any team at risk of losing,” he said with a smile.

Frye surprised many practice observers with how good of a shape he was in and how much he was able to do.

“I’m not the worst. I’m not the best, but I’m closer to being the best. That’s the only way I can explain it,” he said as sweat dripped from his forehead after an end-of-practice shooting drill in which he made 152-of-200 shots, a performance topped only by Shannon Brown.

“I don’t know how many pounds I’m going to lose or what I’m going to do, but I know I need to get stronger and faster for who I want to be as a player. I think for me to be successful on this team — we’re going to take it slow but I’m going to push myself.”

Frye hopes to be able to scrimmage some later in the week and perhaps even make a cameo in the intrasquad scrimmage Saturday, which is set to begin at noon inside the Walkup Skydome.

As far as when he and his No. 8 uniform will be seen in the regular season, Frye doesn’t know because he isn’t sure how his body is going to respond. However, he does have a goal in mind.

“We’ll say, at best, December probably. I would like, but you know things happen. Maybe better, maybe worse,” Frye said. “I would like to play December. If not, I’m not going to be upset. I’ve just got to listen to my body and make sure I go out there — I don’t want to go out there looking like a bum. I want to go out there cooking.”

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