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Suns GM: Suns should plan on keeping Isaiah Canaan rest of season

Phoenix Suns guard Isaiah Canaan (2) drives against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones (1) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)
LISTEN: Ryan McDonough, Suns' General Manager

After point guard Mike James’ two-way contract expired, the Phoenix Suns had to make a decision.

That decision was to waive forward Derrick Jones Jr. and sign James through the rest of the season.

As it turns out, the Suns will have another one of those decisions to make in the middle of the season.

Point guard Isaiah Canaan was signed under the hardship exception, giving Phoenix another body with Devin Booker expected to be out 2-3 weeks.

Under the rules of the exception, the Suns will have to create a roster spot for Booker when he returns, which looks to be sometime around Christmas according to general manager Ryan McDonough. The logical thought was that it would be Canaan, but with his play so far, that doesn’t seem like the safe bet anymore.

In his first two games, both Suns wins, Canaan is averaging 16 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.5 steals off the bench while shooting 60 percent from the field and 3-point range.

When asked about Canaan’s future on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo, McDonough indicated there’s a good chance Canaan sticks around.

“I think with what Isaiah’s done, we should plan on having him in Phoenix for the rest of the year, if not longer,” he said Wednesday.

“I think Isaiah’s certainly played well enough to find a home and be a guy we want to keep.”

The question now becomes, if not Canaan, then who moves out to get Booker back on the roster?

Center Greg Monroe, who came to Phoenix in the Eric Bledsoe trade, has a $17.8 million expiring contract and the Suns have Tyson Chandler and Alex Len at the position already.

The Suns, though, have been giving Chandler nights off and used the other two centers to fill the rotation as center Alan Williams recovers from a torn meniscus.

There’s also the aforementioned James, who has been the one sitting while Canaan plays. He did not play against the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday and played nine minutes (all in the second half) on Monday against the Dallas Mavericks.

If Booker is back sometime around Christmas, McDonough will have a couple more looks at Canaan before making the choice.

After the Suns face the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, they play Memphis Thursday, Minnesota Friday and then Memphis again on Dec. 26.

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