Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler seeing neck specialist

Feb 23, 2018, 12:58 PM | Updated: 1:05 pm
Phoenix Suns' Tyson Chandler (4) and Chicago Bulls' Denzel Valentine battle for a rebound as Robin ...
Phoenix Suns' Tyson Chandler (4) and Chicago Bulls' Denzel Valentine battle for a rebound as Robin Lopez watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

PHOENIX — Short-handed, again.

Despite the six-day All-Star break and nine days between games, the Phoenix Suns will likely not be at full strength on Friday. Starting center Tyson Chandler is expected to miss the game against the L.A. Clippers at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Officially, the Suns list Chandler as doubtful because of a neck spasm. He was not at shootaround. And he did not practice Thursday.

Chandler has had trouble with his neck going back before the break. He did not play in two of the last three games. An MRI was scheduled for Thursday.

“He’s seeing a neck specialist today to determine the severity of it,” GM Ryan McDonough said.

Backup point guard Tyler Ulis is also hurting, dealing with a low back spasm. However, he participated fully in shootaround and said he would try to give it a go as he walked off the court.

Like Chandler, Ulis has missed two of the Suns’ last three games.

“We’ll see how he does pregame,” interim head coach Jay Triano said of Ulis.

Triano would not say who would start in Chandler’s place. The most likely candidate would be Alex Len, especially given the Clippers’ size with 6-11 DeAndre Jordan and 6-10 Danilo Gallinari. The other option would be to start forward Dragan Bender at the five, which Triano has done in the past.

“I’d tell you guys but I don’t want to give Doc one more minute to think or plan around things,” Triano said, referring to Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

Triano had hinted this week of trying some new things, both in terms of rotation and scheme, over the season’s final 23 games. That becomes difficult, though, if players aren’t available.

“I had a real good plan until yesterday,” Triano said, smiling. “We’re going to reward guys that play the right way and if that changes the rotations, then so much for the schemes.”

The Suns have lost seven straight and 12 of 13 overall. At 18-41, they are tied with the Atlanta Hawks for the worst record in the NBA.

Their recent on-court struggles have only been magnified by the constant shuffling of players in and out of the lineup because of injury.

“It is frustrating. But there’s nothing you can do about it,” Triano said. “You can’t control things that you can’t control and I can’t control that. The eight days (off) has given me more pause for sitting back and saying, ‘I’m not going to stress about something I can’t control.’ I’m going to coach the guys that we have to the best of their ability.”

Two-way contract expired

Forward Danuel House’s days with the Suns are over. For now.

House’s two-way contract expired, so he is playing full-time with the Suns’ G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns.

Both forward Alec Peters and guard Davon Reed are also currently with the NAZ Suns.

Because the Suns signed House mid-season, his two-way contract was prorated from 45 to 31/32 days, according to McDonough.

The Suns could have made House a full roster player but then that would have required a roster move to create an open roster spot.

House is able to rejoin the Suns once the G League season is over.

“We’ll look at all that, and we’ll also be fair to Danuel if there’s another good opportunity with an NBA club on their roster we’ll consider letting him do that as well,” McDonough said.

In 16 games, covering a total of 21 minutes, House averaged 4.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.5 assists. He shot 37.3 percent from the field, 25.8 percent from 3-point range and went 16-of-19 from the free-throw line.

“I thought when he and Isaiah Canaan and Troy Daniels got put together in that second unit, playing a lot with Dragan Bender, the ball moved well. There was good shooting, there was good spacing. Those guys know each other. They’re all kind of connected through Houston,” McDonough said.

“He did a nice job for us.”

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