Injuries have Suns’ Devin Booker and T.J. Warren ‘questionable’ vs. Detroit

Mar 19, 2018, 3:46 PM
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Cl...
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tuesday, March 13, 2018, in Phoenix. The Cavaliers defeated the Suns 129-107. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX — The NBA defines tanking as when a team attempts to lose on purpose in order to improve its draft position. Often times that means sitting — or resting — its top players.

For the Phoenix Suns, who have been accused of such a tactic, it’s hard to sit their best players when their best players are already sitting because of injury.

Guard Devin Booker has missed two of the last four games, most recently Saturday against Golden State because of a right hand sprain. And now, forward T.J. Warren has been added to the team’s injury report.

Booker and Warren are the Suns’ No. 1 and 2 leading scorers, respectively, combining for nearly 45 points per game.

Warren removed himself from Saturday’s game with 5:19 remaining in the fourth quarter after hurting his left knee. It was a non-contact injury.

“I was running and I planted weird and I just felt like a little sharp pain and it’s been bothering me ever since,” he said Monday. “I don’t know if I overcompensated on the knee but — I felt the pain my rookie year so I’m familiar with it. It’s just one of those pains.”

An MRI showed no structural damage, just some inflammation in the knee, according to Warren. That’s the good news. The bad news is he’s walking with a noticeable limp, leaving his availability for the game Tuesday with Detroit very much in doubt.

Warren did not practice Monday.

Booker, meanwhile, was a limited participant in practice. He continues to be affected by his right hand, which he sprained in practice last week.

The hand, though still sore, is improving, Booker said. And he’s receiving treatment daily. But the soreness isn’t the problem. The problem is the splint Booker has been told he must wear in order to see action on the court again.

“I don’t think he likes it but I think it’s a mandatory thing and if it comes off and you don’t wear it, you don’t play,” interim head coach Jay Triano said.

Added Booker about the splint, “I’d like to just play without it but obviously the risk of hurting it again wouldn’t be good.”

At issue is how Booker feels shooting the ball with the splint.

“You have two fingers that are stuck together working as one and I’ve never shot with one before, so I’m sure if I got adjusted to it I’d be fine,” he said.

Booker missed the Warriors game because the splint made it too uncomfortable to shoot. In the game prior and without the splint, Booker missed 15-of-18 shot attempts at Utah.

The Suns officially list Booker as questionable to play against the Pistons.

“It’s not that serious of an injury but it’s obviously bothering (me) so I don’t want it to keep bothering but if there’s no risk of it getting hurt anymore I’m obviously going to play,” he said.

The stress of coaching

The news that head coach Tyronn Lue is stepping away from the Cleveland Cavaliers to focus on his health has reverberated throughout the NBA.

That includes Phoenix, where Triano took over the Suns just three games into the season.

Coaching is a challenge, regardless of level, even for young coaches, according to Triano.

“My advantage is I’ve done it for 22 years, traveled and been on an NBA schedule,” he said. “You learn after the first couple of years — when I gained 35 pounds and was horribly out of shape and in bad health — that you’d better do something to stay ready.”

For Triano that’s making sure he’s getting enough sleep. Six to seven hours a night is the goal, he said. And then are his dogs, Tonka, a Bullmastiff, and Sedona, a foxhound-pit bull mix.

“It started when I was coaching the Canadian team (during the Pan Am Games). Being the big city of Toronto there was such a vibe around the village and everything like that and my excuse was, ‘Sorry, I’ve got to go home, I’ve got to let my dogs out, I’ve got to go for a walk.’ Then I take them for a walk, and it was just my time after a game just to decompose and breathe and go, ‘OK, this is all right.’ They don’t know if we won or lost which was good.

“They hear an awful lot more than you guys do. I don’t know if they understand it,” he said, before pausing and then joked, “Actually, they might understand more than some of you guys do.”

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