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Suns, Booker not ruling out opening night return from hand surgery

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX — Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker was as surprised as fans were when he heard the news that he required hand surgery.

“Well, it caught me off-guard,” Booker said with a splint on his right hand two weeks after the surgery at the team’s media day on Monday.

The 21-year-old said there wasn’t a specific instance or moment in which he noticed anything badly wrong with his hand.

After avoiding much contact at all in the beginning of the offseason before he signed his five-year, $158 million extension, Booker was working out in Phoenix when the process occurred.

“I just know I was getting shots up after practice and I was dribbling and I felt it happening again and I woke up the next morning and it re-swelled,” Booker said of the hand that saw him miss the last 12 games of last season.

From there, it was an MRI and a visit to the hand doctor that broke the news.

“I went in there, the doctor grabbed it (and) was like, ‘oh, it’s torn, we’re gonna have to operate on it,'” Booker said. “I was like, ‘what do you mean?'”

He had the surgery within a week of the news, and ever since, has been keeping up with his cardio while also getting in basketball work with his left hand.

“I always mess around a little bit, growing up, just shooting with my left hand but now I’m actually getting real work in with my left hand,” Booker said.

When the Suns announced Booker had the surgery on Sept. 10, an approximate time frame of six weeks was put on his return, placing him at a return roughly four-to-five games into the season.

That, of course, was an estimation, and the Suns like what they’ve seen from Booker’s recovery.

“Everything’s progressed well so far,” general manager Ryan McDonough said, noting Booker will be re-evaluated in roughly the next week and he had the sutures removed from his right hand last week.

“Hopefully over the next week or so, he’s able to start working back with the right hand again.”

They aren’t ready to rule out Booker being roughly a week ahead of schedule and playing opening night on Oct. 17 against the Dallas Mavericks.

“It’s just a matter of how quickly he can get back and how comfortable he is but I certainly wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of him playing opening night or sometime around then,” McDonough said.

“Obviously I want to be out there at full health, and until I feel that, I won’t play but that’s obviously a goal of mine is to make that first game against Dallas,” Booker said.

“The plan is to be ready for game one.”

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