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Phoenix Suns’ Channing Frye surprises again, expects to play in season opener

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Admittedly, Channing Frye is not good at making predictions.

He predicted he would not do much in training camp, yet he was a full participant.

He predicted he would not play in the intrasquad scrimmage, yet he logged 24 minutes.

And he predicted he would not play in any of the eight preseason games, yet there he was on the court in Portland Wednesday, scoring 14 points in 16:07 against his former team.

So, about that prediction of a regular season return in December?

“Yeah, that’s too late. We’ll cancel that,” he said with a smile Friday. “I’m a little more in shape than I thought I was. I just continue to push myself and here I am. That’s the last time I make predictions.”

Fourteen months ago, Frye and the Suns announced he would miss the 2012-13 season because of an enlarged heart. He was cleared to resume all basketball activity only two days before training camp. Now, less than two weeks after rejoining the team, the former St. Mary’s High and UA standout said—barring any setbacks, he will suit up opening night.

“He continues to surprise us in his comeback,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “It’s great for us that it’s coming probably quicker than later. I don’t see why he won’t be ready start of the season.”

Frye, 30, has not played in an NBA regular season game since April 21, 2012.

“A lot of it has to do with—number-one Jeff has done a great job of like, ‘You practice as much as you want, then you let me know if you want to sit out and how you’re feeling.’ My attitude is ‘I’m all in,'” said Frye of his quick progression.

“For me, it’s really been awesome to get out there and run. We have the best trainers and training staff here so they’ve continually helped me to not only push myself to the max but then be able to recover and do it again the next day.”

His strength and his conditioning remain his biggest hurdles. They will be cleared, he said, with more practice time and more court time as he and the team gradually increase his minutes in the preseason.

“I feel like this is the right thing to do,” Frye said. “It’s the best thing for me to get back in shape. I’m feeling better already. The things that I need to work on, the only thing way I can work on them is to go out there and really see how other teams are going to play me, and that’s how I’m going to be able to adjust before the season starts.”

Given his performance in Portland there may not be too much for him to work on, at least offensively. He shot 5-of-6, hitting three 3-pointers.

“I didn’t have time to feel nervous,” said Frye of being back. “I had the whole first quarter to get rid of the jitters, and then the beginning of the second quarter, I was like, ‘Goran (Dragic), just give (the basketball) to me early. If I miss, I’ll cool off. If I make it, give it back to me.’ And I made it, so I was like, ‘Just keep giving it back.’ It was cool.”

Frye will play his second preseason game Sunday when the Suns visit the San Antonio Spurs. He’ll play his first home game in a year-and-a-half, returning to US Airways Center Tuesday as the Suns host the L.A. Clippers.