PHOENIX SUNS

GM James Jones asks Suns, staff to rest at start of coronavirus break

Mar 14, 2020, 12:03 PM
James Jones, Suns general manager (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)...
James Jones, Suns general manager (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)
(Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

There’s hopefulness within the Phoenix Suns that the 2019-20 season hasn’t come to an end.

But there’s also a point that general manager James Jones expressed to his team soon after the NBA shuttered its season for at least 30 days due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“To just make sure that our players, our coaches, our staff to know that their health and well-being is more important than anything else,” Jones told Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports.

“Although there are different things that you can do as we figure these next few days out, I’ve instructed our staff and our players and our coaches to stay home, to rest, to sleep, to try to get as much rest as possible because that’s the best remedy for any sickness or any illness.”

Of course, the coronavirus reaction in the United States has led many sports leagues to keep things fluid.

The Suns had not scheduled practices two full days after the NBA announced it would suspend the season, but those could ramp back up as soon as next week.

The basketball operations staff also had no choice but to suspend work. The cancellations Thursday of postseason conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament took away the Suns’ ability to scout college players in person before the 2020 NBA Draft.

“It affects us because you always want to see players perform in that tournament environment where it’s a win-or-go-home situation,” Jones said. “You can learn a lot about a players’ character, about their ability to step up in big moments and their ability to make winning plays when it really matters.

“For the most part, a lot of these guys, they have a great body of work — 30 games in the college season, preseason. So we have enough to feel really good about the top prospects that we like.”

And for the Suns’ rostered players — in a vacuum outside the serious realities of coronavirus — the break could be beneficial should the season resume.

Center Deandre Ayton was seemingly close to returning from a minor ankle injury that kept him out of the last three games.

Forward Kelly Oubre Jr.’s meniscus surgery on March 3 put him on ice for four weeks, putting a potential return at the start of April. That is before the current projected 30-day league suspension that would lead to a resumption of play as early as mid-April.

Rookie forward Cam Johnson was ruled out on March 9 for at least two weeks due to a case of mononucleosis, putting his potential return at March 23.

And forward Frank Kaminsky, who been out since Dec. 28 with a stress fracture of the right patella, remains out indefinitely but wasn’t ruled out for the year.

Getting those key contributors back could give Phoenix a critical team-building run at the end of the season that could catapult them into next season. That’s if the regular season resumes at all.

“I mean, our guys want to play,” Jones said. “We’ve had our ups and downs and we’ve had our challenges — you know the injuries have mounted for us — but if you look at it, it actually might end up being a good thing for us, the fact that we’re afforded a couple extra weeks to get healthy. This is part of the season where everyone’s tired, everyone’s banged up. You try to make the best of bad situation.”

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