Suns staff, players staying in touch as coronavirus puts season on hold

Mar 17, 2020, 4:01 PM
Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams, right, talks with Suns guard Devin Booker (1) during the se...

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams, right, talks with Suns guard Devin Booker (1) during the second half of a basketball game against the LA Clippers Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Clippers 130-122. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

There aren’t many times where we can relate to an NBA head coach, but Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams is doing what most are around the country and world: He’s spending just about all of his time at home with his family, making occasional runs to the store as most remain under self-quarantine due to the spread of the coronavirus.

While there’s uncertainty globally and locally regarding the severity of COVID-19 as the wait for more information and testing continues, Williams and his staff also don’t know if they are done for the season.

The unknown hasn’t been evident in any league more than the NBA, where now seven players have reportedly tested positive as more teams get testing.

Williams and the Suns have remained in communication as things continue to change.

“All of our guys are doing well,” he told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo Tuesday. “(General manager) James (Jones) and myself have been in contact with a bunch of our guys and our medical team certainly stays in contact with all of our players and staff and all of the indications we’ve gotten back is our guys are doing well. Nobody has shown any symptoms to cause any kind of alarm.”

The CDC advised against gatherings of 50 people or more for at least the next two months, which eliminates NBA games given the number that quickly adds up through players, coaching staff, referees, broadcast and arena staff, etc.

That, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, looks like a minimum three-month hiatus for the league as they target a return in mid-to-late June as a best-case scenario.

Williams and the Suns have been following the protocol from the league for the time being.

“We’ve just done what everybody else is doing,” he said. “Just trying to stay safe and get as much information as we can.”

Williams and his staff are preparing for multiple outcomes, from various forms of the season being cut short to the remainder of the regular season being finished in the summer.

“I think, for me as a coach, I’m planning for a number of options,” he said.

So with that comes a little bit of time still being NBA coaches, highlighting some areas they can make some progress on and further analyze.

“I talked to a few of our guys yesterday about projects that we want to take a look at, whether it’s end-of-game plays, or ATOs or some of our defensive numbers,” Williams said.

“We’re still in that mode of working. Not as much as we did before, but we’re still in that mode of preparing and working.”

Like everyone else in their situation, though, their mind can only stray so far from the current events.

“Just thinking about basketball right now just becomes tertiary even further down the line, because you go right back to people who are struggling with this virus,” Williams said. “And then not just that. Before this virus did what it did in our country and around the world, people are still suffering with cancer and diabetes and heart conditions in hospitals and at home that need care as well.

“You think about basketball, you think about preparation, you think about if we’re going to work again or if the season is canceled and then your mind goes right to people who are struggling with conditions that when you’re playing sport, sometimes sport makes you forget about that stuff. But this situation has made me for sure think about more than just myself and playing basketball.”

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