GM James Jones mum on Suns coronavirus testing, arena plans

Mar 20, 2020, 9:25 AM | Updated: 10:10 am
James Jones, Suns general manager (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)...
James Jones, Suns general manager (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)
(Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

Of the major professional sports leagues, the NBA has been hit the hardest with positive coronavirus tests.

Fourteen people from seven of the 30 NBA organizations have tested positive for the virus that reached pandemic status this month.

For the Phoenix Suns, the virus has halted a season with the team holding a 26-39 record. The hope is the season can resume, but there is no certainty about how long the virus will keep the NBA out of action.

Suns general manager James Jones joined Doug & Wolf of Arizona Sports on Friday to discuss the latest. Here are a few pertinent questions answered.

On the health of the players and if they had been tested for coronavirus:

“Our guys are doing well. Our guys have been away, they’ve been pretty much in isolation the last few weeks. Everyone on our end, they’re doing well.”

Has anybody been tested for the virus?

“I get that question a lot. That’s the one thing I’m very sensitive with is our guys’ personal medical information. I’m pretty sure if one of our guys was doing in a bad way, people would know. The fact that our guys are doing well says that we’re in good shape.”

If everybody is OK, are you looking at public backlash some NBA players have taken … there’s a lot of public sentiment of ‘Why are NBA players getting tested when the general public is having a hard time of getting tested?’

“That’s not why (I am not answering). Like anything, it’s our guys’ personal information. Our guys have the ability to get tested, if they want to they can, but it’s not my place to tell the general public what our guys’ medical situation is.”

The suspension of the season could impact the renovations to Talking Stick Resort Arena. The first phase of the project was expected to begin as soon as the Suns’ season ended.

If the regular season resumes, will the Suns play at the Madhouse on McDowell, where the Mercury were slotted to play this year, in order to allow for construction to get underway at Talking Stick Resort Arena?

“We’ll cross that when we get there. I just know that we’ll figure it out. It’s important that we stay on schedule but at the same time it’s important that we play these games and we’ll figure that out if we get to that point.”

If the NBA resumes, how long would it take for players to ramp back up and get game ready?

“It’s going to take at least a couple of weeks. If you think about NBA training camps guys usually start to get themselves together. It takes about five days to get conditioned. It would probably take 15 to 20 days for guys to get back at a level where they could play competitively.”

Would you be excited for a play-in tournament to get into the playoffs, as commissioner Adam Silver has brought up?

“I try not to get too excited. Of course, anytime you talk about a play-in, anytime there’s a chance, it peaks your interest and you get excited about it. We’ll see. I’ll temper my enthusiasm, but if that opportunity presents itself, you can best believe we’ll be bouncing off the walls.”

How is the health of the players who had entered the season suspension either injured or sick? Cam Johnson was out with mononucleosis, Kelly Oubre Jr. was recovering from meniscus surgery and Deandre Ayton had suffered a sprained ankle.

“Cam Johnson’s getting better. Kelly’s rehabbing effectively, he’s been doing well. The bumps and bruises that our guys — Deandre and Aron (Baynes) — those guys are doing great.

“It’s been good for us from a health perspective. We just hope that when this thing does resume, if it does resume, it presents us an opportunity to be healthy and play.”

How have the players been staying in shape? Are the Suns sending the training staff to their homes for work or rehab?

“Our staff goes to our players. They’ll arrange sessions with them to try to make it convenient and limit the amount of travel and exposure that these guys … see. A lot of guys are professionals. They have … outside of basketball courts, most of them have weight rooms, physical therapy rooms, conditioning rooms at home, so they continue to work.”

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