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GM: Kelly Oubre return not ruled out; not all Suns heading to bubble Tuesday

Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones speaks to the media regarding the firing of Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov, Wednesday, April 24, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones said the team’s travel party headed to the NBA bubble in Orlando on Tuesday is not yet determined and will not be complete.

A day before the team heads to Orlando to begin a months-long stay at Disney World for an eight-game resumption of the 2019-20 season, Jones suggested Monday that members of the party could join the Suns at a later date.

“We’re still figuring out our schedule,” he said on a Zoom call Monday. “We will have players traveling at a later date at some point. Who those players are, we haven’t determined yet.”

Jones would not say whether Kelly Oubre Jr., who is coming off a meniscus surgery in early March, would be part of the group heading to Orlando in any capacity. A June 17 report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania said that Oubre had been ruled out of action for the games at Disney World but that Oubre would travel with the team.

Earlier during the hiatus, Jones said Oubre and Frank Kaminsky were “stuck” without a facility to properly rehab their respective knee injuries. Jones would only say Monday that Oubre has resumed rehab since Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum opened for individual players to use.

“You can’t come to the gym, you can’t go into the therapy clinics, you can’t get on the court,” Jones said of Oubre’s slowed rehab after coronavirus shut down the season on March 11.

The GM left the door open for Oubre to still play for the Suns, insinuating the forward could travel to Florida at some point.

“Kelly’s been here … he’s been rehabbing and so my expectations for him are the the same as every other player,” Jones said. “Come in every day, practice with the team, work and compete and get yourself in position to play — and hopefully that’s before Orlando ends.”

It appears the Suns could be holding players in Phoenix either because they are in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus or they are continuing rehab.

The Arizona Republic reported on June 23 that two players tested positive for coronavirus, leading to a temporary shutdown of workouts.

Players and staff who test positive for coronavirus can rejoin their team later on if they pass protocols set by the NBA.

Phoenix’s training camp at Disney World is expected to ramp up next Monday after more testing is done upon their arrival. After training camp that includes three exhibition games against the Celtics, Raptors and Jazz from July 23-28, the Suns’ eight final regular season games don’t begin until a July 31 game against the Washington Wizards.

Jones is confident in the bubble and the protocols created between the NBA, commissioner Adam Silver and the NBPA.

“The GMs I’ve spoken to … we all believe the safest place to be is in the bubble,” Jones said.

“Here in Arizona, you sees the cases skyrocketing. Across the U.S., the cases are spiking, and our players are a younger generation, a social generation. I want to say the more constraints you can put in place, the better. The structure of Orlando will be beneficial for us, so our anxiety is getting to the bubble healthy.”

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