EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Suns’ plan weeks in making underway as practice starts at NBA bubble

Jul 9, 2020, 8:13 PM | Updated: 10:03 pm
Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams virtually speaking with the media after practice Thursday in...
Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams virtually speaking with the media after practice Thursday in Orlando, Fla. (Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Suns)
(Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Suns)

If you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance you have learned what your brain is like if you have to stay inside for more than 24 hours.

There’s a certain level of agitation that can develop, an itch to get out and do something. You can imagine that is heightened for professional athletes who are so often active.

So after the Phoenix Suns’ players and staff cleared two separate coronavirus tests at the NBA bubble in Orlando, those who were at practice were, and they were energized as you might expect.

“A lot of guys came out, man, crazy,” guard Cameron Payne said over a Zoom call Thursday. “Everybody just ready to get back on the court.”

“Coming over from the hotel, (seeing) how many guys just wanted to sit and talk because they hadn’t been around each other in so long … The gym was great,” head coach Monty Williams said.

With media not at practices and Williams declining to say who wasn’t participating or there, it’s unknown as to who on the Suns was involved. And he wouldn’t even say what the timeline is on the return of those who aren’t present.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents unforeseen variables like that one that will force adjustments out of everyone. For now, the Suns are planning for what they could control, and that went back months to preparing for Thursday and beyond.

“We’ve had conversations with our training and medical staff for weeks now,” Williams said.

“We have a plan that we put in place that gives me a bit of structure to use as a template every day. At the same time, I want to try to fil the gym and see if I can push a little bit more or pull back.”

It sounded like this first practice was more just about getting out on the court and back to what used to be normal.

“I enjoyed watching the guys interact and the practice was a lot of shooting, getting up and down a little bit but I’m also cognizant that we haven’t been together in a while and I didn’t want to push too much but the guys gave a lot today,” Williams said.

“It felt great just seeing everybody, being able to dap each other up, say, ‘Great shot!’ Just little things like that that you miss about the game that you don’t get back when you sit at home and you’re not with the guys,” Payne said.

As the guard broke down with the intricacies of hooping being back, the new normal isn’t all that new in some ways when you really get down to it.

“The interaction today … it’s not weird when we get in the gym,” Williams said.

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