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Suns F Jalen Smith available vs. Nuggets after ankle injury, COVID-19

Jalen Smith #10 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the Dallas Mavericks at PHX Arena on December 23, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 106-102. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns forward Jalen Smith can hope a run of bad luck has ended.

The rookie hasn’t played since Dec. 26 due to a sprained ankle and a stint on the NBA’s health and safety protocols list.

“Right after when I got back (from the ankle injury), the next day I got COVID and then I missed a whole bunch more games,” Smith said Friday after a shootaround. “It was tough.”

The No. 10 overall pick was placed under health and safety protocols on Jan. 7. Smith had coronavirus for 10 days, but he said it wasn’t until the last few that he suffered from any symptoms — the loss of most of his smell and taste.

Smith’s taste is back, and his smell is improving.

Physically, he’s 85-90% back to where he was before the ankle injury.

“The good thing is I’m young, so I don’t really have nothing to be tired about,” Smith added.

Smith is listed as available for the Suns’ game against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night, but whether head coach Monty Williams goes to his rookie big man remains to be seen.

Smith appeared in the first two games of the year and earned that playing time because backup big man Dario Saric was injured. Lately, because Saric and center Damian Jones have been out the past two games due to health and safety protocols, Frank Kaminsky has played as the primary backup to starting center Deandre Ayton.

In the season opener, Smith scored four points to go with three rebounds, a block and an assist in 16 minutes. He grabbed two boards in four minutes during the second game of 2020-21, his last appearance.

Smith suggested he’s ready to play Friday if Phoenix (8-5) needs him.

“Mentally I’m fine. It’s a process … it’s just a matter of me getting my wind back, just continue to get back into the motion of the team,” Smith said.


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