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Suns’ Dario Saric, Damian Jones rejoin team, clear protocols

Phoenix Suns forward Dario Saric (20) drives to the basket past the defense of as Los Angeles Clippers center Serge Ibaka, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Phoenix Suns centers Dario Saric and Damian Jones have cleared the health and safety protocols and are both working their way back towards a return to the team.

Both players are out for Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder but have rejoined the team. Saric was on the court pregame getting in some strength and conditioning work and also taking some shots. Both players were in uniform and in the layup line pregame.

Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro reports the team hopes he’s able to be back by Saturday’s matchup with the Dallas Mavericks.

The Suns had a meeting with the Washington Wizards on Jan. 11 and had their next three games postponed due to ongoing contact tracing. With that game on a Monday, the Wizards by Friday announced they had six players test positive for COVID-19.

When the Suns resumed action a week later on Jan. 18, Saric and Jones were on the injury report as out due to health and safety protocols. They became the second and third players to miss time due to the protocols, joining rookie Jalen Smith, who returned on Jan. 22 after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Saric is one of the most important players on the team, often used with both the first and second units because of his team-friendly play on both ends of the court. Saric and guard Cameron Payne led a surge by the reserves that helped the Suns win a handful of games to begin the 2020-21 season.

In seven games, Saric is averaging 10.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. Phoenix signed Saric to a new three-year contract worth $27 million in the offseason.

When Saric missed the beginning of the season due to a quad injury, Jones took his place as the backup center. He struggled in that role and the Suns signed Frank Kaminsky a week into the season.

Without Saric and Jones, the Suns have had to use Kaminsky as Deandre Ayton’s backup.


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