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Dario Saric, Cam Payne practice before Suns’ hosting of 76ers

Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans passes the ball around Dario Saric #20 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of the NBA game at Phoenix Suns Arena on December 29, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns reserves Dario Saric and Cameron Payne could be available Saturday as the team hosts the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers.

Both went through a full practice Friday, but head coach Monty Williams cautioned that the team wanted to see how Saric’s and Payne’s bodies responded from the workout before the game. He said they were listed as questionable to play against Philadelphia.

For Saric, a return will be most welcome as he’s been out for a month. He last played Jan. 11.

After missing time in training camp with an ankle injury, Saric returned to appear in seven games before testing positive for coronavirus and then suffering another ankle tweak days after his return from sitting out due to health and safety protocols.

“It was a really rough two months for me, but now it’s behind me,” Saric said Friday on a Zoom call. “Can’t wait to play my first game back.”

Saric is averaging 10.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 assist over his seven games, where he played mostly as a backup center.

How Williams returns Saric to the rotation will be a point of interest considering the strong play from backup big man Frank Kaminsky, who four games ago was inserted in the starting lineup as a power forward alongside center Deandre Ayton. Perhaps continuing with that starting group will allow Saric to be inserted in his same backup role.

Payne is nursing a foot sprain that’s kept him out of action since Jan. 23. The backup point guard got off to a red-hot start this season and in 13 appearances is averaging 6.6 points and 3.9 assists in 17.5 minutes per game.

His eventual return likewise gives Williams options to juggle his rotation, as veteran guard E’Twaun Moore went from out of the rotation at the start of 2020-21 to playing significant minutes lately.

In six February games, Moore is averaging 8.2 points, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals in 22 minutes per game. He made one start at point guard to allow Chris Paul rest a hamstring injury.

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