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Phoenix Suns rookie Jalen Smith recalled from G League

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

Rookie big man Jalen Smith was recalled back to the NBA by the Phoenix Suns on Friday after a six-game stint in the G League bubble.

Smith, the 10th overall pick in 2020, was assigned to the Agua Caliente Clippers and averaged 8.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game off the bench.

He struggled from the field, shooting 39% overall and 25% from three-point range.

Head coach Monty Williams said before Friday’s game in Chicago against the Bulls that Smith is with the team. The big man is listed as available on the injury report.

Phoenix also waived backup center Damian Jones before his contract was fully guaranteed on Thursday, leaving Frank Kaminsky as the long big man behind center Deandre Ayton if Saric is unable to play.

Smith appeared in eight games for Phoenix so far this year and shot 35% overall and 29% from three. He averaged 1.8 points and 1.3 rebounds in 6.3 minutes per outing.

His assignment to the G League is a rarity considering he was a lottery pick.

Two weeks ago, before Smith’s assignment to the bubble in Florida, Suns coach Monty Williams spoke on the rookie’s progression.

“He’s a diligent worker,” Williams said. “I don’t think any young player understands how hard you have to work to be a good player in this league. He embraced that part, which we’re really pleased with. He doesn’t miss days to get work in.

“We just feel like right now if he can pick up some of the vernacular, the nuances of certain situations, it’s going to help him get on the floor because you have to understand all that stuff as a young player.”

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