Suns’ James Jones: Devin Booker is ‘fine’ but Cam Johnson still out

Mar 10, 2021, 4:43 PM
Devin Booker (#1) of the Phoenix Suns reacts after a three-point shot against the Philadelphia 76er...
Devin Booker (#1) of the Phoenix Suns reacts after a three-point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half of the NBA game at Phoenix Suns Arena on February 13, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns will tip-off the second half of their 2020-21 season in Portland against the Blazers on Thursday.

And after an All-Star Break that didn’t include guard Devin Booker due to a mild left knee sprain, the biggest question for the Suns in their return was the health of their superstar.

Booker this season is averaging 24.9 points and 4.4 assists on 33.9 minutes per contest while shooting 49.6% from the field and 36.2% from three-point range.

“Devin should be fine. He had a good couple of days here, had a good day today before the team took off to Portland,” general manager James Jones told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Wednesday.

“I’d expect him to be ready to rock tomorrow. He, as well as the other guys, they have enjoyed this breaking just trying to get a little healthier and get set for the second half of the season.”

Jones added that the team will be at full strength except for forward Cam Johnson, who remains out due to health and safety protocols. The former North Carolina Tar Heel is averaging 10.4 points and 3.4 rebounds on 24.2 minutes per game while shooting 43.7% from the field and 37.8% from deep.

The Suns head into the second half of the campaign with a 24-11 record, which ranks as the second-best in both the Western Conference and NBA.

“We’ve afforded ourselves a little cushion because we played so well in the first half, but everyone is focused on the playoffs now,” Jones said.

“Rotations will get tighter. Guys will start playing heavier minutes. … Being that this is a unique year where you have a play-in game — you have 10 teams vying for the playoffs — I expect the competition to be better than years past.”

And for the first time in a decade, there’s real optimism that Phoenix is going to end its postseason hiatus.

“It’s still a marathon. It’s not a sprint,” Jones added. “The Western Conference — we’re jockeying for position. It’s a tough battle in the West for position.

“But once the playoff seeding is set, that’s when the real fun starts. You just have to be healthy enough to endure that gauntlet of the Western Conference playoffs.”

Jones doesn’t anticipate having to make splashy moves like that of the Brooklyn Nets signing Blake Griffin after the Detroit Pistons bought out his contract.

Instead, the general manager believes that the team will have to continue to improve “internally” and build from within. Jones added that the bench guys are the team’s “insurance” when it comes to depth in the playoffs.

“I expect us to continue to use our depth,” Jones said. “Monty (Williams) has shown throughout the course of the season from game-to-game, situation-to-situation, he has comfort and confidence to go to another guy.

“… I think we’ll still employ that next-man-up [mentality]. All 14 guys on our roster need to be ready to contribute and be thrown in the fire because that’s kind of how we’re built.”

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, right, is defended by Portland Trail Blazers forward Robert Covingto...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns get pounced on by Blazers in blowout loss

The Suns looked like they were back on the right track after beating the Lakers but they lost that against the Blazers the next night.
2 days ago
Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) passes as Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (27) pur...
Arizona Sports

Suns G Cameron Payne out Saturday against Trail Blazers

Phoenix Suns backup point guard Cameron Payne will miss Saturday night's game against the Portland Trailer Blazers.
2 days ago
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, right, scores over Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis duri...
Associated Press

Lakers’ Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis play down sideline incident

Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis say their confrontation on the Lakers' bench was a momentary disagreement that has already been resolved.
2 days ago
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) argues a call during the first half of an NBA basketball game aga...
Kellan Olson

Chris Paul provides ‘jumpstart’ to Suns in bounce-back win over Lakers

Nothing like a little get right game, and that's what the Phoenix Suns got on Friday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
3 days ago
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during the second half of the NBA game at Footpr...
Arizona Sports

Chris Paul becomes 1st player with 20,000 points, 10,000 assists in NBA history

Another accolade for Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul, one of the greatest to ever do it at any position.
3 days ago
Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver attends Game Two of the 2021 WNBA Finals at Footprint ...
Arizona Sports

Jordan Schultz further details expected report coming on Suns owner Robert Sarver

Sports reporter Jordan Schultz joined Arizona Sports to provide more details on his report of a story coming on Suns owner Robert Sarver.
3 days ago
Suns’ James Jones: Devin Booker is ‘fine’ but Cam Johnson still out