EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Suns remain practicing, hard at work with Chris Paul’s status up in air

Jun 16, 2021, 1:00 PM | Updated: 1:05 pm
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul congratulates teammates during a timeout in the second half of Game 4...

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul congratulates teammates during a timeout in the second half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets, Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Phoenix Suns will try to treat this week like they did during all other points of adversity over the course of the season, but this one is undeniably different.

With Chris Paul in the NBA’s health and safety protocols after testing positive for COVID-19, per Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro, his status for the Western Conference Finals is now up in the air.

The team announced the next update for Paul will come on Saturday.

Until then, the Suns are going to try to stay focused on the task at hand. The good news for them is that it was made easier by nothing changing in their practice schedule because of Paul’s status. The team practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday, and head coach Monty Williams liked what he saw.

“It’s too much to try to handle all at one time right? We’re just gonna do the next right thing, and that’s focus on the next practice, the next film session — I just left our gym, the spirit was unreal,” he said Wednesday. “Our guys understand that we’ve dealt with stuff this year, other teams have dealt with it, it’s just part of the NBA.”

Williams has preached that approach all year. He said he doesn’t try to overthink these types of things, irrevocable facts and uncontrollable situations he can’t do anything about.

What he can do is get his own mind ready for the possibility of Paul missing games.

“Thankfully, we put ourselves in a position where we have time, but as a coach, I have to think through those scenarios,” he said. “I’ve thought a lot about it, and we haven’t made a decision just yet because we don’t have to, but it’s a process for me to not only think about who starts but the rotation after that because it can change a lot based on who we go with as a starter and how your bench rotation changes.”

Paul was out for only two games in the regular season. For the one he was sidelined for due to an injury in early February, veteran combo guard E’Twaun Moore started in his place. That, however, was when both Paul and backup point guard Cam Payne were out.

Moore faded in and out of the rotation in the regular season, and the only game since that start he played at least 20 minutes in was the finale against the San Antonio Spurs when Paul rested and Payne started.

Williams repeatedly said the situation is still about unknowns more than anything and he’s trying to leave that to himself, not his players.

“We try to go about our business in a fashion that’s appropriate for the day,” he said. “For me, I have to think ahead with a number of scenarios, but I don’t want the players doing that, so we try not to fill out their minds with too much information. Naturally, you think about stuff, but there’s no reason to jump the gun or make a decision until you have to.”

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Suns remain practicing, hard at work with Chris Paul’s status up in air