EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Devin Booker staying in touch with Suns, keeping up while away with COVID-19

Sep 29, 2021, 4:37 PM | Updated: Sep 30, 2021, 1:13 pm
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns warms up before Game Two of the NBA finals against the Milwauke...
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns warms up before Game Two of the NBA finals against the Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns Arena on July 08, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns are two days into training camp and their longest-tenured player remains away from the team.

Shooting guard Devin Booker has been out due to health and safety protocols, with Booker later clarifying on his Twitch stream Sunday that he indeed has COVID-19 and has for about a week. Booker wasn’t at the team’s media day on Monday or the first two days of camp, as he’s got some boxes to check before his return. The team said it won’t have any updates on Booker’s status until he comes back.

Booker has been on the team’s Zoom meetings and in communication with both the coaching staff and players.

“It’s obviously different because Book is the face of the franchise,” head coach Monty Williams said Wednesday. “He’s one of the reasons I came here so when you don’t have him in the building, it’s different. But we’ve been in communication. He understands what we do, the guys know his situation and I’m sure he’ll get back in here and just fit right in.”

Williams did go on to say that Booker does miss out on those conversations that the coach will have to the side with a few players after each practice. talking about a specific thing or two here and there.

Center Deandre Ayton said it’s definitely a bit off without such a consistent presence like Booker but they know he will not miss a step upon his arrival.

“Book ain’t ever missing, for real. Cuz you know once he come up in this building, we better be ready. Period,” Ayton said. “We gotta be ready because he’s gonna be ready. He’s been working. When I call him he’s always in his weight room doing something, touching the ball doing something.”

MONTY ON BOOK’S OLYMPICS

Williams spoke on what he thought of Booker’s terrific play for Team USA in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a tournament in which Booker was a starter and one of the team’s best all-around players en route to a gold medal.

“I was just blown away because I really, for me, as somebody who’s with him every day, I think people just see Book as a scorer,” Williams said. “And it’s like, you really don’t understand basketball if you think that. But the most impressive thing for me was for him to get on that plane with Middleton and Holiday after the Finals to go serve his country.

“That’s, to me, the measure of who Book is. I thought it took a lot of character and integrity to do that. And then when I was watching him play, even in the championship game, he took two charges. And those charges changed the game. And that’s not something that he gets enough credit for.”

Williams went on to joke but not really joke that his only concern were the handful of possessions Booker spent guarding Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert when the United States played France in the gold medal game. That’s quite the physical endeavor for a guard to take on, so fair point to coach on that one!

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