Injured Suns Cam Johnson, Cam Payne to be reevaluated after preseason

Oct 7, 2022, 1:00 PM
Adelaide 36ers' Mitch McCarron drives past Phoenix Suns' Cam Johnson (23) during the first half of ...

Adelaide 36ers' Mitch McCarron drives past Phoenix Suns' Cam Johnson (23) during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

Phoenix Suns forward Cam Johnson and point guard Cam Payne will be held out of the rest of the preseason, and the team said they will be reevaluated in a week after each suffered a finger injury in the preseason win Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson and Payne were at Suns practice Friday wearing protection on each of their injured digits: Payne’s finger on his right hand and Johnson’s right thumb.

Johnson played four minutes in the first quarter against the Lakers before sustaining the injury. Damion Lee took his place on the court.

Payne made his usual first entrance into the game around the six-minute mark to check in for Chris Paul before a ball off the backboard caught him in the finger. Payne only logged a minute before being taken out for Landry Shamet.

They will miss a Monday game at the Denver Nuggets and then a Wednesday preseason finale against the Sacramento Kings.

Both players are critical parts of the Suns’ rotation.

Johnson will be the team’s new starting power forward, taking Jae Crowder’s spot, who is currently not with the team after reportedly being told he would not receive a contract extension or starting spot. If Johnson were to miss time, head coach Monty Williams could turn to forwards Dario Saric or Torrey Craig as replacements, and could also go small with Lee or Josh Okogie. Saric was on the floor with the starters to close out the first half.

Payne is set to be Paul’s backup for the third straight season as the first guard off the bench. This is an area of the depth chart with fewer options. Shamet is already in the rotation as the backup two-guard, and beyond him, there’s just two-way signing Duane Washington Jr. and training camp invite Frank Jackson when it comes to ball handlers.

Johnson tallied 12.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game to go with 42.5% three-point accuracy in 2021-22.

Payne averaged 10.8 points and 4.9 assists per game last season in 22 minutes a night.

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