GM: Devin Booker injury doesn’t force Suns to scramble on trade market

Dec 28, 2022, 4:49 PM
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns watches from the bench during the first half of the NBA game ag...
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns watches from the bench during the first half of the NBA game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Footprint Center on December 19, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns enter Wednesday’s matchup with the Washington Wizards at a record of 20-15, and news of Devin Booker’s re-evaluation timeline of four weeks for a left groin strain begs the question of what that record will be when he returns.

Booker joins Jae Crowder (not with team), Cam Johnson (meniscus tear), Cam Payne (right foot strain) and Landry Shamet (right Achilles soreness) as Phoenix players on the roster that currently are not playing.

Given how shorthanded the Suns are and how the team’s already nearing its loss total from last season (18), there has been an outcry from a portion of the fanbase for them to execute trades right now for immediate help.

Suns president of basketball operations and general manager James Jones answered the question of if Booker’s absence puts on some pressure to get going on deals.

“No. From Day 1 it hasn’t been dictated by the players, it’s been dictated by the opportunity,” he told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo Wednesday. “My focus on continuing to think about the team for the long term to finish strong, that’s at an all-time high. This doesn’t change that.

“Internally, it puts pressure on how we use what we currently have but it’s not one of those things that forces our hands and has us out there scrambling to do whatever we can possibly do because it’s about what we can do that’s going to make us the best possible team at the end of the season.”

Phoenix has been forced into trying many lineup variations, including starting a two-center look in Tuesday’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Jones noted that part will be a bit hazy and fuzzy until the team is eventually whole again.

“For our team in the short team, it’s going to require us to kind of hold it together,” he said. “As we get a lot of our guys back, we should have a few of our guys coming back soon and that should help us buoy the team but there’s no replacing what Book gives us.”

Jones indicated part of the diagnosis for Booker was relief that it wasn’t the type of injury that could cause him to miss the rest of the year but noted how this type of timeline and re-evaluation period is something where the Suns are being smart about the long-term future years ahead instead of a few weeks.

“It’s tough, it’s tough to lose Book,” Jones said. “He’s Book. You’ve seen time and time again what he means to the team and how dynamic he makes us. But it’s one of those tough spots where it could have been a lot worse. It could have been something that kept him out for the entire year. Instead, it’s something that’s going to put him out for a month.”

Jones declined to give an update on a timeline for the return of Johnson or Payne, but noted Payne is likely further along than Johnson at this point. Johnson will miss his 28th straight game on Wednesday while it’ll be eight straight for Payne.

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