Cam Johnson’s return from knee injury for Phoenix Suns should be ‘soon’

Jan 11, 2023, 4:47 PM | Updated: Jan 13, 2023, 12:02 pm

(R-L) Devin Booker #1, Cameron Johnson #23 and Cameron Payne #15 of the Phoenix Suns react on the b...

(R-L) Devin Booker #1, Cameron Johnson #23 and Cameron Payne #15 of the Phoenix Suns react on the bench during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on December 20, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Wizards defeated the Suns 113-110. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns’ season was in a completely different state the last time Cam Johnson played.

A new starting lineup featuring him was a rousing success. Eight games in, the four-man unit of Johnson, Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges had played 148 minutes together and was outscoring teams by 29.5 points per 100 possessions, the best mark in the league at the time over 100 minutes.

Since then, a torn right meniscus for Johnson was the start of a plethora of injuries hitting the Suns. Inside that stretch had been Phoenix losing itself a bit in terms of playing through its identity.

That hit a low point on Tuesday when the Suns had seven total players out, including seven of the top eight players in the rotation if you include Jae Crowder (not with team). Despite that, Phoenix found a high point through a spectacular shorthanded win over the Golden State Warriors trending them back in the right direction.

All that together has Phoenix at a record of 21-21 entering Wednesday’s matchup with the Denver Nuggets as they are hoping for some reinforcements soon.

The reported timeline on Johnson’s absence was one-to-two months, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, a timeline that passed on Jan 3.

It appears Johnson has been ramping up his wind in the last week, running through plenty of conditioning drills after shootarounds and practices and before games. That would indicate he’s getting much closer to a return, something general manager James Jones confirmed on Wednesday.

“He’s in the latter stages of it but as far as a definitive timeline I don’t have anything,” he told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo. “I do know at some point soon we should get him back. I just can’t tell you if that’s going to be in five days, 10 days but every day he’s getting closer.”

The best summation of the Suns’ injury status is as follows.

Devin Booker’s left groin strain got a four-week timeline for being re-evaluated. That date comes up on Jan. 25. Cam Payne’s right foot sprain was a two-week re-evaluation set for Jan. 21.

Re-evaluation does not mean return date, so keep that in mind for those two.

Deandre Ayton (left ankle sprain), Chris Paul (right hip soreness) and Landry Shamet (right hip soreness) all sit in the day-to-day category, where the severity of their injuries is unknown but it’s safe to assume they are minor. Jones said he wouldn’t be surprised if Ayton and Shamet were back on Friday or early the week after.

A good bit of news for the Suns there is that after Wednesday, they will only play two games over seven total days until the start of a homestand on Jan. 19 against the Brooklyn Nets.

All said, if Phoenix can finally catch a break, it looks like it could be at full strength by the start of February or a little after that.

And with the trade deadline on Feb. 9, a Crowder trade could have another extra body in as well.

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