Paul out for Suns, Johnson to return from knee injury vs. Nets

Jan 19, 2023, 10:43 AM | Updated: 1:08 pm

Phoenix Suns forward Cam Johnson is expected to return from a knee injury Thursday when the Brooklyn Nets visit Footprint Center, head coach Monty Williams told reporters on Wednesday.

Point guard Chris Paul, however, will remain sidelined, the Suns said at shootaround on the morning of the game.

The Nets will have point guard Kyrie Irving available after he was listed as probable with calf soreness. The team remains without Kevin Durant, who has been sidelined with a knee injury.

Paul on Wednesday had been upgraded to questionable on the injury report after missing the last five games because of right hip soreness. Both Josh Okogie (nasal fracture) and Landry Shamet (right foot soreness) were added to the injury report and are out. They join Devin Booker (left groin strain), Jae Crowder (not with team) and Cam Payne (right foot sprain).

Paul has not played since Jan. 6, missing the past five games.

A week into November, Johnson, who is listed as probable, underwent surgery in his right knee to remove part of his meniscus.

On the long end of the expectation that he would miss 1-2 months, he could have returned a week into the 2023 calendar year, costing him around 30 games. The Suns extended that timeframe that reached 37 games of missed action.

The Suns, now 21-24, went 6-2 with Johnson starting the season in place of Crowder, who remains away from the team as Phoenix searches for a trade.

Torrey Craig has replaced Johnson, but injuries to starting guards Paul and Booker, among others, have further eaten into the Suns’ depth.

Johnson, in a contract year, averaged 13.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists to go with 43% accuracy from three-point range before his injury.

The meniscus injury is the second for the 26-year-old.

Johnson had meniscus surgery on his left knee in November 2017 as a member of the North Carolina Tar Heels. He missed a little more than a month of time in that recovery — he injured it on Nov. 13, 2017, and made his debut that year on Dec. 20, 2017.

After the Suns and Johnson failed to agree on an extension this offseason, the forward’s injury history could play a part in negotiations as he reaches restricted free agency following this 2022-23 season.

Johnson required shoulder surgery in 2015 as a member of the Pittsburgh Panthers and then hip surgery in 2018 when he was with UNC.

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