New Suns G, athletic scorer Terrence Ross available vs. Clippers

Feb 15, 2023, 5:25 PM

Terrence Ross #31 of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket past Caris LeVert #3 of the Cleveland C...

Terrence Ross #31 of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket past Caris LeVert #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second quarter of the game at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on December 02, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns guard Terrence Ross will be available on Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers, the team’s injury report confirmed.

It is the Suns’ final game before the All-Star break and allows them to get one step to closer to a look at their more complete roster after the trade deadline.

Kevin Durant (right MCL sprain), Cam Payne (right foot sprain) and Landry Shamet (right foot soreness) remain out.

The former Orlando Magic guard Ross was a pickup for the Suns off the buyout market, an 11-year vet with a knack for scoring, averaging 11.0 points over his career.

Suns president of basketball operations James Jones when joining Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Wednesday declined to say if Durant would be ready for the first game back on Feb. 24. Head coach Monty Williams said on Monday that Payne has begun ramping up his conditioning but Shamet is still a ways away.

Durant has missed the last 17 games and it was previously reported he would be out until after the break. The 6-foot-10 forward has been seen after practice getting shots up and looking mobile. Williams said Durant has been participating in drills and is in great shape but has not done any 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 yet, which are typically the last steps for a player before returning.

Payne re-injured that right foot in early January and will now be out for his 21st straight game. Shamet’s tally will reach 15 games on Thursday.

Both are notable names to bring up when it comes to Ross.

At 6-foot-6 and 206 pounds, Ross projects into playing some time at either the 2 or the 3. And with Devin Booker and Durant as his teammates, Phoenix could deploy lineups without a traditional point guard and let either All-NBA talent run the offense.

That leaves Ross competing with the likes of Damion Lee, Josh Okogie, Payne and Shamet for playing time, plus Darius Bazley, Torrey Craig, Ish Wainright and T.J. Warren if Williams elects to use smaller lineups.

While the current use of Bazley, Ross and Warren comes with an asterisk since they still have a system to learn, our first peek at new rotations on Tuesday resulted in Okogie and Craig starting. Lee and Wainright were the lone reserves to reach a dozen minutes and each broke 20. Warren received seven minutes while Bazley did not get a nod.

It’s a group where everyone has a case for minutes given what the reserves did to keep the Suns afloat through so many injuries.

Ross, though, brings a different skill set and one the Suns could really use off the bench.

“Profiles the type of player we need,” Jones said. “Athletic, scorer, can play with the starters, come off the bench. I love offense. I’ve never turned down a guy who is inclined or has a preference for playing offense.

“And I just think where he is in his career. He’s a guy that’s played on really good teams, he’s played in some rebuilding situations, he’s basically accepted whatever role the team needed from him and he’s demonstrated desire to win. He wants to compete for a title.”

Thursday’s tip-off is set for 8 p.m. and can be heard on Arizona Sports 98.7.

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