Suns G Cam Payne ‘close’ to returning after long road back from foot injury

Feb 18, 2023, 1:00 PM
Cameron Payne #15 of the Phoenix Suns passes the ball during the first half of the NBA game at Foot...
Cameron Payne #15 of the Phoenix Suns passes the ball during the first half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on November 22, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Good news is just around the corner for the Phoenix Suns, and it not only has to do with the debut coming soon of Kevin Durant.

Point guard Cam Payne, who has missed the last 21 games because of a right foot sprain, sounds like a guy who could be back right away after the All-Star break.

“I’m close. I feel good,” Payne said Thursday. “Played ones today, pretty active. Body feels good, just kind of getting back in shape now.”

Head coach Monty Williams said earlier in the week that Payne was ramping up his conditioning, a positive sign that Payne was able to see the finish line of his rehab.

Payne, the team’s backup point guard to Chris Paul, last played on Jan. 4. But really, Payne first injured his right foot on Dec. 13. He was then out for nine games before returning for two when he would re-injure that foot.

So really, Payne has missed nearly three months.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “I probably say toughest part just coming into the gym every day watching the guys play especially when I wanna play so bad. It’s just been kind of tough, man. I’m ready to play.”

Payne is one of the most important players to the Suns’ success and it has been surprising to see them fare well without him. From Landry Shamet to Duane Washington Jr. to Saben Lee, other players filled in, and sometimes that meant starting while Paul was injured as well.

Payne this season is averaging 12.1 points and 5.3 assists per game. In 14 of his 28 games, he filled in for Paul, and was great. The rapid lefty puts pressure on the rim like few others, a needed skill set in the rotation and has always brought the required effort defensively.

Without Payne as of late, it has been two-way guard Saben Lee as the point guard among the reserves. Lee has done very well, especially considering he was a mid-season signing and is 23 years old.

If Payne returns for the first game, that is Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. That is his old team, where he was teammates with Durant.

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