Suns PG Cam Payne available for Game 5; Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard, Paul George out

Apr 25, 2023, 5:15 PM | Updated: 5:25 pm

Phoenix Suns Cam Payne...

Phoenix Suns backup point guard Cam Payne. (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

(Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

Phoenix Suns backup point guard Cam Payne (lower back soreness) is available for Tuesday night’s Game 5 against the Los Angeles Clippers, the team announced pregame.

Suns head coach Monty Williams added that Payne will be on a minutes restriction.

Meanwhile, the Clippers announced Monday that stars Kawhi Leonard (right knee sprain) and Paul George (right knee sprain) will miss Game 5 at Footprint Center.

Payne has not played since April 7 when he fell on his lower back in a 121-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. The 28-year-old averaged 10.3 points, 4.5 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game in 48 contests this season while playing an average of 20.2 minutes in those matchups.

His return could help provide a spark for a Suns bench unit that has scored the fewest amount of points of any team in the Western Conference playoffs.

Payne could also give Chris Paul and Devin Booker a little more rest during games, as the soon-to-be 38-year-old Paul is averaging nearly 39 minutes per contest this series while Booker is close to 44 minutes per matchup.

L.A. head coach Tyronn Lue said Monday that there was still a possibility Leonard could play despite missing the past two games with a knee sprain.

“He’s definitely hurt, it’s not load management where he’s taking time off,” Lue told reporters. “He’s shown in the past that he’s played through injuries in the playoffs so if it’s something he can play through, it has to be pretty serious.

“We’re not talking about he’s sitting because of load management or he’s tired. It’s nothing like that. It’s an actual thing. What the outside is saying, who cares?”

Lue’s comments come after TNT’s Chris Haynes reported on Saturday that Leonard had swelling in his knee following Game 2 and into the weekend.

When he’s on the court, Leonard has been a nemesis for Phoenix. Through two playoff game appearances, Leonard is averaging 34.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and six assists across 40 minutes per contest. He’s shooting 54.5% from the field and 60% from long range.

The status of George playing in a potential Game 6 or 7 remains murky at best.

“Whatever he’s doing right now. … Get your camcorders out,” Lue said when asked where George’s health was at. “That’s what he’ll be doing today.”

George has yet to play this series as he deals with a knee injury he suffered in March.

In 56 regular season games, George averaged 23.8 points on 45.7% shooting and 37.1% from long range to go along with 6.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists across 34.6 minutes per outing.

Phoenix Suns

Frank Vogel...

Arizona Sports

Positive reactions flood social media after Suns’ hiring of head coach Frank Vogel

Twenty days after the Phoenix Suns parted ways with one head coach, they hired another with the addition of Frank Vogel on Friday.

11 hours ago

Head coach Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the second half of the NBA game agai...

Kellan Olson

Frank Vogel to be hired as Phoenix Suns head coach

The Phoenix Suns have agreed on a deal with former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel to replace Monty Williams.

11 hours ago

Mat Ishbia...

Dan Bickley

Monty Williams’ windfall raises stakes for Phoenix Suns, Mat Ishbia

NBA ownership isn’t always fun and games. In Phoenix, the plot has thickened quicker than Monty Williams’ wallet.

1 day ago

Eric Lewis, referee...

Associated Press

Referee Eric Lewis not officiating NBA Finals amid Twitter burner account investigation

Eric Lewis was not selected to referee the NBA Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat amid an investigation.

1 day ago

Former Suns head coach Monty Williams...

Arizona Sports

Report: Pistons agree to deal with former Suns HC Monty Williams

Former Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams has agreed to a six-year deal worth $72 million to coach the Detroit Pistons.

2 days ago

Fans of the Phoenix Suns poses for photos outside of Footprint Center before Game Three of the NBA ...

Arizona Sports

Phoenix City Council vote passes to support Suns’ All-Star bids

The Phoenix City Council had a 9-0 vote on Wednesday in favor of supporting the bids from the Suns and Mercury to host All-Star games.

2 days ago

Suns PG Cam Payne available for Game 5; Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard, Paul George out