Suns’ Brandon Knight returns to practice

Mar 8, 2016, 3:28 PM
Phoenix Suns' Ronnie Price, left, and  Brandon Knight, endure the closing moments of the Suns' 142-...
Phoenix Suns' Ronnie Price, left, and Brandon Knight, endure the closing moments of the Suns' 142-119 loss to the Sacramento Kings in an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

PHOENIX — Suns guard Brandon Knight is nearing a return to the court after missing the past 20 games.

Knight practiced in full for the first time on Tuesday, but Phoenix did not scrimmage five-on-five to let him get a complete sense of where he is as he works from his sports hernia injury.

His status for Wednesday’s game against the Knicks at Talking Stick Resort Arena is still unknown.

“Knowing when to pull back,” said Knight as he looks to become comfortable again. “Little things that irk it. Just trying to wait until your body tell you it’s ready to do certain things. And like I said that’s the biggest thing.”

The Suns’ downward spiral continued while Knight was out as they’ve posted a 4-16 record. They have won three of their last five, which is the most successful stretch of play since early December when they won three of four.

The team’s offensive focal points have become center Alex Len and rookie guard Devin Booker. Interim head coach Earl Watson needs to figure out how he can get Knight to re-join the rotation smoothly when he finally does make his way back to game action.

“I’m excited to see how Brandon fits into our system,” said Watson. “He hasn’t played for us yet so I’m curious to see how he responds. I think it’s going to be great. We have nothing but the most positive visions of him fitting in. I don’t think you can into a game and say this is our first option. It could be Booker, it could be Brandon, it could be Alex, it could be all three could have 20.”

The trio of Knight, Booker and Len have only played 103 minutes together this season.

When Knight was playing under former head coach Jeff Hornacek, the Suns’ offense was centered around dribble penetration and pick-and-rolls. With Len’s emergence, there’s an adjustment for Knight since Watson has featured more post-ups and structure. Knight had the opportunity to take in the changes on the sideline, but hasn’t been able to experiment for himself.

“Pros and cons to both sides,” reflected Knight on having to transition to playing for a new coach from the sideline rather than in game action. “Definitely a con when you’ve got to get yourself back right. I would think it would kind of be easy if I had been playing and mentally be able to digest a lot of those things, but now I’ve also got to focus on getting myself back right and also doing those other things as well.”

Phoenix is hoping the 24-year-old can regain his early-season form that saw him average 21.5 points on 44 percent shooting and knock down just under 40 percent of his three-point attempts through the month of November.


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