Suns guard Devin Booker, who left the team’s loss to Toronto on Tuesday with a left adductor strain, is expected to be sidelined for the next two or three weeks, the team announced today (via Twitter). That timetable would put Booker on track to return to the court sometime before the new year.
While the Suns have looked better under interim head coach Jay Triano than they did to start the season under Earl Watson, it has still been an uphill battle for the club, which has dealt with injuries to multiple rotation players and traded Eric Bledsoe last month. The Suns’ 9-17 record is the fifth-worst in the NBA, and that mark is unlikely to improve while Booker remains out of action.
Booker, 21, had been enjoying a career year for the Suns so far this season, establishing new career highs in PPG (24.3), APG (4.1), RPG (4.5), FG% (.453), 3PT% (.383), and several other categories, despite not playing fewer minutes per game than he did last season.
Booker joins Alan Williams, Brandon Knight, and Davon Reed on the injured list for the Suns, but even with four players sidelined, Phoenix won’t immediately qualify for a hardship provision, which would allow the team to temporarily carry a 16th player on its roster.
The rules for the hardship exception dictate that Booker would have to miss at least three consecutive games before Phoenix becomes eligible. So while the Suns may eventually apply for an injury exception, they won’t be able to use it immediately to convert Mike James‘ two-way contract to an NBA deal, as GM Ryan McDonough confirmed today (Twitter link via Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic). James is set to reach the 45-day NBA limit for two-way players.