Suns rookie Jalen Smith confirmed that his recent absence was a result of testing positive for COVID-19, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix had three games postponed this month because of a shortage of eligible players due to health and safety protocols.
“I had COVID for like 10 days,” Smith said. “For like those first, I’d say eight, I didn’t experience any symptoms, but then like basically the last night before getting off, my smell was faint and my taste was faint, but I got my taste back and my smell is starting to come back a little bit now.”
The virus isn’t the only obstacle that Smith, the 10th pick in last year’s draft, has encountered during his first NBA experience. He suffered an ankle injury during a workout last month and has only gotten into two games. He was cleared to return January 6, but tested positive the next day.
“Mentally, I’m fine,” he said. “It’s a process. I still got to learn a lot of new stuff that was put in while I was out, but it’s a part of basketball. I feel fine. it’s just a matter of me getting my wind back. Just continuing to get back into the motion with the team.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Suns star Devin Booker suffered a left hamstring strain Friday that will force him to miss tonight’s game and possibly longer, tweets Gerald Bourguet of The Step Back. “We’re really not sure,” coach Monty Williams said. “What I’ve been told is it could be day-to-day. Depending on how he feels, it could be another week.”
- Warriors coach Steve Kerr is coordinating the minutes for rookie center James Wiseman to get him on the court as much as possible with the team’s veteran leaders, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. So far, the No. 2 pick has played 267 minutes with Stephen Curry and 182 minutes with Draymond Green. “If we’re going to be a championship contender the next few years, those guys have to learn to play together,” Kerr explained.
- Lakers forward Jared Dudley is close to returning from a calf injury that has kept him out of action since January 8, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register (Twitter link). Coach Frank Vogel said Dudley is probably “a game or two out” from being available. The 35-year-old has played in just six games this season.