Suns Notes: Paul, Payne, McGee, Ayton, Sarver

Suns head coach Monty Williams enjoyed being involved in the All-Star festivities over the weekend, leading Team LeBron to a 163-160 victory in Sunday’s contest. However, he didn’t let the event distract him from preparing for life without Chris Paul after the break, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes. The All-NBA guard is expected to miss at least six-to-eight weeks due to a fractured thumb.

“Naturally, you have to,” Williams said of preparing to play for Paul’s absence. “I’ve had meetings with our coaches about what we’re going to do going forward. Different lineups. Rotations. How we’re going to play. Chris is a huge part of what we do. And so we’re not going to try to replace him. We’re just going to try to play the same way and keep our standard at a high level and I’m grateful for the depth that we.”

Examining the impact of Paul’s injury on the Suns, Cole Huff of The Athletic suggests it might not be a disaster for the team. Huff believes Phoenix – which has a 6.5-game lead for the West’s No. 1 seed – can hang onto the top spot in the West, and points out that even if Paul’s absence extends into the first round of the playoffs, the team would still be heavy favorites against a No. 8 seed.

Here are a few more notes on the Suns:

  • After previously reporting that the Suns expected Cameron Payne to return from his right wrist injury in the first game after the All-Star break, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) now says the veteran point guard may need a few more days before he’s back on the court. With both Payne and Paul sidelined, Devin Booker, Aaron Holiday, and Elfrid Payton figure to take on more ball-handling responsibilities.
  • Noting that JaVale McGee and Deandre Ayton have been two of the NBA’s most effective pick-and-roll big men so far this season, Zach Harper of The Athletic wonders how their production might be affected with Paul not in the lineup.
  • Speaking to reporters at All-Star Weekend, NBA commissioner Adam Silver didn’t provide an update on the league’s investigation into Suns owner Robert Sarver, simply stating that it’s “ongoing.” However, general manager James Jones said he believes the probe should be completed “soon,” Rankin writes for The Arizona Republic.
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