Devin Booker

Suns Notes: Ishbia, Ayton, Booker, Payne

With a change in majority ownership of the Suns franchise imminent, Gerald Bourguet of GoPhnx.com offers a 10-step wish list for incoming owner Mat Ishbia. Some of the items on the list includes improving relationships with employees, resolving the Jae Crowder situation with a trade, and committing to a G League franchise.

We have more on the Suns:

  • Deandre Ayton indicated during the morning shootaround on Thursday that he’ll play against Dallas tonight, Bourguet tweets. Ayton, officially listed as probable, has missed the last three games due to an illness.
  • In the latest official update on Devin Booker‘s condition on Wednesday, the Suns said their star guard would be reevaluated in a week. Booker, who is recovering from a left groin strain suffered on Christmas Day, could return to action by the end of the month, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM tweets. Gambadoro anticipates Booker will return next week during either the home game against Toronto on Monday or Atlanta on Wednesday.
  • Cameron Payne missed his 10th straight game on Thursday due to a right foot injury. The team said on Tuesday that he’ll be reevaluated in a week and Payne says he’s not quite ready to play, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. “It’s been an awkward feeling,” Payne said. “I just don’t really feel that comfortable. Like I can’t be myself. When I’m able to be myself, that’s when I want to get back out there on the court.”

Devin Booker To Be Reevaluated In One Week

Suns guard Devin Booker is still at least a little ways off from returning to action. The team announced today that he’s making progress in his recovery from a left groin strain and will be reevaluated in about one week, as Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports relays (via Twitter).

When the Suns made their initial announcement on Booker’s injury on December 28, they said he would be reevaluated in four weeks. Today represents the four-week mark, so we got our update, but the club didn’t provide any concrete info on the star guard’s status or potential return timeline — he’ll miss at least one more week, but we don’t know much beyond that.

The Suns were 19-14 entering the Christmas Day game in which Booker returned from a groin injury and almost immediately aggravated it. They lost that game and nine of their next 11 to slip to 21-24 on the season, though they’ve rebounded nicely as of late. Since Cameron Johnson made his return from meniscus surgery last Thursday, the team has won four straight contests and is back over .500 (25-24).

Although they’re on a hot streak and got Chris Paul back this week from a hip issue, the Suns remain awfully shorthanded in the backcourt, with Booker, Cameron Payne (foot), and Landry Shamet (foot) all on the shelf. Payne hasn’t played since January 4, while Shamet has missed the team’s last four games.

Six teams are currently within one game of the seventh-seeded Suns in the Western Conference standings (in one direction or the other), so the sooner Booker is able to get back onto the court, the better.

Injury Updates: Booker, Paul, Metu, Green, Smith Jr., Ingram

Devin Booker isn’t close to returning from his groin injury, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic tweets. The Suns star, who was injured on Christmas Day, has been limited to non-contact drills, according to coach Monty Williams. There’s no firm date for Booker’s re-evaluation.

Suns point guard Chris Paul suited up on Sunday against Memphis after missing seven games due to a sore right hip, Rankin adds.

We have more injury news:

  • Kings forward Chimezie Metu underwent an MRI on his left knee, which showed no structural damage, James Ham of TheKingsBeat.com tweets. Metu has a bone bruise and is listed as questionable for Monday’s game against Memphis.
  • Grizzlies shooting guard Danny Green continues to progress from the torn ACL in his left knee, which he suffered last May, Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com tweets. Green is playing 5-on-5 with no setbacks, but there’s no timetable on his return to action. The veteran wing was traded by Philadelphia in June.
  • Rockets rookie forward Jabari Smith Jr. is listed as questionable to play on Monday against Minnesota, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. He missed Saturday’s game due to a right ankle sprain. Kevin Porter Jr. will sit out for the seventh straight game due to a foot injury.
  • Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram played 5-0n-5 in practice on Saturday, Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets. Ingram has been sidelined since Nov. 25 due to a toe contusion.

Pacific Notes: Reaves, Booker, DiVincenzo, Fernandez

Because Lakers guard Austin Reaves only received a two-year contract when he had his two-way deal converted in September 2021, he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency after the 2022/23 season. During an episode of the Late Night Lake Show podcast, Jovan Buha of The Athletic suggested that Reaves will be in line for a substantial raise on his current minimum-salary contract.

“From what I’ve heard on that, it’s going to be more than (Alex) Caruso money, that’s for sure,” Buha said, according to Jacob Rude of Silver Screen and Roll. “It’s going to be double digits.”

When Caruso left the Lakers for Chicago last summer, he signed a four-year deal worth just shy of $37MM. Buha’s comments indicate he expects Reaves to receive at least $10MM annually on his second NBA contract.

While the Lakers haven’t been in position to make competitive offers to certain standout role players, including Malik Monk this past offseason, they’ll hold Reaves’ Early Bird rights in the summer of 2023, giving them more flexibility to make a strong bid. As Rude points out, the Gilbert Arenas provision will also apply to Reaves, so rival suitors won’t have the ability to make an offer the Lakers can’t match.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Asked before Wednesday’s game if Devin Booker‘s return from a groin injury on Christmas Day felt rushed, Suns head coach Monty Williams pushed back against that notion, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “In this case with Book, every box, to my knowledge, was checked,” Williams said. “Before you put a guy back on the floor, you have to do that.” Booker, who suffered a setback four minutes into his return, is now expected to miss at least four weeks.
  • Donte DiVincenzo has a championship ring, is in his fifth NBA season, and is respected by the Warriors‘ young players, but he’s also just 25 years old and feels like he’s still developing, according to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. As Thompson writes, that makes DiVincenzo something like a “middle child” in Golden State, falling between the team’s older veteran generation and its younger prospects.
  • Before becoming the Kings‘ associate head coach under Mike Brown this season, Jordi Fernandez spent six years in Denver on Michael Malone‘s staff. As Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee relays, Malone still thinks highly of his former assistant, who is coaching the Kings while Brown is in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. “I think one day Jordi will be a head coach in this league,” Malone said. “He’s been a head coach in the G League. He’s got great international experience. This team is on the right path with the right coaches, so I’m really happy for them.”

Devin Booker Out At Least Four Weeks With Groin Strain

After returning to Phoenix to undergo additional evaluation on his injured left leg, Suns guard Devin Booker has been diagnosed with a left groin strain and will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

According to the team (Twitter link), Booker will be reevaluated in four weeks, meaning he’ll be on the shelf until at least late January.

Booker initially missed a pair of games on December 11 and 13 due to left hamstring tightness. He returned for two games, including a 58-point outburst against New Orleans on Dec. 17, then missed three more due to left groin soreness. He attempted to return on Christmas Day vs. Denver, but only played about four minutes before reaggravating the injury.

Booker’s absence is the latest setback for a Suns team that has had some bad injury luck so far this season. Starting point guard Chris Paul missed 14 games in November and December due to a heel problem, starting forward Cameron Johnson has been out since November 4 while rehabbing a knee injury, and key reserve Cameron Payne has been unavailable for Phoenix’s last seven games due to a foot issue.

Of course, the Suns have been without Jae Crowder all season as the front office looks to trade him. The club also has an open spot on its 15-man roster.

Playing without Booker will be the biggest challenge yet for the Suns, who are 2-4 this season without their leading scorer available (2-5 counting Sunday’s loss to the Nuggets), even after an impressive win over Memphis on Tuesday. Phoenix has a 20-15 overall record this season, but could have a hard time keeping pace in the West with eight of its next 10 games on the road.

In 28 games entering Christmas Day, Booker had averaged 28.0 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.8 rebounds in 35.6 minutes per night, with a shooting line of .477/.370/.850.

Western Notes: Poeltl, Sabonis, Booker, Gobert

Spurs center Jakob Poeltl has continued to play limited minutes since returning from a seven-game absence due to a bone bruise in his right knee, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News notes.

Poeltl hasn’t played more than 24 minutes in five games since suiting up again. He was extremely effective on Monday against Utah, contributing 16 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and two steals during that time frame in the Spurs’ victory.

“It’s just about finding a rhythm again, getting back in shape,” said Poeltl, an unrestricted free agent next summer who could get dealt prior to the trade deadline if the Spurs find the right offer.

We have more Western Conference news:

  • Kings big man Domantas Sabonis isn’t considering surgery for the fracture in his right thumb, James Ham of The Kings Beat tweets. He hopes to return to action soon and will be reassessed regularly, depending on effectiveness and pain levels. De’Aaron Fox said it will difficult to go without Sabonis if he needs to miss a stretch of games, Ham adds in another tweet. “It’s going to take everybody, it’s going to take a village to make up for the production that’s going to be missing from him,” Fox said.
  • Suns star Devin Booker returned to Phoenix after Sunday’s Christmas game for further evaluation after reaggravating a groin injury during the first quarter of Phoenix’s loss at Denver, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reports. Phoenix is currently on a six-game road trip. Booker had missed three games before his early departure against the Nuggets.
  • Despite the trade for Rudy Gobert, rebounding remains a major issue for the Timberwolves, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune writes. Minnesota began the week 25th in the league in defensive rebounding percentage. Coach Chris Finch has said the problem is mainly due to a lack of effort from their wings and guards, rather than Gobert and the other bigs.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, LeBron, Booker, Leonard

The Lakers are hoping to remain in the Western Conference playoff race until Anthony Davis returns from a foot injury, but Sunday’s game provided further evidence of how hard that’s going to be, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. L.A. had an 11-point lead at halftime, but gave up 51 points in the third quarter of a 124-115 defeat at Dallas. It’s the Lakers’ fourth straight loss, and they have surrendered at least 124 points in each of them.

“Reality is, without AD, we lose a lot of length, which we don’t have already,” LeBron James said. “So, we have to make up in ways that, without AD, is very difficult, very challenging. So, I think at one point we had a lineup of I think (Austin Reaves, at 6-5) was the tallest guy on the court. So, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out (that Davis is sorely missed).”

Coach Darvin Ham has been trying different lineup combinations to break the slump, but he’s limited by a lack of size throughout the roster. The starting backcourt features two 6’1″ guards in Patrick Beverley and Dennis Schroder, and 6’3″ Russell Westbrook saw some time at center on Sunday.

“You throw everything up against the wall and see what sticks,” Ham said. “It’s one of those types of situations. AD’s not here, not in the lineup. We’re not going to start using that as an excuse. Hell yeah, it’s a big hole in our lineup. But now, we’re pros. We’ve got to step up.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers are in danger of wasting the end of James’ phenomenal career, says Jovan Buha of The Athletic. With his 38th birthday arriving this week, James is putting up unprecedented numbers for someone his age, but it might not matter if Davis doesn’t return soon or if the front office can’t find some way to upgrade the roster. After scoring 38 points Sunday, James was candid about the challenge his team faces. “How many times are you going to try to dig yourselves out until it’s too much dirt on you?” he asked.
  • Suns guard Devin Booker was forced to make an early exit from Sunday’s game after reaggravating a groin injury, according to Zach Harper of The Athletic. Booker was returning after missing the team’s previous three games, but he was only able to play four minutes before being ruled out.
  • With the Clippers playing on back-to-back nights, Kawhi Leonard will be held out Monday at Detroit due to injury management for his right knee, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Leonard is expected to face his old team on Tuesday in Toronto.

Devin Booker Expected To Return On Sunday

Suns guard Devin Booker is expected to be available on Sunday following a three-game absence due to a groin injury, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Phoenix will be visiting the West-leading Nuggets in the fifth and final game of the NBA’s Christmas Day slate. Booker is officially listed as questionable for the contest, but Wojnarowski’s report suggests the Suns’ top scorer won’t miss the opportunity to play on a national stage in a marquee Western Conference showdown.

Booker, a three-time All-Star, is averaging a career-high 28.0 points per game in his first 28 contests (35.6 MPG) this season for the Suns. He has also contributed 5.8 APG and 4.8 RPG with a shooting line of .477/.370/.850.

Assuming Booker is able to play on Sunday, he’ll presumably replace Landry Shamet in the starting lineup. Shamet started in Booker’s place on Friday after Damion Lee occupied that spot for the previous two games.

Suns Notes: Booker, Johnson, Williams, Bridges

The Suns fell to 1-4 on the season without Devin Booker after a lopsided loss to the Grizzlies Friday night, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. After scoring a season-high 58 points last Saturday, Booker has sat out three straight games with groin soreness.

“I am not going to downplay the fact that we miss Book,” Landry Shamet said. “Of course we do. He is an All-NBA guy. He should be in the MVP conversation. We miss him, but none of the basketball X’s and O’s stuff matters if we don’t pick up on that mentality, physicality. Hit first.”

Coach Monty Williams updated reporters on Booker’s condition before the game, saying he has started shooting again but still isn’t able to move around very much. He refused to speculate on whether Booker might be available for the Christmas Day game at Denver.

“He’s chomping at the bit as you can imagine,” Williams said. “Book’s frustrated when he’s not on the floor. Hoping he can get out there soon.”

There’s more from Phoenix:

  • Injured forward Cameron Johnson will accompany the team on its upcoming six-game road trip, Rankin notes in the same story. Johnson isn’t expected to play during the trip, which runs through January 4, but it’s still a positive sign as he works toward returning from November 8 meniscus surgery. Johnson was projected to miss one to two months, and he’s nearing the end of that timeline.
  • The Suns’ poor showing lately has included a couple of losses to teams that were able to push them around, Rankin adds. The latest occurred Friday as Memphis came into Phoenix and built a double-digit lead in less than four minutes on its way to winning the first quarter by 19 points. “Our edge in these games, whether it’s Boston, Memphis, these teams who are big and physical and want to put their hands on us, we don’t have the pre-game edge that we’ve had around here,” Williams said. “We’ve got to get back to chasing something and right now. I feel like the prey, and I don’t like that feeling. I just told our guys the same thing. We got to get our edge back.”
  • Mikal Bridges has apologized to Deandre Ayton for his role in Tuesday’s argument that was perceived as a dispute between Ayton and Williams, Rankin states in a separate story. Bridges and Ayton clashed on the court shortly before Ayton and his coach were seen yelling during the time out. “It’s something we do. I feel like it was longer than usual,” Bridges explained. “Me and (Ayton) usually get into it and then five seconds later, we’re like best friends because we can do that to each other.”

Injury Updates: Middleton, Maxey, Booker, Wright, Tate

After making his season debut on December 2 following offseason wrist surgery, Bucks wing Khris Middleton has now missed four consecutive games with right knee soreness. Head coach Mike Budenholzer provided an update on Middleton’s status ahead of Friday’s game against the Nets, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

I think, I would say he is making progress, probably not at the rate we had hoped,” Budenholzer said. “To be able to get work in, to be ready to play — it’s really still, he only played I think four, five games — so there’s still that being ready for an NBA game and all that goes into that. So, we’ll see how the next 24, 48 hours go. … But I think overall we’re encouraged. And I think he’s in a good place and he’ll play when he’s ready. It’s a long season. We have to be patient. It’s hard for Khris. It’s hard for us, but just keep the big picture in mind always.”

While Budenholzer is typically vague when giving health updates, hopefully the fact that Middleton’s knee has been slow to respond doesn’t keep him out of action for much longer. Through seven games (24.6 MPG), the three-time All-Star is averaging 11.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG and 4.4 APG.

Here are some more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Sixers head coach Doc Rivers isn’t confident that Tyrese Maxey will return for Sunday’s matchup against the Knicks, but he provided an encouraging update on Friday, per Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “He’s making great progress,” Rivers said. “[He] had a great workout [Thursday], so he’s close.” The third-year guard has been sidelined since November 18 after suffering a foot fracture.
  • Suns star Devin Booker has been dealing with groin soreness since Saturday’s victory over New Orleans, with Friday marking his third straight missed game. Head coach Monty Williams isn’t sure when the shooting guard will be back in action, according to Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter link). He’s been shooting the last couple of days. Not moving as much, but is progressing a bit…he’s chomping at the bit. As you can imagine, Book’s frustrated when he can’t play,” Williams said, adding that he wouldn’t speculate about whether Booker would play on Sunday.
  • The Wizards announced that guard Delon Wright, who has missed the team’s past 29 games with a hamstring injury, would be back in action on Friday against Sacramento, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). Wright should bolster the Wizards’ defense, which ranks 22nd in the NBA.
  • Jae’Sean Tate has been sidelined since October 30 due to a right ankle injury, having made just three appearances for the Rockets thus far this season. However, head coach Stephen Silas said on Friday that the forward’s return “looks like it will be pretty soon,” tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.