Suns guard Bradley Beal missed his sixth straight game on Saturday, but there was an encouraging sign that his debut with the team may not be far off, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Beal, who has been sidelined with lower back spasms, went through a 20-minute workout of dribbling, moving and shooting and was able to end it by repeatedly sprinting from one sideline to the other.
Beal isn’t expected to play in Sunday’s game at Detroit, but the team’s medical staff will see how his back responds to today’s exertion. With two off days to follow, it’s possible that Beal’s first game in a Phoenix uniform could take place Wednesday in Chicago.
“I’m just excited for him. I know how much these dudes love to play,” Kevin Durant said, referring to Beal and Devin Booker, who sat out today’s game with ankle soreness. “They hate just being on the sidelines. We don’t want them to rush. We don’t want them to feel like it’s pressure to come back because we lose a couple of games. We want them to be 100% healthy for the rest of the season. So it’s important now to continue to ramp yourself up however you need to.”
There’s more on the Suns:
- Jusuf Nurkic, who was acquired in a trade just before the start of training camp, continues to have trouble finishing at the rim, Rankin observes in a separate story. He shot 4-of-14 in today’s loss at Philadelphia and is connecting at just 41.7% from the field this season. Nurkic has started shooting more from the outside, with 14 three-point attempts in the last three games after just six in the first three.
- Keita Bates-Diop made his first start of the season as coach Frank Vogel tinkers with his starting lineup, Rankin adds. Bates-Diop, who replaced Josh Okogie in the starting five, delivered eight points, three rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes. Vogel won’t be able to establish a regular rotation until Booker and Beal are playing full time, and it’s possible the fifth slot will keep changing throughout the season.
- In an interview with Shams Charania on “Run It Back” (video link), John Wall said he would welcome the chance to reunite with Beal, his former backcourt partner in Washington. “Me and Brad are still brothers, we still talk a lot,” Wall said. “… If I could join their team, for sure, I would love that.” Wall, 33, has been out of the league since being traded to Houston and subsequently waived in February.