Coach Igor Kokoskov reiterated that Booker will be ready for Wednesday's season opener against Dallas, AZCentral.com reports.
This isn't breaking news, as the Suns announced Monday that Booker will be available, but Kokoskov left no doubt when asked about his star guard's health. "Devin's going to play on Wednesday," Kokoskov said. "There's no secret. He's ready. He's playing. He's excited." That should eliminate any remaining shred of doubt regarding Booker's injury situation, but it's still a bit unclear how, exactly, Booker will be used. The Suns still don't have a true NBA-caliber point guard on the roster, so the expectation is that Booker may fill that role for the time being, as he did for parts of last season.
Head coach Igor Kokoskov said Monday that Booker (hand) will play in Wednesday's season opener against the Mavericks, Duane Rankin of AZCentral.com reports.
Booker resumed participating in 5-on-5 work this weekend after being cleared for contact, and he has now been cleared to play in Wednesday's contest after undergoing hand surgery back on September 10. This puts him slightly ahead of his original six-week recovery timetable, but it's hard to imagine the Suns bringing their star guard back early if he wasn't 100 percent ready. It's unclear whether or not Booker will have a minutes restriction placed on him for Wednesday's game, but all the details surrounding his status should come well before tip-off against Dallas.
Booker (hand) was cleared Saturday to take contact in 5-on-5 practices, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic reports. "He looked good," coach Igor Kokoskov said. "As we all know, on any level that you play, when you're recovering from something, an injury, there's some kind of hesitation when it comes to the contact, but I don't see that in Book."
Booker was handed a six-week recovery timeline when he underwent surgery on his right hand Sept. 10, but the 22-year-old is hopeful to beat that timetable by about a week and suit up for Wednesday's regular-season opener against the Mavericks. Considering Booker has remained ahead of schedule through all steps of the rehab process thus far, he seems poised to achieve that goal, though it's unclear where he stands from a conditioning standpoint. With that in mind, it's uncertain that he'll take on his usual minutes load once he's ultimately cleared for game action, though it shouldn't be long before he's in optimal shape. Perhaps more so than potentially missing time to begin the season, the more significant consequence of Booker's injury is that it has prevented him from getting his feet wet at point guard in exhibition play. Booker is expected to open the season at his normal position at shooting guard, but with no established floor generals currently on the roster aside from 38-year-old Jamal Crawford, the Suns could eventually lean more heavily on Booker in more of a playmaking role.
When Booker first required surgery on his right hand Sept. 10, he was expected to need six weeks to make a full recovery, a timeline that would have resulted in him missing at least a handful of games to begin the campaign. While the 21-year-old has yet to resume taking contact, he has returned to some light shooting drills, perhaps increasing his own optimism about his chances of being available earlier than anticipated. Even if Booker doesn't reach his goal of suiting up in the opener, it seems apparent that he won't need much time beyond that to make it back on the court, so prospective fantasy owners shouldn't dock him significantly in drafts for the hand injury. Given the lack of promising options at point guard for the Suns, Booker could take on a greater role as a playmaker in his fourth NBA season, giving him a good shot at besting the career-high 4.7 assists per game he averaged in 2017-18.
Booker underwent successful surgery Monday to repair the fifth metacarpophalangeal joint in his right hand and is expected to need six weeks to make a full recovery.
It was reported over the weekend that Booker needed surgery on his hand, so this latest update doesn't come as a huge surprise. However, it does provide us with a concrete timetable for his return and the six weeks means there's a good chance he's unable to take the floor for the Suns' opener scheduled for Oct. 17 against the Mavericks. Still, if he progresses as expected, it doesn't sound like Booker will miss more than a few games, so it shouldn't have a drastic impact on his value come draft day and he'll remain one of the top-tier shooting guards in the league.
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