LOS ANGELES – Devin Booker has many reasons to smile at the moment even though he will miss his fifth game in a row Monday night.
First, the injured left hamstring is getting better.
Second, he at least got back on the field with his teammates to shoot.
Third, his team still rolls without him.
With the best record in the NBA, the Suns (21-4) was 3-1 without Booker in Monday’s game against the Clippers (15-12) at Staples Center as he continues rehab and training on his way back from injury.
“Hammy feels good, man,” said Booker, who injured his hamstring in the first half of the November 30 win over the Golden State Warriors. “Just got right back in. Finally I’m back on the field and doing some stuff. I’ve been lifting before. Feeling good to be back on the field while shooting. That’s always a plus.”
Booker thinks he needs some “contact” in practice before getting back into the action of the game. Suns coach Monty Williams likes to have players do 5v5 action before bringing them back to Earth.
However, the Suns program has a very busy schedule for the rest of this month which will reduce the training time.
- Monday: in clippers.
- Tuesday: in blazers.
- Thursday: vs processors
- Sunday: opposite the Hornets.
Charlotte kicks off a long two-day Phoenix play (11 games) from then through January 8, but the two days between Thursday and Sunday games seem like the perfect opportunity for Poker to get the “call” for the final. Green light to play.
“I think once we’re back in Phoenix we’ll be able to get on the field and have some ups and downs and check all the boxes,” said Booker, who struggled with hamstring injuries in the 2018-2019 season and last season. “I’ve been for the most part on air and stationary shooting.”
Booker is doing everything he can to get back, including spending time in the infrared therapy bed in his house.
“I once met him at his house and his room was all red,” Williams said last week. “I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ “He has one of those beds in his house that allows you to heal. He’s got a full set up in his house that some people don’t even enjoy in a spa. He’s got it in his house because he’s dedicated to staying healthy and recovering.”
Booker even has one in Los Angeles that he plans to spend time in after the Monday morning shooting. The All-Star twice said he had it shipped to him on the road during last season’s playoffs as the Suns made it to the Finals.
“Just red lights, infrared,” Booker said. “Cell penetration. It’s good for healing. It works for me. Some people feel it’s a myth.”
What’s not a myth is that Booker wants to get back in action, a mindset that forces Williams to be careful when bringing players back from injury.
“We have men who don’t like to sit,” Williams said. “So we have to err on the side of extreme caution with our men because they won’t sit down.”
The Suns have already had several injuries this season that have kept players off: Cameron Payne (right hamstring injury), Frank Kaminsky (knee), Abdelnader (knee), Dender Eaton (lower right leg), Landry Schammit (foot) and Booker.
Dario Sarek is expected to miss the entire regular season with a ruptured right anterior cruciate ligament in the first game of the finals.
Eaton missed Friday’s game with a non-COVID illness and was listed as suspect in Monday’s game as is Galen Smith for the same reason.
Despite the injuries, the Suns somehow achieved a record 18-game winning streak and went on to rack up wins.
“It just depends on the culture and the system,” said Booker, who leads Sanz with 23.2 points in a game this season and a career best 40.3% of 3.
“We’ve had guys in and out of the squad, dealing with illnesses and injuries. Just finding ways to win. That’s what we always talk about. We always have the mentality of the next guy. So I get out, somebody comes back and we keep the train moving.”
Booker was enjoying those rare moments on the court where he could be around his teammates at the shooting competitions and have those regular competitive chats.
“I’m never far from them,” Booker said. “If I’m not in the shooting game, I’m right behind them on the bench. I feel like I’m still a part of talking to them, but you never want to miss matches, especially the way we talk we play, the way we play, but we put some effort into that. The season is already up and it shows. I just want to make sure I’m 100% before I go back there.”
Last week, Booker was blasting off 3 at the training facility with an adoring audience watching every shot.
Fellow Suns All-Star Chris Paul brought his son and his son’s friends to practice, and at one point, they were sitting arm’s length from Booker getting the shots.
“May my son and his buddies have a chance to come here and see one of the best shooters in the world,” said Paul. “I always say the advantage is not being my son. The advantage is gaining experience and getting over it.”
Seated among the kids, Paul was doing the same follow up by releasing the kids showing how to shoot and how Booker was shooting.
“Just pay attention to detail,” Paul said, when asked what he hopes the kids get out of that experience.
As a child, Booker said he’s never had that chance to see an NBA player in that environment, but he loves giving today’s youth that experience.
Plus it made him really focus on his shot that day.
“I’m trying to be more locked into my form, to know the kids are watching,” Booker said with a smile. “I would say that’s all about it, man. Inspiring the next generation. Paving the way for them. I remember when I was that age. I wasn’t lucky enough to sit in an NBA training facility and watch the shooting, but I’ve watched a lot From YouTube videos and imagining myself there. I try to do whatever advice or whatever I can go through and tell them they can take it and bring it with their friends or bring it to their school.”
Do you have an opinion about the current position of the sun? Contact Suns Insider Duane Rankin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at Tweet embed.
Support the local press. Start your subscription online.