NBA Basketball

Suns' Booker takes first steps toward recovery

PHOENIX — Devin Booker is able to walk, albeit slowly.

That’s a major step in recovery from a left adductor strain that the Phoenix Suns‘ star guard suffered in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in Toronto. Booker was carried off the floor by teammates. He was on crutches the next day and then was moved onto the team plane in a wheelchair.

Booker’s timetable for recovery remains at two to three weeks. He moved about dressed in a suit and smiled while answering questions about his injury.

“I’m already walking. Every day it’s felt better since it happened,” Booker said Thursday night before the Suns’ home game against the Washington Wizards. “I’m on the right path.”

When he was injured, Booker thought it was a cramp, at first; but when he tried to move, he could not.

“People said I was doing the ‘Mannequin Challenge,'” Booker said. “I don’t ever want to be carried off the court. Anything in my power, if I could have walked off I would have walked off. We had to resume the game, so my big fellas helped me out.”

Booker is averaging 24.3 points and has 10 30-point games this season.

Booker spent Thursday on the bench supporting his teammates. He admitted being out for an extended period of time will be difficult; and he pledged not to try to come back too soon and promised to tell trainers the truth about how he feels.

The injury is new territory for Booker, the face of the Suns in his third season. He has played through pain before, but he said he had never felt such pain before Tuesday night.

“It’s never ideal for me to miss games,” Booker said, “but at the same time, we have to be cautious with it and take our time.”

The Suns were short-handed against the Wizards with Booker out and center Tyson Chandler away from the team for personal reasons. Forward Derrick Jones Jr. was waived Thursday.

Rookie Josh Jackson started in Booker’s place at shooting guard, and Phoenix coach Jay Triano said there will be other lineup combinations over the next 10 games.

“He’s a voice for us anyway,” Triano said of Booker. “He’s been a leader. Even more when you stay in the game mentally, when you’re not playing, thinking the game, seeing the game and being a part of it. It helps when you return.”

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