If the Phoenix Suns were going to return to action after the season was suspended on March 11 due to COVID-19, the biggest question was the status of forward Kelly Oubre Jr.
Oubre tore his right meniscus in late February and had successful surgery to repair it on March 3. He was to be re-evaluated in four weeks, but that was before the quarantine hit for coronavirus, and Oubre spent the majority of his rehab process isolated away from the medical staff at home.
So, even with the timeline of the Suns playing in Orlando starting at the beginning of August, a five-month recovery timeline for Oubre was still a little murky.
Suns owner Robert Sarver clarified that on Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo Thursday when asked if Oubre will play.
“Yes,” he said. “I expect he will play, yes.”
Oubre is one of the Suns’ best and most important players. He is second on the team in minutes per game (34.5), rebounds per game (6.4), and blocks per game (0.7). Oubre’s also third in points per game (18.7) and steals per game (1.3).
After signing a new two-year contract last offseason, the 2020-21 season is Oubre’s contract year, and an accelerated NBA timeline of the league ending the regular season in mid-August and returning in early December would be a good reason for Oubre to be cautious.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that the league will have all 22 teams in Orlando play eight games over 16 days, a high-paced schedule the Suns could be careful with for the minutes of players like Oubre, Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio.
With the Suns having five teams ahead of them for the two potential play-in spots after eight games, it wouldn’t be surprising for them to pull back on some players’ involvement, especially in the back-half of the schedule when they could already be eliminated.
Frank Kaminsky, who hasn’t played since Dec. 28 due to a right patella stress fracture, is also expected to be back for the Suns, per Sarver.