PHOENIX – There is optimism within the Phoenix Suns organization that Chris Paul, who has been out at the start of the Western Conference Finals due to the League’s health and safety protocols, could return for Game 3 on Thursday, sources told ESPN.
However, at the start of the second game on Tuesday, Paul had not yet been cleared, the sources said.
Tuesday marked the sixth day that Paul was isolated from the team due to the NBA’s coronavirus-related mandates. While a positive test required a player to be quarantined for a minimum of 10 to 14 days this season, the League has different standards for people vaccinated.
ESPN’s Matt Barnes, who appeared on The Jump last week, said Paul told him he had been vaccinated.
Paul is currently asymptomatic and spends his time away from the Suns in the Los Angeles area, a team source confirmed to ESPN.
Before being sidelined, Paul was sublime in the Suns’ sweep of the Denver Nuggets in the second round, averaging 25.5 points on 62.7% shooting while dishing 41 assists for just five turnovers in four games.
Suns coach Monty Williams was asked before Game 2 if Paul, who is officially on the day-to-day roster, would need some kind of acceleration in order to play once he’s cleared.
“We can’t afford to wait for anyone right now. These games are very important. Every practice, every filming session,” Williams said. “We would certainly see where he is when that time comes, but it’s hard to make that judgment just because COVID is so different. You have COVID and the Playoffs, you know what I mean? It’s not COVID and the regular season.
“I’m sure if I try to keep Chris out of the game, we would have to go head-to-head and head-to-head. So we’ll do that assessment when the time comes.”