Josh Childress should rest his finger until healthy


The Phoenix Suns would be smart to rest Josh Childress until he's fully healthy. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

The Phoenix Suns would be smart to rest Josh Childress until he's fully healthy. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

When the Phoenix Suns signed Josh Childress, they envisioned him being a long, athletic defensive stopper as well as a ruthlessly efficient scorer.

Instead he’s barely hanging on to his rotation spot.

Childress was not signed to a five-year deal worth upward of $33 million to collect DNP-CDs like he did Friday against Minnesota or play single-figure minutes like he has in four of his past six. But with Hedo Turkoglu clearly better at the three than the four and the rest of the Suns’ wings playing so well, Childress has become the odd man for the time being.

So long as that’s the case he should stop pushing his fractured finger and rest until he’s completely healed.

The Arizona Republic reported Childress must don the splint he’s worn all season on his right index finger for at least another week or two because the bone has been healing slower than expected.

Suns trainer Aaron Nelson originally figured Childress’ finger would need to be immobilized for about six weeks when he injured it on Oct. 19 attempting a preseason dunk. Such a timetable would have taken him up to the beginning of December, but clearly his valiant efforts to play through the injury have negatively impacted the healing process.

With Robin Lopez back and Earl Clark even deserving a chance to get a bit of burn to go with all that depth on the wings, the Suns could do without Childress for a week or two. What they need is for Childress to return to full strength and become the player they thought they signed this offseason.

That’s not to say Childress has been bad by any stretch. He really hasn’t been, it’s just that Jared Dudley is playing at a high level now and Grant Hill and Jason Richardson have been bringing it all season.

Childress’ adjusted plus/minus ranks behind only Steve Nash’s on the Suns, while his unadjusted rating is a barely over a wash. The Suns are a couple points better defensively with Childress out there but a couple points worse offensively. His biggest impact comes on the offensive boards, as the Suns grab 40.2 percent of their available offensive rebounds with Childress on the floor but just 29.5 percent when he isn’t, and no guard in the league that’s played at least 15 games can match his 9.3 offensive rebound rate.

Childress’ PER is 14.00, which means he’s been only slightly worse than the average NBA player, but while the Stanford product has had his moments it’s safe to say the Suns expected more than 5.3 points and 3.0 boards per game from this investment.

Although Childress is shooting 57.0 percent, almost exactly what he shot in 2007-08 with Atlanta, the majority of those shots have come at the rim and his free-throw shooting is down from 80 percent his final season with the Hawks to 59.5 percent.

The injury has also robbed him of any chance of becoming a three-point shooter for the time being. After signing with the Suns, he spoke of adding the long ball to his arsenal as seemingly every Suns wing does, but Childress has attempted just four treys all season (all missses) whereas in the past he averaged at least one three-pointer per game.

At some point the Suns need to balance out their roster by dealing one of their wings for a power forward because such a deal would solve two major problems and make playing time decisions and rotational chemistry much easier to come by.

If (when?) that happens, the Suns will need Josh Childress at full strength if he’s not the guy dealt.

It’s too early to call Childress a free-agent bust because of his injury and the uphill battle he faces for minutes, but so long as he’s barely playing anyway the Suns would be wise to sit him until his finger heals.

Tags: Josh Childress