PHOENIX — The possibilities of injured Phoenix Suns forwards Grant Hill and Channing Frye playing in Tuesday’s must-win game against the Utah Jazz remain uncertain.
Hill is still on the rebound from his knee surgery that kept him out for two weeks, and the 39-year-old will again be a gametime decision following his pre-game warm-up routine.
Meanwhile, Channing Frye’s availability remains up in the air after suffering a subluxed right shoulder that occurred during Saturday’s 118-107 loss against Denver.
Complicating matters was the news that Frye’s wife went into labor early Monday morning. The power forward was still with his family at the hospital as his teammates boarded the bus to the airport, and if he does intend to play, he would likely not fly into Salt Lake City until tomorrow, head coach Alvin Gentry said.
As for his shoulder, Frye has been undergoing rehabilitation exercises with the Suns’ training staff, and while he has made progress, there’s still little known about whether he’ll be ready to go against the Jazz.
“I don’t know enough about (the injury) to tell you exactly how it is. I think (rehab has) been OK,” Gentry said. “He’s made some progress, but who knows? He’s still going to have to be able to get his shoulder up above his head to shoot the basketball.
“That’s one of those deals, in the next 36 hours we’ll have a better feeling what it is.”
If both Frye and Hill are scratches for the Jazz game, the pressure mounts for the Suns, who need any and all contributors they can get.
In matching up against Utah’s large frontline that sometimes goes with Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors and Paul Millsap on the court at the same time, Frye’s absence could be especially hurtful. A match-up burden for Millsap, he recorded his season high of 26 points against the Jazz on March 14 while going 5-of-10 from behind the three-point line.
“Part of our strength is all our different guys pitch in a little bit,” Steve Nash said. “He spaces the floor for us, and gives us some size, but whatever we throw out there we got to find a way to fight, scrap and claw, get it done.”
Gentry said that his coaching staff haven’t yet discussed how the rotations will work — does Markieff Morris move into the starting lineup, or does Hakim Warrick start to keep the second unit together? — if Frye is indeed sitting this one out.
Warrick put in seven points and grabbed four rebounds in 19 minutes after Frye’s injury against the Nuggets.
“I think that (Warrick) played well,” Gentry said. “You sit over there for 12, 14 games, your timing is going to be a little bit off. I thought he did a good job for us. Got in, posted up a couple times, got to the foul line, did a good job there.”
Nash didn’t flinch when asked Monday if the potential loss of Hill and Frye would be distracting considering how many things are now up in the air for the Suns’ most important game of the year. And by the way, it’s one that Gentry finally admitted — math gives him no choice — as being a “must-win.”
“The whole season’s been up in the air for this team,” the two-time MVP said. “We lost our first game and we’ve been fighting ever since to get back in position to make the playoffs, and here we are with two games left with a chance to win both and go to the playoffs.”