Phoenix Suns: Injury Updates for Cameron Payne and Deandre Ayton

Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton, Cameron Payne (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton, Cameron Payne (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

More trouble on the runway for the Phoenix Suns. While trying to get their 2021-22 season up and running, a few different things are still making takeoff difficult for the reigning Western Conference champs.

Phoenix’s excessive turnovers and lacking defense on the perimeter stand out at the most notable issues right now, but injuries to Deandre Ayton and Cameron Payne are also keeping the team grounded.

Only appearing during Phoenix’s first two games this year, Payne strained his hamstring before Phoenix’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers about a week and a half ago. Ayton however, finds himself as a more recent victim of the injury bug, suffering a leg contusion against the Cleveland Cavaliers just this past weekend.

As it stands now, both players are listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Houston Rockets.

Even though the Rockets entered the season unanimously viewed as a lottery-bound team, they showed some fight during their most recent matchup, pushing the Los Angeles Lakers all the way until the final buzzer. They might do the same against a Suns team still figuring things out—making returns for Ayton and Payne more important for this contest than one might initially think.

According to Monty Williams, both players practiced at some capacity today. Williams noted how neither Ayton nor Payne participated in five-on-five drills, but that Payne “did a bit more,” which makes him sound closer to a return than his teammate.

But with both guys staying away from live practice the day before a game, Payne and Ayton both missing the contest vs Houston feels like the most likely answer to the “will they play?” question. It makes zero sense to rush back important players this early during the season, let alone against a gritty, but still easily beatable Rockets team.

Instead, watch for the Suns to bring back either Payne and possibly Ayton against the Atlanta Hawks this Saturday. Atlanta embodies a far more talented team than Houston, applying a greater need for Payne and Ayton to return. The time between that game and their one against the Rockets also poises to offer them enough time to comfortably make their final steps in rehab to come back strong.

For now though, expect the Suns to stick with Elfrid Payton as their backup point guard, as well as the JaVale McGee and Frank Kaminsky duo to step up for Ayton.

Early Studs and Duds for the Phoenix Suns. dark. Next

During Phoenix’s comeback win over the Pelicans, both McGee and Kaminsky shined with 35 combined points. Payton also finished with a modest four assists, four rebounds, and a steal. As far as backups go, the Suns look well-equipped to hold their guys out for at least a few more days.