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After cut from France National Team, Elie Okobo now has to fight for NBA life

Suns point guard Elie Okobo is one of four young point guards fighting for likely two roster spots in Phoenix.

NBA: Summer League-China National Team at Phoenix Suns Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns only had a few players participating in FIBA World Cup for their home countries, and now that short list is reduced by one.

Second year point guard Elie Okobo was cut from Team France yesterday after being unable to grab a role as the third point guard.

Okobo was beaten out by long-term Euro standout Nando de Colo to back up the other point guards: Frank Ntilikina (Knicks) and Andrew Albicy. Ntilikina, who just turned 21 years old, is about to enter his third year in the NBA. Albicy is a 29-year old point guard who has played 12 seasons of European ball with averages of 8.7 points, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals. France has Evan Fournier at shooting guard, and de Colo backing up that position as well.

Okobo will now be free to return to the US to get acclimated to a new Suns team for whom he is one of only four returning players this year, including a pair of his fellow 2018 draft picks. Okobo and the Suns will likely begin congregating in Phoenix for voluntary pickup games in the next couple of weeks, giving them a chance to gel before training camp officially opens on October 1, 2019.

Still participating in the FIBA World Cup are Ricky Rubio (Spain) and Aron Baynes (Australia), whose teams are both favored to reach the medal round which will keep them busy right up to training camp.

Okobo — who started 16 games last year, averaging just 5.7 points on 39 percent shooting with 2.4 assists in 53 total appearances — will get one more chance to earn a spot in the Suns rotation. Elie never cemented a spot in last year’s rotation, despite his competition consisting only of Isaiah Canaan and fellow rookie De’Anthony Melton.

Now Okobo is fighting for a roster spot with the 2019-20 Suns. He can use this next month to prove he is more deserving than rookies Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, two-way player Jared Harper, and second-year guard Jevon Carter, who was taken immediately after Okobo in the 2018 draft.

The Suns primary playmakers next year will Rubio, followed by combo guards Devin Booker and Tyler Johnson, so there aren’t many playing opportunities anyway, barring injuries.

Okobo, Carter, Lecque and Jerome will be fighting for probably only two spots on the final 15-man roster. Harper is currently under a two-way contract and not a part of the 15-man roster. Money won’t be a consideration because the other four are under guaranteed minimum-salary contracts, and only Jerome has a second year guaranteed as part of his rookie contract.

If Okobo wants to extend his Suns career, it might be in his best interest to get back to the US as soon as possible, before Rubio, Booker and Johnson take all the playmaking minutes away.

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