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Suns to add Justin Jackson, Paris Bass on hardship deals

The Phoenix Suns now have four hardship players.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Per reports, the Phoenix Suns will have three more players on hardship deals for today’s game against the Boston Celtics.

Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Suns had placed center Deandre Ayton and forward Jae Crowder into “health and safety protocols” for COVID, and they signed 6’9” forward Emanuel Terry — who had been in the G-League — on a hardship deal. Terry did not play on Wednesday, but was active.

Just before Wednesday’s game, the Suns added already-injured Abdel Nader to the list, triggering a requirement to add a second hardship player, per NBA rules. Early Thursday, they added guard MJ Walker.

Later Thursday, the Suns added JaVale McGee to the H/S list, making it four Suns in protocols. A vaccinated player in protocols must be out for at least six days unless they test negative more than once beforehand (like Elfrid Payton had).

If you’re keeping count, that’s four Suns in protocols and two replacement players.

New league rules require NBA teams to replace all H/S players with hardship replacements, allowing at most a one-player deficit. That meant the Suns had to sign 1-2 replacement players right away.

Apparently, they signed two more late Thursday. Both are already in Boston and will be able to suit up for today’s game.

The only name you recognize might be Justin Jackson, a former first round pick who flamed out of the league recently.

Jackson was the 15th pick in the 2017 Draft. He has career averages of 6.6 points in 19 minutes per game for three NBA teams (Kings, Mavericks, Thunder) but was unsigned this year until these hardship deals hit. Jackson just finished a 10-day hardship deal with Boston, appearing in one game

With all the Suns big men out except Jalen Smith, my guess is Emanuel Terry has the best chance of seeing the floor today, unless two-way player Ish Wainright is cleared (lower back soreness). The Suns have to play someone behind Jalen Smith, after all.

The other three would only play if the Suns lose several more players to COVID quarantines.

Acting head coach Kevin Young (with Monty Williams in protocols too!) has his work cut out for him.

Teams across the league have now added more than 100 hardship players over the last two weeks, replacing about 25% of the league.

With the rampant outbreak across the country coupled with daily NBA testing once a single player gets it, there’s a lot of hardship going on right now.