The Phoenix Suns, the team with the best record in the NBA this season at 48-10, will be navigating the next 6 to 8 weeks without their All Star point guard. Chris Paul jammed his thumb in a contest against the Houston Rockets, and it appears that the damage will take quite some time to heal.
Phoenix Suns say Chris Paul suffered a right thumb avulsion fracture and will be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) February 21, 2022
The diagnosis? A right thumb avulsion fracture.
The injury didn’t look good, as most injuries don’t, when Chris Paul threw a fastball with the intent of connecting with Deandre Ayton in the paint on February 16. The Suns found themselves in a dog fight against the Houston Rockets and with 9:15 left to go in the third quarter, Paul was once again attempting to lead his team to victory.
When he threw that pass to Ayton, his right hand connected with Jae’Sean Tate’s forearm. He instantly grimaced in pain and clutched his phalange, followed by a few choice words for official JT Orr. His reaction earned in ejection. But the focus quickly turned from an early exit to the possibility of an injured point guard.
The following day Chris Paul would board a plane destined for Los Angeles, California where he would receive an MRI on his hampered right hand. Those results would dictate the length of recovery, which became public today.
Chris Paul is no stranger to wrist and hand injuries. Who could forget Game 4 of the 2016 Western Conference First Round when Chris Paul fractured his hand against the Portland Trail Blazers? The injury cost him his playoffs on a very talented Clippers team.
In January of 2017, while playing in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Paul sprained his left thumb during the game. It would be revealed that he tore a ligament in the hand and he would miss the next 14 games for the Los Angeles Clippers.
A hurt hand is not a new scenario for the 36 year-old Point God. He will once again be cheering for his team from the sidelines, hoping that they can keep the ship that he has captained headed in the right direction.
Reigning Executive of the Year James Jones is now presented with a multitude of decisions.
He fortified the Suns back court when he traded the Washington Wizards for guard Aaron Holiday at the deadline. He did this for obvious reasons. The injuries to the back court have been piling up. Cameron Payne has missed the last 12 games with a wrist injury. Landry Shamet has not seen the court since January 30 when he sprained his ankle.
Will the addition of Aaron Holiday be enough? One aspect of this Phoenix team, their depth, will once again be tested this season with the news of Chris Paul being out for an extended period of time.
The buy-out market possibilities now become much more interesting conversation.
Players who wants may have scoffed at the idea of joining the Suns due to lack of available playing time may reconsider joining the reigning Western Conference champions. Playing time will be available.
The question now becomes who is available and willing to assist this team? Do names like Eric Gordon or Goran Dragic carry more weight given the situation in Phoenix?
Devin Booker will surely benefit from Chris Paul’s absence. He’s a player who is seeking his first All-NBA selection and has had his name mentioned briefly in MVP conversations. One of the arguments against Booker for MVP — and CP3 for that matter — has been that they have been cannibalizing each other when it comes to the MVP conversation.
With Paul out for a prolonged period of time, the opportunity for Booker now arises. Can he continue to lead the Phoenix Suns to a league best record, surviving this injury, and excelling in Chris Paul’s absence? If so, the murmurs may begin to arise relative to his candidacy for the award.
Is it worst case scenario? No. Chris Paul will play once again this season for Phoenix. Yes, it will be quite some time until we see the point guard lead the Suns to a victory. Yes, it will create opportunity for his teammates that may ultimately benefit the team in the postseason.
This time will do one thing that a healthy Chris Paul would never allow: rest. And plenty of it. This is “Bright Side”, so in the face of this news, I will choose to do just that: look at the bright side.