The Phoenix Suns will likely start training camp without Devin Booker, whose injured hand is inflamed and may require surgery, a source close the Republic reports.
Booker, the Suns’ leading scorer and highest paid player, was bothered by the right-hand injury throughout the closing months of last season, missing the last 12 games.
At the time, Booker and the Suns took criticism, with some suggesting it was a tactic to improve the team’s position in the draft.
“Everyone thinks I’m faking it. They think we’re trying to tank but that’s not the case,” Booker said last March. “I always pride myself on playing and playing through injuries.”
The severity of the injury and how long it will keep Booker, 21, off the court is still unclear. However, the timing of the news suggests that the team wants to get the procedure out of the way before the start of the 2018 season.
The Suns begin training camp in Flagstaff on Sept. 25.
Booker signed a 5-year, $158-million contract extension in July. He averaged 24.9 points and 4.7 assists last season, shooting 38 percent from 3-point range. He also took home the 3-point contest crown during NBA All-Star weekend.
The Suns open the regular season on Oct. 17 against the Dallas Mavericks at Talking Stick Resort Arena.