Igor Kokoskov is being as cautious about Devin Booker’s status for Friday’s home game against Toronto as the Suns have been getting their franchise player back on the court.
“Questionable,” said the first-year NBA head coach, when asked after Thursday’s practice if Booker will return to action after missing the last three games with a strained hamstring suffered last week against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We’ll keep him questionable so we don’t promise he’s going to play and suddenly, he doesn’t. I’ll keep him questionable before the game tomorrow, shootaround. If he says, ‘Coach, I can go. I feel great.’ We’re waiting for him.”
During the media viewing of practice in which players are shooting at the end of it, Booker moved around without any hesitation. Kokoskov said it was a “non-contact” practice Thursday, but added the team anticipates Booker will be fine.
“He went through the whole practice like everyone else,” Kokoskov said.
This was after Suns interim general manager James Jones told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Wednesday that he expected Booker to return for Friday’s game.
Averaging 27.8 points a game, Booker came back from an injury to his right shooting hand that required surgery Sept. 10 to play in the opener in which he scored 35 points in Phoenix’s only win of the season.
He strained his hamstring in the second half on a drive against the Lakers. Phoenix (1-6) has lost its three games without him that includes a 30-point defeat Wednesday against San Antonio.
“It’s an injury I’ve never dealt with,” Booker said after Wednesday’s shootaround. “I heard it can linger so just being real precautious with it. It’s kind of like a pull. So, it can happen any second. So being able to regain that trust back with it is what I need.”
Josh Jackson has started in Booker’s place, but has scored a total of 22 points in those three games on 9 of 27 shooting. The fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft has missed all seven of his 3-point attempts during this stretch.
Kokoskov also said point guard Isaiah Canaan is feeling “better” after straining his left ankle in Sunday’s loss at Oklahoma City and said there’s a good chance he’ll return Friday against the Raptors (7-1) after missing Wednesday’s game.
“I’d also keep him at questionable, but there’s a good chance he’ll play tomorrow,” Kokoskov said.
Averaging 7.5 points, Canaan started Phoenix’s first six games before the injury. Rookie Elie Okobo started in his place against the Spurs.
In his first start, Okobo finished with eight points on 3 of 9 shooting.
Kokoskov said T.J. Warren will likely get his second start this season Friday.
“It’s communication with the players and also fitting in the game plan,” Kokoskov said. “Tomorrow’s a good chance for him to start considering Toronto is playing small ball. Small lineup. Do a lot of drive and kick basketball.”
Warren averaged 19.6 points last season, started all 65 games he played, but came off bench in Phoenix’s first six games this season.
Ryan Anderson, who Phoenix acquired in an offseason trade with Houston, started at one of the forward spots. He’s averaging 6.3 points a game this season.
Kokoskov said Toronto’s second unit may be bigger than its first, thus making more sense to have Anderson come off the bench to match that.
Warren is 6-8, 215 pounds while Anderson is two inches taller and 25 pounds heavier than him.
“All these options are open,” Kokoskov said.
Kokoskov is also taking into account how the Raptors may use Serge Ibaka.
“Played power forward all his life and now he’s a five-man in this league in this modern era of basketball,” Kokoskov said. “We’re open for all those options.”
This season, Warren is 16 points shooting 51.2 percent from the field after scoring a game-high 21 on 8 of 16 shooting against the Spurs.
Warren has made 12 of 25 shots (48 percent) from 3 this season. He only knocked down 20 3-pointers last season in shooting 22.2 percent from long range.
Raptors at Suns
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena
TV: FOX Sports Arizona