Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker underwent hand surgery earlier this offseason, which was expected to set him back approximately six weeks.
Booker, 21, had the operation to repair the fifth metacarpophalangeal joint in his right hand.
The procedure was completed on September 10, which would give him a timeline to return on October 22. That’s about a week after Phoenix is set to open the season against the Dallas Mavericks. But the 2015 NBA draft first-round pick told ESPN’s The Undefeated that he would like to play against the Mavericks.
Phoenix was expected to play Booker down a position at point guard this season. After losing Eric Bledsoe as well as Brandon Knight and Tyler Ulis since last season, the Suns are suddenly thin at the one. Booker would play a similar role to Houston’s James Harden as a ball-dominant shooter carrying the offense for his team.
But if Booker is not ready to start the season, the starting lineup on opening night looks murky. Phoenix has a rookie guard tandem of De’Anthony Melton and Elie Okobo who could earn both some playing time at point guard.
Melton, overall, might be the most promising option. The second-round pick is a defensive specialist with some offensive upside, although the guard has recorded just one assist in thirty minutes on the court so far in preseason.
Distribution was not his strong suit during summer league, where he was an otherwise very impressive player. Melton averaged 19.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.6 steals per 36 minutes playing for Houston in Las Vegas. But his 4.8 assists per 36 was unfortunately not much to write home about for a potential starting point guard.
They could also offer the spot to 27-year-old Isaiah Canaan, a veteran who is returning from a brutal injury last year. Otherwise, former G League call-up Shaquille Harrison showed some promise in a limited sample size for the Suns.
Alternatively, the front office could make a trade for a more viable longterm solution. We’ve written at length about why Minnesota’s Tyus Jones would make sense for the organization and Miami’s Goran Dragic has ties to the team and its head coach Igor Kokoskov.
But without a general manager in the fold, it’s unlikely they make a splash until they make a new hire. And with Booker targeting a return for opening night, perhaps they just see what they have with Melton, Okobo, Canaan and Harrison until their star guard returns.