Phoenix Suns: Jae Crowder, Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee available Saturday vs. Heat after protocols

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  • Jae Crowder
    Jae Crowder
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • JaVale McGee
    JaVale McGee
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Deandre Ayton
    Deandre Ayton
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  • Monty Williams
    American basketball coach
  • Elfrid Payton
    Elfrid Payton
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|

Jae Crowder is trying to find the energy COVID-19 took out of him.

"I did a hard workout this morning around 8 o'clock, 8:30 (a.m.) and I feel completely fatigued," said Crowder Thursday afternoon. "Pretty tired right now."

The Suns starting power forward missed five games while in the NBA's health and safety protocols after testing positive for the virus and missed Thursday's win against the Los Angeles Clippers for "return to competition reconditioning."

Deandre Ayton, JaVale McGee and Crowder have cleared the NBA's COVID protocols, but all three sat out Thursday's Clippers game as they look to return to game shape.

More: 'It's crazy': Suns' Elfrid Payton details wild week in and out of NBA's COVID-19 protocols

Oct 20, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) during the pregame shoot-around before playing the Denver Nuggets at Footprint Center.
Oct 20, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) during the pregame shoot-around before playing the Denver Nuggets at Footprint Center.

"I'm trying to get my juice back to where I can handle workouts and sustain my energy," said Crowder, who went into protocols Dec. 26. "But right now, I'm just trying to work my way back to feeling the same way I did before the virus, but I feel like I'm working my way back slowly. I do feel fatigued right now after the workout."

Suns coach Monty Williams said Crowder, Ayton and McGee participated in practice Friday ahead of Saturday's matchup against Miami (24-15). All three are available to play for Phoenix (30-8).

"We didn't do a ton today, but those guys got a ton of cardio in," Williams said. "A lot of shooting and we'll see how they respond to today. They've gotten a lot of work in before and after practice. So we're just going to see how they respond to that."

Like Crowder, McGee is pushing himself in trying to get back in game shape.

"A lot of work," McGee said. "A lot of work. A lot of conditioning. A lot of lifting. Two-a-days. Before shootaround. Before the game. A lot of work."

Abdel Nader, who was already out with a knee injury, remained in protocols as of Friday as did Landry Shamet, who entered it the morning of Tuesday's win in New Orleans to end a three-game road trip.

Williams was in the health and safety protocols as the Suns went 2-2 with lead assistant Kevin Young as acting head coach.

Crowder said he received a call and text from Williams while watching a game.

"I'm glad to be out of quarantine," Crowder said. "That would just drive me crazy just watching the games. I'm glad the guys were able to finish the trip the right way."

Returning for Tuesday's game, Williams spoke on his symptoms from the virus that wiped him out for more than a minute.

"It wasn't like mild, but it wasn't so severe that I had to even think about going to the hospital, but it did knock me on my butt for a few days," Williams said. "That kind of surprised me 'cause I typically, when I have a bad flu, I've always been able to function and for about three or four days, man, I was just like, holy toast, this thing has really hit me in the head."

Crowder said he experienced similar symptoms.

"Some good days, some bad days," Crowder said. "It kills your energy level. I think that's the main thing I've taken from it. Just trying to get my juice back, trying to get my energy back to where it needs to be."

Nov 30, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) reacts after making a basket against the Golden State Warriors at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic
Nov 30, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) reacts after making a basket against the Golden State Warriors at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic

McGee described his quarantine as "extremely boring" and filled with sleep.

"I barely had symptoms," McGee said. "I had a cough one day, a headache the next day. Barely (had symptoms)."

For an NBA player to return from protocols, he must have two negative tests taken 24 hours apart or two tests with a CT count of 30 or more taken on days four and five after infection.

A high CT count indicates the person is no longer contagious.

Crowder found himself seeking the negative tests, but realized having those thoughts were draining him mentally.

"I just tried to take it one day at a time," he said. "Early in my quarantine, I was trying to look forward to the day I was going to test negative, but I just started to just try to make the days count. So I was trying to do little stuff in my backyard to keep my body where it needs to be, but I just started to just try to take it one day at time. When I started looking forward to days where I'm trying to test negative and stuff like that, it just got to be too much on me mentally. It started to be draining mentally."

Dec 10, 2021; Phoenix, AZ, United States; Suns' Landry Shamet (L-R), JaVale McGee, Cam Payne and Jae Crowder wait for the Celtics inbound during the second half at the Footprint Center.
Dec 10, 2021; Phoenix, AZ, United States; Suns' Landry Shamet (L-R), JaVale McGee, Cam Payne and Jae Crowder wait for the Celtics inbound during the second half at the Footprint Center.

Crowder thanked the players and coaching staff for keeping him "level headed" and "engaged" with the team.

Suns All-Star point guard Chris Paul said he talked with Crowder while he was out.

"I appreciate them for that," Crowder said. "My message to my teammates is if they ever have to quarantine is just try to take it one day at a time. Don't look too far ahead and just try to take it and get your mind and body where it needs to be."

Crowder and Elfrid Payton went into protocols the same day, but Payton didn't have any symptoms and ended up playing the next day against Memphis.

Payton was put back in protocols after an inconclusive test and missed the Oklahoma City game, but once again cleared protocols and traveled with the team to Boston for the three-game road trip. He didn't miss any of those games, either.

Kaminsky undergoes surgery: Suns backup big Frank Kaminsky III underwent a surgical procedure Thursday to "promote healing" to his right knee and will be re-evaluated in eight weeks.

Averaging 10.6 points in nine games this season, Kaminsky has missed the last 25 games with a right knee stress reaction while Dario Saric (knee) has been out all season after suffering a torn right ACL in Game 1 of the finals.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix Suns: Jae Crowder, Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee available Saturday vs. Heat after protocols

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