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Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) argues a call during the first half in Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday, May 27, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) argues a call during the first half in Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday, May 27, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Marcio Jose Sanchez, APFullscreenChris Paul
Chris Paul Phoenix SunsFullscreenChris Paul has 34 assists to just three turnovers in the series against the Nuggets.
Chris Paul has 34 assists to just three turnovers in the series against the Nuggets. Dustin Bradford, Getty ImagesFullscreenPhoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) controls the ball against Denver Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo,
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) controls the ball against Denver Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo, Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenSecond round: Suns guard Chris Paul directs the offense during the second half of Game 2 against the Nuggets.
Second round: Suns guard Chris Paul directs the offense during the second half of Game 2 against the Nuggets. Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenPhoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul is greeted by fans at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after sweeping the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 13, 2021.
Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul is greeted by fans at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after sweeping the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 13, 2021. Joseph Cooke/The RepublicFullscreenPhoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, left, shoots for a basket as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic defends in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, left, shoots for a basket as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic defends in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) The Associated PressFullscreenPhoenix Suns guard Chris Paul falls on the floor while pursuing a loose ball in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series agtainst the Denver Nuggets Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul falls on the floor while pursuing a loose ball in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series agtainst the Denver Nuggets Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) The Associated PressFullscreenPhoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, left, shoots for a basket as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic defends in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, left, shoots for a basket as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic defends in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) David Zalubowski, APFullscreenPhoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, center, drives to the rim between Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, and forward Will Barton in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski).
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, center, drives to the rim between Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, and forward Will Barton in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski). David Zalubowski, APFullscreenPhoenix Suns guard Chris Paul drives as Denver Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo is slowed by screen by Suns forward Dario Saric during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul drives as Denver Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo is slowed by screen by Suns forward Dario Saric during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) David Zalubowski, APFullscreenPhoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, right, talks with Suns guard Cameron Payne, left, during the first half of Game 2 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, right, talks with Suns guard Cameron Payne, left, during the first half of Game 2 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Ross D. Franklin, APFullscreenSecond round: The Phoenix Suns' Chris Paul drives to the basket against the Denver Nuggets in the second half of Game 1 at Phoenix Suns Arena on June 7. The Suns won the game, 122-105.
Second round: The Phoenix Suns' Chris Paul drives to the basket against the Denver Nuggets in the second half of Game 1 at Phoenix Suns Arena on June 7. The Suns won the game, 122-105. Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenDENVER, CO - JUNE 11:  Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns looks on in the first half of Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns looks on in the first half of Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Dustin Bradford, Getty ImagesFullscreenJun 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) and guard Chris Paul (3) react after the game six against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) and guard Chris Paul (3) react after the game six against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Kirby Lee, Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsFullscreenPhoenix Suns guard Chris Paul warms up prior to Game 1 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul warms up prior to Game 1 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Ross D. Franklin, APFullscreenPhoenix Suns guard Chris Paul reacts after suffering an injury against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half during game one in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Phoenix Suns Arena.
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul reacts after suffering an injury against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half during game one in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mark J. Rebilas, Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsFullscreenChris Paul
Chris Paul Chris PaulFullscreenMay 7, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) against the New York Knicks in the first half at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic
May 7, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) against the New York Knicks in the first half at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic Rob Schumacher/The RepublicFullscreenPhoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) is greeted by teammate forward Mikal Bridges (25) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York).
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) is greeted by teammate forward Mikal Bridges (25) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York). Matt York, APFullscreenApr 25, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) warms up prior to the start of the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 25, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) warms up prior to the start of the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports Wendell Cruz, Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsFullscreenPhoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) reacts to a foul call during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors Friday, March 26, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) reacts to a foul call during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors Friday, March 26, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Chris O'Meara, APFullscreenPhoenix Suns All-Star point guard Chris Paul is featured in the documentary , 'The Day Sports Stood Still
Phoenix Suns All-Star point guard Chris Paul is featured in the documentary , 'The Day Sports Stood Still" about how March 11 changed everything amid COVID-19 pandemic. Paul is an executive producer of the documentary set to debut March 24 on HBO. HBOFullscreenChris Paul showing his support for historically Black colleges and universities after a Jan. 23 overtime loss to Denver at Phoenix Suns Arena.
Chris Paul showing his support for historically Black colleges and universities after a Jan. 23 overtime loss to Denver at Phoenix Suns Arena. Duane Rankin/AZ CentralFullscreenPhoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) drives to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert).
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) drives to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert). Gerald Herbert, APFullscreen

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    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) argues a call during the first half in Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday, May 27, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)1 of 25
    • div">>Chris Paul2 of 25
    • div">>Chris Paul has 34 assists to just three turnovers in the series against the Nuggets.3 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) controls the ball against Denver Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo,4 of 25
    • div">>Second round: Suns guard Chris Paul directs the offense during the second half of Game 2 against the Nuggets.5 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul is greeted by fans at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after sweeping the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 13, 2021.6 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, left, shoots for a basket as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic defends in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)7 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul falls on the floor while pursuing a loose ball in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series agtainst the Denver Nuggets Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)8 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, left, shoots for a basket as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic defends in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)9 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, center, drives to the rim between Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, and forward Will Barton in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski).10 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul drives as Denver Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo is slowed by screen by Suns forward Dario Saric during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)11 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, right, talks with Suns guard Cameron Payne, left, during the first half of Game 2 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)12 of 25
    • div">>Second round: The Phoenix Suns' Chris Paul drives to the basket against the Denver Nuggets in the second half of Game 1 at Phoenix Suns Arena on June 7. The Suns won the game, 122-105.13 of 25
    • div">>DENVER, CO - JUNE 11:  Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns looks on in the first half of Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)14 of 25
    • div">>Jun 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) and guard Chris Paul (3) react after the game six against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports15 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul warms up prior to Game 1 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)16 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul reacts after suffering an injury against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half during game one in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Phoenix Suns Arena.17 of 25
    • div">>Chris Paul18 of 25
    • div">>May 7, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) against the New York Knicks in the first half at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic19 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) is greeted by teammate forward Mikal Bridges (25) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York).20 of 25
    • div">>Apr 25, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) warms up prior to the start of the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports21 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) reacts to a foul call during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors Friday, March 26, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)22 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns All-Star point guard Chris Paul is featured in the documentary , 'The Day Sports Stood Still23 of 25
    • div">>Chris Paul showing his support for historically Black colleges and universities after a Jan. 23 overtime loss to Denver at Phoenix Suns Arena.24 of 25
    • div">>Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) drives to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert).25 of 25
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    The second-seeded Suns will open their first Western Conference finals since 2010 against the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers, who won four consecutive games to eliminate the top-seeded Utah Jazz in the conference semifinals.

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    Ten-time All-NBA selection Chris Paul hasn't rejoined the Phoenix Suns after being placed under the NBA's health and safety protocols earlier this week, head coach Monty Williams confirmed after Friday's practice.

    So that leaves the second-seeded Suns still preparing to begin the Western Conference finals without their All-Star point guard as they will open Sunday against the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns Arena.

    "It's next man up," Suns wing Mikal Bridges said. "Everybody is ready to play." 

    The Clippers won four straight games to eliminate the top-seeded Utah Jazz in Friday's 131- Game 6 victory without first-team All-NBA selection Kawhi Leonard at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

    Second-year player Terance Mann, starting in place of Leonard, scored a career-high 39 points as the Clippers came back from 25 points down to stun the Jazz to reach the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.  

    The conference finals would've started Tuesday had Utah won Friday. It'll instead begin Sunday in Phoenix as the Suns will give an official update on Paul's status Saturday, the team announced Tuesday.

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    Cameron Payne is literally the next man up for Phoenix as he is Paul's backup at point guard.

    "I'm just getting ready like any other series," said Payne, who is averaging 10.2 points in 10 playoff games this season. "Just being ready to play when my name's called. If I get an opportunity, I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I'm ready."  

    img itemprop="url" src="https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2021/06/12/PPHX/3efc5319-04dc-48af-ad4c-c29dc175f31b-AP21146311413086.jpg?width=540&height=&fit=bounds&auto=webp" alt="Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, right, talks with Suns guard Cameron Payne, left, during the first half of Game 2 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)" width="540" data-mycapture-src="" data-mycapture-sm-src=""">>

    Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, right, talks with Suns guard Cameron Payne, left, during the first half of Game 2 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (Photo: Ross D. Franklin, AP)

    The NBA and National Basketball Players Association released their weekly joint statement on COVID-19 testing results Wednesday, saying "of the 164 players tested for COVID-19 since June 9, one new player has returned a confirmed positive test."

    Players haven't been named since NBA started testing last year entering the Orlando bubble to resume the 2019-20 season, but Phoenix is the only team to announce a player has been placed under health and safety protocols since June 9.

    While Paul hasn't publicly said he's vaccinated and hasn't been made available to talk since Phoenix completed its sweep of the Denver Nuggets in Sunday's Game 4 road win, ESPN analyst Jalen Rose said Wednesday the 16-year veteran is vaccinated.

    All these circumstances aside, Phoenix may have to start the conference finals without Paul, who was dominant in the conference semifinals in averaging 25.5 points on 61.8% shooting (6-of-8 from 3) and 10.3 assists to 1.3 turnovers.

    img itemprop="url" src="https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2021/06/14/PPHX/b5a73313-1d92-47f2-aa7b-a1a0bbf04c4c-USATSI_16251809.jpg?width=540&height=&fit=bounds&auto=webp" alt="Jun 13, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets during game four in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports" width="540" data-mycapture-src="" data-mycapture-sm-src=""">>

    Jun 13, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets during game four in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Photo: Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

    "I just felt bad for him," said Bridges when asked his emotional reaction to Paul going under the health and safety protocols. "All the years in the playoffs. Even early on with the (Los Angeles) Lakers and the shoulder. Just another thing I know that's just tough on him. I feel bad for C." 

    Paul, who has had history of setbacks in the postseason, suffered a right shoulder injury in Game 1 of the first round against the defending NBA champion Lakers, leaving him limited the first three games of the series. 

    The Suns lost Game 2 and 3 of that series with Paul far from being himself, but the experience could prove valuable if they start the conference finals without him.

    "I think having gone through it right out the gate in Game 1, we've already been in this situation," Williams said. "The other benefit is having the time off to regroup and talk about what may happen, what may not happen. We still don't know, but we have a chance to plan both ways. Our team has dealt with it not only in the regular season, but in the playoffs, which is a lot tougher because every possession of the game, the stakes are so much higher. So I think it is an advantage for us and for our team to have dealt with different obstacles over the course of the playoffs."

    img itemprop="url" src="https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2021/05/23/PPHX/839506c9-800e-4fe5-997f-5f870c2b080b-AP21143733175544.jpg?width=540&height=&fit=bounds&auto=webp" alt="An injured Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul grimaces in pain during the first half of Game 1 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)." width="540" data-mycapture-src="" data-mycapture-sm-src=""">>

    An injured Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul grimaces in pain during the first half of Game 1 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin). (Photo: Ross D. Franklin, AP)

    Paul bounced back from not only the initial injury in Game 1 versus the Lakers, but a shoulder scare in Game 5 of the first round before having his way with Denver.

    He capped the series with 37-point performance in Sunday's win with 25 coming in the second half on 10-of-12 after the break.

    Paul made nine consecutive shots at one point in the closeout victory.

    So Phoenix may have to begin its first conference finals series since 2010, which was the last time it made the playoffs, without their leader.

    The next man up is Payne, who averaged 15.7 points and 4.5 assists during a four-game stretch in the first round, but he may not be the only one to have his name called if Paul is out to start the conference finals.

    "Gave me a little space."

    Spurs rookie Tre Jones was there, contested the shot, but E'Twaun Moore still delivered a game-winning 3 with 2.2 seconds in #Suns 123-121 victory Sunday to end the regular season on a three-game winning streak. pic.twitter.com/PUl8BgSAcM

    — Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) May 17, 2021

    Williams mentioned veteran E'Twuan Moore when discussing the idea of not having Paul. The combo guard averaged just 4.9 points in his first season in Phoenix in just 27 games, played in just three postseason games, but is considered a "pro's pro," meaning he's always ready to play as was the case in the season finale at San Antonio.

    With Paul and Booker sitting out due to rest, Moore scored 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting as he hit the game-winning 3 in a 123-121 victory over the Spurs.

    "The value is indescribable to have a guy, not only the production on the floor, the steadiness on the floor, but the way he carries himself when he's not playing," Williams said. "If we're in a situation where Chris can't play, we feel comfortable with putting E'Twaun out there on the floor." 

    Payne said Moore put in work during Friday practice that included a scrimmage. 

    "He stays ready," Payne said about Moore, who is in his 10th NBA season. "We actually just played out there today and he was killing us today. It's just cool to have a vet out here that's been through it, seen it and still currently doing it at a high level." 

    Williams still has the option to play Booker at point guard, Payne at the two as he's a streaky scorer, but also mentioned Jevon Carter, who like Moore has seen limited action in the postseason.

    Carter averaged 4.7 points in 60 regular-season games , but shot 37.9% from 3 in his second season with the Suns. 

    img itemprop="url" src="https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2021/06/04/PPHX/d884eb8f-fdaf-46f7-81c0-40a51395f695-1b9ad6a105e24c04b661287da685103f.jpg?width=540&height=&fit=bounds&auto=webp" alt="Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) and guard Jevon Carter (4) celebrate after winning 113-100 over the Los Angeles Lakers of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. The Suns won the series 4-2 and will move on to round 2. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)" width="540" data-mycapture-src="" data-mycapture-sm-src=""">>

    Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) and guard Jevon Carter (4) celebrate after winning 113-100 over the Los Angeles Lakers of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. The Suns won the series 4-2 and will move on to round 2. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) (Photo: Ashley Landis, AP)

    Williams addresses West Valley shootings

    Williams felt he couldn't end his Zoom media call Friday without sending prayers and condolences from himself and the Suns organization in regards to the multiple shootings in the West Valley that left one dead and 12 injured Thursday.

    "That kind of violence is senseless and even though we're in the playoffs and we want to win so badly, when I read about that yesterday, I felt so badly for the families whose lives were changed in an instance," Williams said. "As badly as we want to win, as an organization, as a man, I can't sit there and do media and not take a second to wish those families peace and comfort during such a tough time."

    According to Peoria police, an unidentified man, in a 90-minute time frame, hit eight different sites across Glendale, Peoria and Surprise, as well as on Valley freeways, in a drive-by style shooting.

    A man has since been arrested, police said.

    Of the 13 adult victims, four were shot with one later found dead from gunshot wounds in a vehicle pulled over on Loop 101 and Thunderbird Road, police said.

    The person is believed to also be a victim of the shooter.

    Williams, who lost his wife, Ingrid, in a car accident in 2016, has full sympathy for the families and loved ones impacted by the shooting.

    "When you've been there, and your life is changed that quickly, it's hard," Williams said. "So I want those families to know that the Suns are praying for them, our thoughts are with them. If we can do anything to be a benefit to them, we'll do what we can." 

    "As badly as we want to win, as an organization, as a man, I can't sit here and do media and not take a second to wish those families peace and comfort during such a tough time." #Suns coach Monty Williams on multiple shooting in the West Valley that left one dead, 12 injured. https://t.co/hZwetCdu5ypic.twitter.com/HwQb6a0jbE

    — Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) June 18, 2021

    'Nobody should be fighting in the stands, man' 

    Payne recalls seeing the commotion near the end of Game 3 in Denver that ended up being Suns fan Nick McKellar exchanging blows with a Nuggets fan in the stands at Ball Arena.

    "It kind of happened during the game and we saw it because it was a dead ball," Payne said. "And we really didn't know what was going on. In the locker room, we saw what happened. It was kind of crazy."

    What has transpired since is McKellar becoming famous as Booker sought him out with a tweet. Booker's CAA representatives later tracked down McKellar, who will receive tickets to a game in the Western Conference finals and an autographed Booker jersey.

    "Nobody should be fighting in the stands."

    Cameron Payne on #Suns fan Nick McKellar fight in Game 3 in Denver.

    Devin Booker reached out as McKellar will get WCF tickets, autographed jersey.

    "It was Suns fan so we support him, but we've got to be mindful of things like that." pic.twitter.com/GethcNmawX

    — Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) June 18, 2021

    Payne thought it was cool Booker reached out to the fan, who lives in Denver, but isn't a fan of fisticuffs at games.

    "Nobody should be fighting in the stands, man," Payne said. "It's crazy, but you know, it was a Suns fan so we support him, but we've got to be mindful of things like that. Everybody just needs to come to watch the game and have fun at the games. That's what it's about, but I hear he's coming to the game. That's cool. I'm glad Book reached out, but everybody needs to just have fun at the games, man. We're out there having fun. So they should, too." 

    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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    Source : https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2021/06/18/suns-prepare-conference-finals-minus-chris-paul-who-still-under-health-and-safety-protocols/7748054002/

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    Next man up: Phoenix Suns preparing for conference finals without Chris Paul, who remains under health and safety protocols

    Source:USA Today

    Next man up: Phoenix Suns preparing for conference finals without Chris Paul, who remains under health and safety protocols

    Devin Booker rewards Phoenix Suns fan involved in altercation with Nuggets fans in Denver

    Source:ESPN

    Devin Booker rewards Phoenix Suns fan involved in altercation with Nuggets fans in Denver

    Phoenix Suns Chris Paul out indefinitely, placed in NBA health and safety protocols

    Source:ESPN

    Phoenix Suns Chris Paul out indefinitely, placed in NBA health and safety protocols