Phoenix Suns reserve big Frank Kaminsky participates in voluntary workouts at Arizona Veteran Memorial Coliseum.
Frank Kaminsky III finished working up a good sweat in a voluntary workout Thursday morning at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Phoenix Suns have been having these workouts filled with safety guidelines amid COVID-19, which has kept the 2019-20 NBA season on hold since March 11 after Utah Jazz all-star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus.
“Just being able to get back and get comfortable and start to get into a rhythm of everything, it’s really beneficial,” said Kaminsky, who missed Phoenix’s last 33 games with a right patella stress fracture. “Obviously, I didn’t get a full basketball workout in for like five-and-a-half months. It’s good to finally be back on the court and starting to build towards something and I’m really happy that this is happening.”
Now momentum is building for the season to resume. Sports Illustrated reported that a 70-game regular season is being considered, reduced from the normal 82, with the playoffs beginning in July.
Getting to 70 regular-season games is important for local TV contracts.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver unveils the NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award during a news conference Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) (Photo: David Banks, AP)
Kaminsky, a Suns’ team representative for the National Basketball Players Association, is very optimistic the NBA will resume this season.
“No one is too committal on any set plan yet, but there are a lot of rumors and a lot of things that you’re hearing is it’s going to resume,” said Kaminsky, who was on the call with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver last week.
“All we can do pretty much at this point is prepare for that to happen. There’s a lot of hope out there and it would be kind of a crushing blow at this point if it didn’t happen, but I think everyone in their mind knows that eventually, hopefully pretty soon that it’s going to resume.”
Kaminsky is certainly mindful of the coronavirus pandemic that has has reached more than 1.5 million cases and over 90,000 deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control, but says players are preparing for a season to continue.
“I think everyone is starting to prepare for that reality,” Kaminsky said. “Hopefully it happens sooner rather than later. Obviously the health and safety of everyone is been like the biggest point and as long as everyone can stay healthy and be safe and play in an environment that’s good for everyone’s health, I think it’s going to happen pretty soon.”
If the NBA resumes the season with 70 regular-season games, the Suns (26-39) have already played 65 and are six games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference held by Memphis, which owns the tiebreaker over them.
So Phoenix wouldn’t be able to catch the Grizzlies, but talk of a possible play-in game sounds intriguing to Kaminsky, who was cleared for “basketball activity” the day Silver pushed pause on the season March 11.
“That would really give us something to build towards,” Kaminsky said. “But I think if it is only five games for us, we’re the type of group that’s really competitive. Everyone wants to go out there and prove things.”
Plus it would be nice for him and Suns to play a game with everyone healthy. Kelly Oubre Jr. seems to have recovered from a March 3 knee injury.
“You think about it, I don’t think there was a game where we were completely healthy this entire season,” said Kaminsky as the Suns had 15 different starting lineups.
Kaminsky is also very open to playing wherever the team is asked to go.
“I’ll go to Saturn to play basketball at this point,” Kaminsky said. “I’ll go pretty much anywhere. You tell me where to be and I’ll be there ready to play. Like I said, it’s been a long time for me. If it is Orlando, if it’s Las Vegas, if it’s any of the other places that you’ve heard rumors about, I’m pretty sure anyone would be pretty much excited to go anywhere.”
Kaminsky said it would take “a couple of weeks” for the team to get back in basketball shape once everyone returns if the season is resumed. He acknowledged Jevon Carter has been participating in the voluntary workouts as Carter posted an Instagram video of him in the arena, but declined to name other teammates who are participating.
“There’s been different people pretty much every single day,” Kaminsky said. “Everything right now is completely optional. So as long as everyone feels safe and healthy and out here? Most guys have been pretty much been here. Obviously there are some people with families and stuff. They’ve got to look out for themselves and the health of their kids and families.”
Ricky Rubio, Dario Saric and Aron Baynes have children.
“All the guys like me who kind of don’t really have no one to go home to or anything like that, we’ve kind of been out here working out,” Kaminsky added.
The Suns provided the media video of Kaminsky working out with a staff member, who was wearing a mask. The video also showed assistant coach Mark Bryant in attendance standing underneath the basket while Kaminsky was shooting.
“It’s definitely weird coming to the arena getting your temperature checked every single day,” Kaminsky said. “That’s definitely different. Having to come in with a mask on. Go to your spots. Pretty much try to stay away from people as much as you can. Also get workouts in.”
The NBA has a strict list of guidelines players must follow for these workouts Kaminsky detailed in length in discussing the adjustments he’s had to make to do the workouts.
“It’s definitely weird,” Kaminsky continued. “Normally, you have someone close to you, setting screens. Playing defense on you. Doing all that kind of stuff. Things you really can’t do right now. You got to stay away. I think the guideline is 12 feet and obviously sometimes that tough during a workout to be 12 feet away from the people that are working you out. It’s weird, it’s different. You get used to it pretty quick.”
As Kaminsky put it, “right now, this is the norm” for basketball.
“If this is the way that we get access to basketball workouts, I’m sure everyone is going to take it,” he added. “Like I said, anything is better than nothing.”
Kaminsky has taken a likening to “Madhouse on McDowell” where the Suns played from their inaugural 1968-69 season to the 1991-92 season before moving into what is now Talking Stick Resort Arena.
“It’s really cool,” said Kaminsky, who added that he’s “fascinated with the engineering” of the arena. “Obviously this is an old building, but it’s got like an historic feel to it. It’s definitely different than any other NBA arena I’ve been in.”
The Suns are utilizing Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum for the workouts while Talking Stick Resort Arena continues to undergo renovations for its $230-million renovation project and the new $45-million practice on 44th Street and just north of Camelback Road is being constructed.
Kaminsky sees the workouts as a sign things are moving towards a safer way of living as the state’s stay-at-home order was lifted last week.
“That’s the way I’m taking it,” he said. “It’s starting to get safer. There’s a lot more information out there that we have an understanding of what is going on. Obviously it’s unfortunate what’s happening. A lot of people are getting sick. A lot of people are losing their lives, but as long as we can stay healthy and get in gear and build towards something good, I’m all on board for that.”
Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at [email protected] or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.
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