Head coach Monty Williams and starting center Deandre Ayton join a list of Suns placed under the NBA’s COVID health and safety protocols, league sources informed The Republic on Monday.
Suns lead assistant Kevin Young was serving as head coach for Monday’s game against Memphis at Footprint Center.
Young was out earlier this season under health and safety protocols after testing positive for COVID-19.
“In the league, everyone’s kind of going through the same thing,” Young said before Monday’s game. “We had a slogan as far as last year, going back to last year, is navigating uncertainty. And here we are.”
Suns starting forward Jae Crowder and reserve guard Elfrid Payton were placed under health and safety protocols Sunday, but Payton was cleared to play Monday evening.
With more than 100 players and coaches having been in NBA’s health and safety protocols in December alone, the Suns may have more players enter the protocols in the near future.
“Everyone is going to have to step up,” Young said. “Everyone’s got to have each other’s backs. Luckily that’s been a strength of ours with this program.”
Young has been a head coach before in the G League.
“Coached with a lot of passion,” said Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins, who also coached in the G League. “I remember seeing him on the sidelines even when we were going against each other as assistant coaches. Young coaches coming up in the league. He has a lot of attention to detail. Creative mind defensively and offensively.”
The Suns didn’t have a morning shootaround Monday as they had to wait on test results.
Phoenix signed Emanuel Terry to a 10-day contract, as teams up until Jan. 19 can sign one replacement player for each player on their roster who tests positive for COVID-19.
Terry played for the Suns in the 2018-19 season.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drives past Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, in Phoenix.
The Grizzlies entered Monday’s games with the following players out under the league’s health and safety protocols – Dillon Brooks, Jarrett Culver, De’Anthony Melton and two-way player Yves Pons.
“It definitely poses its challenges, but I also look at it in that it creates opportunities,” Jenkins said. “I give our entire staff, our players a lot of credit for the adaptability. With this new surge coming out worldwide, especially across the NBA in our little bubble right now, we talk about hey, this is how we addressed it last year. We’ve got to get creative and adapt.”
The Grizzlies had a “virtual” walkthrough Monday on the second of a back-to-back after winning Sunday at Sacramento.
“We’re having to move things around from practices or being more virtual and attentive to all the protocols and try to stay as safe as possible,” Jenkins said. “Our guys are doing a great job of that. I think our medical team does a great job of educating everyone and identifying those that may be at risk right now and trying to keep this train moving forward as best as possible. We’re definitely not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination, but as much as we can control, still doing our preparation.”