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Suns’ Devin Booker to Return Opening Night

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The Phoenix Suns will start the 2018-2019 regular season with their franchise cornerstone, shooting guard  Devin Booker, back on the court, according to Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov on Monday.

Booker will likely wear a splint on his pinky/ring finger after missing the entire preseason after undergoing surgery to repair an injury to the fifth metacarpophalangeal joint in his right hand in early September.

 

New Orleans Pelicans

Pelicans’ Elfrid Payton to Miss 6 Weeks

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The New Orleans Pelicans will be without guard Elfrid Payton for up to six weeks, according to an official team report.

Payton suffered a fractured left fifth finger against the New York Knicks on November 16 and will undergo surgery tomorrow to repair the fracture. New Orleans signed him as a free agent this offseason and he has been a great fit in the backcourt this season.

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Eastern Conference

Wizards ‘Giving Impression’ John Wall, Bradley Beal Available in Trade

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The Washington Wizards may be ready to open up shop and trade guard John Wall or Bradley Beal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Per the report, the longtime untouchable pieces of the Wizards’ core are now not so unobtainable as Washington has struggled to a dismal 5-11 record this season and with play on the court looking listless.

Washington has tried shopping Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre in hopes of bringing in a 3rd star to team with Beal and Wall, but have been unable to find any takers, leading them to consider dealing the two superstars.

Washington’s preference remains to reshape the team around Wall and Beal but the play has paralyzed their efforts in acquiring stars such as Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, per league sources.

Beal, who is younger than Wall, will likely be the more attractive trade piece, even financially. Wall’s contract extension starts in 2019-20 and will average $42 million annually for four years, and is considered to be a favorite among ownership.

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Eastern Conference

Knicks’ Trey Burke Says Team Like Navy SEALS

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New York Knicks point guard Trey Burke compared his team to the Navy SEALS for the way they put their lives on the line when they take the court. While the comparison may seem ridiculous, Burke elaborated.

“It’s a whole level of focus we have to have,’’ Trey Burke said, according to the New York Post’s Marc Berman. “Take the me out of it and it’s we. It’s like Navy SEALs. There’s lives on the line. I know it’s not life and death, but in this league it kind of is. You want to win games. We got to learn to value it. We value just being in the games with these playoff teams. ‘We’re in the game.’ It’s not what it’s about.’

Burke knows that he has to be ready when he is called upon.

When my number’s called, I can’t be something I’m not,’’ Burke said. “I have to be the guard that I am. Coach [David Fizdale] told me to attack. That’s what I’m going to do. I can’t try to please being someone I’m not. That’s what I did earlier in the season. For this team to win, I have to be the Trey Burke everyone knows I can be.”

Burke had to work hard to get back to the NBA, with a strong performance in the G-League earning him a spot on the Knicks roster. While Burke struggled this season, he has started to showcase the ability he had when he lit up the G League last year.

“[I was] being conservative, letting the game come to me,’’ Burke said. “Not attacking immediately. Naturally I’m a scoring point guard. When I attack it’s not always for me to score, it creates for others to. I wasn’t doing that.

“Earlier in the season, I was settling too much for jump shots. Having time to reflect how I was effective last season and different spurts throughout my career, I was always in attack mode and having fun and getting in the paint.

“We didn’t win but it’s a game I can build on,’’ Burke said.

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