The NBA Playoffs and Phoenix Suns suffered a huge blow when star Chris Paul was ruled out indefinitely after landing in the COVID-19 protocols. While the MVP of the postseason might not be out for long, he missed Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
Here is the latest update on when Chris Paul could return to the court.
When will Chris Paul return?
According to ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin and Adrian Wojnarowski, there is “optimism within the Phoenix Suns organization” that Paul could return for Game 3.
The Suns were without Paul for Tuesday’s Game 2 battle against the Clippers, which Deandre Ayton won on a dramatic, buzzer-beating alley-oop to give Phoenix a 104-103 win. However, there’s a possibility CP3 could be back in action when the team heads to Los Angeles.
Phoenix won Game 1 without Paul, too, thanks to strong efforts from Devin Booker and Ayton. Booker recorded a 40-point triple double in the 120-114 victory. Ayton chipped in 20 points, shooting 10-of-14 from the field and playing strong defense.
Cameron Payne has started in Paul’s place, scoring 11 points and adding nine assists in Game 1. But his Game 2 performance was incredible, as Payne scored 29 points with nine dimes.
News broke after the second round that Paul would be sidelined indefinitely as he went through the NBA’s health and safety protocols. It immediately put his status for the Western Conference finals in doubt, with fears that the future Hall of Famer’s misfortune in the playoffs returned.
Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported Sunday night that Paul is symptom-free and remains quarantined in Los Angeles, with the Suns hopeful he could return early in the series against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Was Chris Paul vaccinated?
Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro reported that Paul tested positive for COVID-19. However, the team’s optimism for a quicker return is reasonable.
ESPN’s Jalen Rose shared that Paul is vaccinated, receiving the Pfizer shots in February. Random testing showed that Pfizer had approximately a 94% efficacy rate of preventing COVID-19 associated illnesses, so Paul testing positive for the virus was never impossible.
Because he received the vaccine, NBA protocols could allow him to return sooner than if he was unvaccinated. If he is asymptomatic and later returns a negative test, the league can clear him to return to the Suns’ lineup.
Phoenix doesn’t expect Paul to be cleared for Game 1, even if it’s played on Tuesday. But, barring an even more unlikely outcome, the All-Star guard should return to the court early in a series against the Clippers.
Updates on Chris Paul
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Saturday night that Paul will miss Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Clippers.
In Paul’s absence, Cameron Payne will slide into the starting lineup. The No. 14 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Payne made one start during the regular season, scoring 19 points and contributing six assists. With CP3 sidelined, Phoenix will need Devin Booker to deliver a strong performance.
The Clippers will also be dealing with injuries. Los Angeles ruled Kawhi Leonard out for Game 1.
But it seems all hope isn’t lost for the Suns and their 36-year-old point guard, based on the latest update from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“They’re going to re-evaluate on Saturday with Chris Paul. I’m told that there’s optimism, there’s hope, that he’s not going to miss any kind of a significant part of the Western Conference finals, maybe one game. But you’re at the mercy of the testing and that protocol.”Adrian Wojnarowski’s Chris Paul update on Get Up
Paul remains in the COVID-19 health and safety protocols as of Saturday.