According to Haynes, the Suns are encouraged by the progress of Paul, who has been quarantining in Los Angeles, and are hopeful that he’ll be able to clear the NBA’s health and safety protocols at some point “early” in the Western Finals. Game 2 vs. the Clippers is scheduled for Tuesday following Phoenix’s Game 1 win on Sunday.
Paul has reportedly been vaccinated against the coronavirus, and the fact that he’s symptom-free should further expedite his return. However, he’ll still need to record multiple negative tests before he receives clearance to rejoin the team.
“It’s just a day-to-day thing with him right now,” head coach Monty Williams said after Sunday’s game, per Haynes. “I probably drive the people here crazy with that, but that’s the way it is. We’re hopeful that any day now we hear he can ramp up and get back with us. But right now, he’s in the protocol.”
Paul helped lead the Suns to the second-best record in the NBA season and wins in the first two rounds of the postseason, earning All-NBA Second Team honors and finishing fifth in MVP voting.
Even without him in the lineup, though, Phoenix was able to pick up a win in Game 1 on Sunday over the Clippers, who are missing an All-NBA player of their own (Kawhi Leonard). Devin Booker made up for Paul’s absence by posting 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, while replacement point guard Cameron Payne recorded 11 points and nine assists, along with a plus-14 rating, in 29 minutes.