Phoenix Suns' Jae Crowder, Elfrid Payton in NBA's COVID health and safety protocols – The Arizona Republic

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Suns starting forward Jae Crowder was wearing a mask at the start of a media interview following Thursday morning’s shootaround before facing Oklahoma City.
Trying to be careful.
“We’re sitting on these phone calls and you’re hearing all these mandates and stuff that may be coming our way,” Crowder said. “So I’m just trying to stay ahead of the curve a little bit. Trying to take care of myself, but it’s tough. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s tough because some days, you feel like the virus is going south and other days you feel like it’s picking up and spreading like wildfire. I’m just trying to find a balance and just trying to stay safe.”
Three days later, Crowder and Suns reserve guard Elfrid Payton were placed in the NBA’s COVID health and safety protocols, The Republic confirmed Sunday.  ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first tweeted the news earlier in the day.
In reaction, the Suns also are reportedly looking to sign players to 10-day deals as teams can sign one replacement player for each player on their roster who tests positive for COVID-19.
Suns two-way player Ish Wainright is out with low back soreness.
“It’s not the best situation in the world, but nothing is right now,” Suns coach Monty Williams said last week. “We’re all navigating uncertainty and depth is going to be something that’s of high value. We just have to continue to adapt.”
Crowder played 31 minutes and 50 seconds in Saturday’s loss to Golden State at Footprint Center. Payton didn’t see any action, but did dress for the Christmas game.
The Suns (26-6) informed local media Sunday morning that the team decided not to practice, but that the reasoning wasn’t “COVID-19 related.”
Hours later, ESPN reported Crowder and Payton are entering the league’s protocols.
After Saturday’s game, a table was set up in the hallway by the visiting locker room with what appeared to be a box full of COVID-19 tests.
The Suns entered this season with Devin Booker testing positive for COVID-19, but all the players, including Booker, confirmed they were vaccinated.
Suns lead assistant Kevin Young was under health and safety protocols earlier this season as he tested positive for the virus while Deandre Ayton and Jalen Smith were recently out for a non-COVID illness.
This is all part of the league having to postpone games and having players and coaches entering the league’s protocols amid a worldwide rise in COVID cases as the fast-spreading omicron variant emerged last month.
Phoenix’s next scheduled game is Monday at home against Memphis.
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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