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Suns' Booker ready to go for season-opener

From NBA media reports

* Tonight on ESPN: Mavericks vs. Suns, 10:30 ET

The Phoenix Suns will have their best player in uniform when their 2018-19 season tips off tonight.

Guard Devin Booker has been on the injury-rehab trail since having surgery on Sept. 10 to repair an injury to the fifth metacarpophalangeal joint in his right (shooting) hand. He had been expected to miss six weeks, but has been working feverishly to get into position to play against Dallas. Originally, he was slated to return on Oct. 22 for a game against the Golden State Warriors.

After yesterday’s practice, Booker told reporters he is happy to be suiting up for the Suns’ first game of the season, writes Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

“I’m excited, man,” Booker said. “It’s not just this preseason that I missed. I missed the last 12 games of last season, also (with hand injury). Haven’t played competitive basketball in a very long time. So, I’m very excited to get out there with a whole new team, new coach. Almost a new organization. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction and tomorrow is going to be a good test for us.”

He’s rehabbed, began shooting with his right hand three weeks after surgery, been cleared for contact, and is now a day away from completing that long road back onto the court.

“That’s something that I was very excited for,” Booker said. “Something every day in rehab that I was thinking about and now that day is here.”

Booker said he plans to tape his two outside fingers together as a precaution. He had some reservations last week about the hand, but said his injury “can’t get worse,” especially with tape on it.

Booker averaged 24.9 points per game last season, his third in the NBA, and signed a five-year maximum extension with Phoenix in the offseason. The former 13th overall pick won the JBL Three-Point Contest during NBA All-Star 2018 and participated in the USA Men’s National Team minicamp in Las Vegas over the summer.

New Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said earlier in the week that Booker would play in the opener. The Suns are hoping to take a step forward behind Booker and the offseason additions of No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, No. 10 overall pick Mikal Bridges and veterans Trevor Ariza, Jamal Crawford and Ryan Anderson. Phoenix has not made the playoffs since 2010.