Center Benoit Benjamin, who had half of the nail on his left big toe removed Tuesday, practiced lightly Thursday. His status for tonight’s series opener is doubtful, leaving Coach Randy Pfund to juggle his reserve rotation yet again.
James Edwards, who played a total of 38 minutes over three games in the last month of the season, may pick up Benjamin’s minutes in relief of Vlade Divac.
“James Edwards is a guy who’s been involved in a lot of playoffs and been successful,” Pfund said, “but Benoit gives us some rebounding off the bench and has been a little bit of an anchor for us.”
Through the continuing speculation about his dismissal after the season, Pfund has kept his sense of humor. When asked whether he realized that trading Sam Perkins for Benjamin and Doug Christie was a long-term investment that had a high immediate price, Pfund said, smiling, “Yeah, my head.”
Charles Barkley, on the three-day mini-camp that Coach Paul Westphal set up earlier this week to help the Suns concentrate on this series: “I’ve been focused since I’ve been 12. You just have to go out and play.”
Westphal was cagey when asked how long Kevin Johnson would be sidelined because of a sprained left knee. Initial reports had said two games, but that was later extended to three. Westphal wasn’t saying much Thursday.
“He’s definitely out (tonight),” Westphal said. “There’s no definite timetable, but he’s coming along real well. I expect him back sooner rather than later.”