The Phoenix Suns are suddenly very thin on the wing after Cameron Johnson underwent surgery Tuesday to remove part of the meniscus in his right knee, an injury that could keep him out for up to two months, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
That doesn't mean Jae Crowder will be returning to the team amid his desire to be traded, however. Per that report, "there is no change to the situation with Crowder, and there are no current plans for him to return to the team, sources said."
The two sides mutually agreed to pursue a trade for Crowder in late September, though the veteran wing pushed back on the narrative that losing his starting job to Johnson was the reason for his discontent:
Chris Haynes @ChrisBHaynes
My <a href="https://twitter.com/NBAonTNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBAonTNT</a> in-game report on my conversation with Suns forward Jae Crowder, who is away from the team and waiting on a trade: ‘It’s definitely not true of the narrative being pushed about me starting or not.’ <a href="https://t.co/QL41N3Njub">pic.twitter.com/QL41N3Njub</a>
"The business of basketball has taken its course, and changes have come," Crowder said in a statement to TNT's Chris Haynes. "I do not want to give the details just yet, but it's definitely not true of the narrative being pushed about me not starting or not. I can honestly say that."
It's more likely that the dispute comes down to money, with Yahoo Sports' Jake Fischer reporting in October that "with Crowder’s three-year, $29.1 million deal expiring at the conclusion of this 2022-23 campaign, the Suns, sources said, are unwilling to offer an extension of similar value that Crowder is once again commanding."
The standoff had already left the Suns with a gap in their rotation, but the added injury to Johnson now has the Suns turning to their bench for help on the perimeter.
Thus far, the team has managed the situation to the tune of a 7-3 record, but Torrey Craig is now in the starting lineup in place of Johnson, while Damion Lee, Landry Shamet and Josh Okogie should see their roles increase.
While Shamet and Lee were already fixtures in the lineup, Okogie should get the chance to prove he can produce in a limited role at the back of the rotation. It isn't ideal for the Suns, who may now have added incentive to find a new home for Crowder and bring back a serviceable player or two in the process.