Scott Williams, out for the season's first nine games while recovering from surgery on his left thumb, is expected to be activated for tonight's game vs. the Chicago Bulls.
He could even replace Jahidi White as the starting center tonight. White underwent surgery on his left pinky finger Monday to repair a tendon; the Suns hope he will miss only tonight's game.
Suns coach Frank Johnson needled Williams, in a joking fashion, on his having missed nine games to perhaps only one for White.
"Maybe it's an age thing," Johnson said. Williams is 35, while White is 27. Replied Williams, "There's a big difference between a thumb and a pinky.
"The thumb controls the rest of the hand. The pinky is just hanging on."
When pressed, though, he admitted, "There might be a bit of an age factor."
More seriously, Williams said his skills seem OK despite the layoff, and that, "I've shot the ball better than I'd expected" in practice.
But, he said his conditioning will need to improve before he can play big minutes.
And, "Game-speed decisions will be a problem for a while. I hope that will pass quickly."
Williams hasn't played in a game since the Suns' playoff exit vs. San Antonio on May 1.
The Suns' offense continues to struggle, especially at the end of games.
This is so even though Johnson says the offense is basically the same one used by the Suns last season. "The offense is not the problem . . . We're getting all the shots we want," Johnson said.
"We just have to make them."
He acknowledged, however, that the Suns tend to move the ball better early in games than late, when they've faltered.
"Sharing the ball is a problem. We share it early, but we don't share it late."
Finishing fast breaks continue to be a problem. Johnson said the Suns might get 10 chances and throw the ball away on five of them.
"That's poor," Johnson said. "That's just understanding how to play."
Perhaps 12 of the Suns' 38 turnovers in the last two games came on fast breaks, he said.
'Z' WAITS HIS TURN
The Suns have been going with a fat rotation, generally using 10 players, a common early-season practice in the NBA. But little time has gone to rookie Zarko Cabarkapa, who drew raves for his play in summer-league action.
Johnson said recently that he would sit veteran Tom Gugliotta for a while and try out the forward from Serbia. But Cabarkapa played only five minutes against Houston and not at all against Detroit, both Suns losses.
Johnson said only that he didn't like Cabarkapa's matchups vs. the Pistons.
Cabarkapa sat out Monday's workout with a mild ankle sprain, but he's expected to be available tonight.