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Deandre Ayton comes off bench in return to lineup vs. Blazers [UPDATE]

Suns center had been out due to ankle sprain, grabbed 12 rebounds off the bench in win over Portland on Monday.

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton against the Sacramento Kings at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: We saw Ayton’s return to the lineup in a win over the Trail Blazers on Monday. He ended up playing 20 minutes off the bench, grabbing 12 rebounds with six points. As I alluded to below, the Suns opted to play that small-ball lineup featuring Kelly Oubre Jr. at the 4 and Mikal Bridges at the 3 with Devin Booker, Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes.

Ayton was strong on the glass, which is encouraging, and he should get back into the starting lineup soon I’d imagine.

UPDATE: Ayton will play Monday vs. the Trail Blazers. Ayton will come off the bench and Baynes will remain in the starting lineup. He will also have his minutes monitored and will only play in bursts.

Phoenix Suns C Deandre Ayton may return to the lineup Monday vs. the Portland Trail Blazers.

It seems like Ayton is more of a game-time decision than questionable, but he’s got a chance to play tonight. Ayton has missed the past five games due to an ankle injury he sustained after returning from a 25-game suspension on Dec. 17.

Fantasy Basketball Analysis: Phoenix Suns C Deandre Ayton

Ayton looked good in his one game back from suspension, scoring 18 points with 12 rebounds in 24 minutes. It was a shame he injured his ankle immediately after, but if he can return Monday vs. the Blazers he’d be in a good spot. We’ll have to see if Ayton is on a minutes limit before making any lineup decisions. If Ayton returns, Aron Baynes should go back to the bench, though Baynes would still see minutes in the frontcourt.

The Suns have been using smaller lineup with Mikal Bridges at small forward and Kelly Oubre Jr. at power forward, so that’s something they could continue to do — with or without Ayton back. We’ll see what Williams decides as to the status of Ayton. If he remains out, I think Baynes is an OK value and Bridges should see plenty of minutes off the bench again.