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Suns C Deandre Ayton enters health and safety protocols

The Suns center will be sidelined vs. the Grizzlies after entering the league’s COVID protocols.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns have placed Deandre Ayton in the league’s health and safety protocols, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and has been ruled out of Monday’s home game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Ayton joins Jae Crowder and Elfrid Payton on the list of Suns players who are currently in protocols due to COVID-19.

This is certainly a blow for the reigning Western Conference Champions to lose their prized big man as they currently sit in second in the conference standings coming out of the Christmas holiday. The former No. 1 overall pick was averaging 17 points and 11.1 rebounds a game and was last in action during the Suns’ 116-107 loss to the Warriors on Christmas. In that game, he came away with 18 points and seven boards.

On Monday, the NBA officially shortened isolation periods for asymptomatic players who test positive from 10 days down to six, so Ayton could return to the court quicker than he would have been able to if he entered protocol last week. Phoenix will host Oklahoma City on Wednesday before beginning a three-game road trip on Friday.