Suns’ Bender to have ankle surgery, season in jeopardy

Suns rookie forward Dragan Bender missed seven of the Suns' past eight games with what the team called an ankle contusion.
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Suns rookie Dragan Bender had surgery on his injured right ankle Wednesday, putting the rest of his rookie season in jeopardy.

Initial reports Wednesday morning stated Bender will miss the rest of the season, but subsequent reports said a return this year is possible. In announcing the successful surgery late Wednesday, the Suns said Bender “is estimated to return to full basketball activity in approximately four to six weeks.” There is roughly eight weeks remaining in the season.

The Suns said the surgery, performed by Dr. Ned Amendola at Duke University Hospital, was to remove a bone spur.

“It’s tough. It’s unfortunate,” Suns coach Earl Watson said. “But at the same time, he’s 19. We don’t want to rush him back. We want him to get healthy and come back and have a long career.”

As for whether the injury is season-ending, Watson replied: “Hopefully, he gets back before the season’s over, but if it’s not time, it’s not time.”

Bender missed seven of the Suns’ past eight games with what the team called an ankle contusion. The No. 4 pick in last summer’s draft, Bender last played Feb. 1 against the Clippers and Jan. 22 before that.

Bender averaged 3.2 points, and 2.2 rebounds, shooting 37.1 percent from the field, and playing 12.7 minutes per game in 38 games.