Frye returns to Suns, missed year with heart issue
PHOENIX (AP) — Almost exactly a year after a routine pre-training camp physical uncovered a heart condition that threatened his career, and maybe worse, Channing Frye is back with the Phoenix Suns.
Suns officials say they decided over the weekend that Frye should re-join the team after he was unanimously cleared by several doctors.
Frye has been inactive, in the literal sense of the word, for a year while treating an enlarged heart apparently caused by a virus. How he got the virus remains a mystery.
“There’s no real explanation,” he said. “It could be a thousand things ... It’s like my heart had a cold, it had a cold for a year, it went away so now I’m better.”
The 6-foot-11 forward has played seven seasons in the NBA, his last three with the Suns. At 30, Frye is the oldest player on the Suns’ overhauled roster.
“There’s a lot of weird feelings going on right now,” he said. “It’s been one of the hardest years I’ve ever had to go through just because I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t rehab it. I couldn’t go out on the court and work on it. It was just something I had to sit and wait and heal.”
Asked if he had done any basketball activity, Frye’s answer was: very little.
“Just a little dribbling here, a little shooting there,” he said, “but not enough to break a sweat, put it that way.”
Frye said he will ease into things and knows he is under the watchful eye of the Suns training staff.
He said he had talked with other NBA players who had similar conditions and they all said the same thing. Listen to your doctor and follow his advice.
Frye must hardly recognize the Suns from the team he left two seasons ago. New general manager Sean McDonough and new coach Jeff Hornacek have greatly remodeled the roster.
Frye, a career 39 percent 3-point shooter, would be an important component to what Hornacek wants to do, especially with a lineup that has two point guards — Goran Dragic and newcomer Eric Bledsoe — on the floor at the same time.
McDonough said every roster plan he developed was better with Frye in it.
“I think he’ll play a lot of power forward, maybe even some center,” McDonough said. “The way coach and I would like to play is with the floor spread, and having a power forward that can shoot is a big part of that plan. Channing is one of the better if not the best shooting big man in the league.”
Frye did not downplay the enormity of his condition or what might have happened had it not been detected when it was.
“I think it was very serious,” he said. “As professional athletes, we push ourselves every day. There’s really no medium to exercise, there’s zero and there’s 100. Every doctor I went to was like, ‘Thank God we caught it when we did.’”
But he said he never felt his basketball career was over.
“When things didn’t look good, I just felt like I wasn’t done yet,” said Frye, who is married with two small children.
“If at any point the doctors had said, ‘Hey, look, this is not going to work out,’ I would have just stopped because (family) come before this, come before my career.”
Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx