Devin Booker

Pacific Notes: Randle, Booker, Ball

A move back into the starting lineup has helped Lakers forward Julius Randle take his game to another level, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register writes. The 23-year-old has averaged 16.1 points and 9.3 rebounds in just 26.5 minutes of action.

Randle, who started the season off the bench after two years as the team’s starting power forward, was promoted by Lakers head coach Luke Walton to be a physical presence for the squad and collect rebounds.

All in, Randle has registered seven double-doubles in the month of January alone while also taking major steps defensively. The move into the starting lineup, Oram writes, comes with more responsibility on that end of the ball considering that the Lakers tend to play man-to-man with their starters while switching everything with their reserves.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • X-Rays of Devin Booker‘s ribs came back negative, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes. The 21-year-old Suns guard missed Monday’s game with a rib contusion but hopes to be back in the lineup Wednesday.
  • The Trail Blazers are playing some of their best basketball of the season of late, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes, but everything can change at the drop of a hat in the competitive Western Conference. Head coach Terry Stotts cautioned against counting out the Pelicans and Thunder following the recent season-ending injuries to DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Roberson, however.
  • Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball has started testing his knee laterally, Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times tweets. Ball still isn’t practicing with the team but seems to be making gradual progress. Ball has missed seven straight games.

Pacific Notes: Booker, Jackson, Lakers, Kings

The Suns played Devin Booker at point guard on Friday against Knicks, a different look for the team’s standout scorer. However, Phoenix’s interim coach Jay Triano believes that Booker at point guard can work, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes.

Triano cited Rockets superstar James Harden and his ability to both score and make plays on the court.

“The idea came from how the Rockets are playing offensively, how efficient they are,” Triano said. “(Harden’s) move to the point guard spot is one of the things we looked at when we thought about having him play that position.”

Booker is having a standout season for Phoenix, averaging 24.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, and 4.5 RPG in 39 games.

Check out other Pacific Division news below:

  • Suns forward Josh Jackson is outspoken for a 20-year-old rookie but he backs up his words and opinions by showing improvement, Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports writes. While Jackson’s remarks about his teammates can be interpreted a certain way from a distance, he does what he needs to do to improve, Bordow writes.
  • The Lakers have been in a rebuild mode for several seasons as they have gone through numerous head coaches, front office hires, and roster changes. However, Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register writes that the Lakers are not cut out to be in a rebuild mode but rather to shortcut through the phase in an attempt to compete.
  • Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee answered several reader questions pertaining to possible trades and the Kings‘ future.

Western Notes: Daniels, Booker, Nuggets, Paul

Shooting guard Troy Daniels is one of the players the Suns could move before the trade deadline, according to Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. Daniels is averaging 8.3 PPG off the bench this season while shooting 42.5% from long range. He is signed through next season for a very affordable $3.25MM but if rookie Davon Reed comes on strong this month, Daniels becomes expendable, Bordow continues. Veterans Tyson Chandler, Greg Monroe and Jared Dudley could also be moved during the next five weeks, Bordow adds.

In other Western Conference developments:

  • The Suns have been using Devin Booker at the point during crunch times situations, Bordow notes in the same piece. Interim coach Jay Triano believes Booker could eventually become a playmaker in the mold of James Harden.
  • A friendly schedule could boost the Nuggets over the two next months, as Christopher Dempsey of the team’s website points out. They play 17 of their next 25 games at home, where they have gone 12-4 this season. “Hopefully we can use January, which is a lot of home games, to kind of build and get ahead and not be two games over .500,” coach Michael Malone told Dempsey. “I’m pretty satisfied with where we are, but we have a lot of work to do.”
  • Gerald Green was surprised how much he was able to contribute after signing a non-guaranteed contract with the Rockets last week, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Green scored 18 points in 27 minutes off the bench on Friday in Washington, his first NBA game since a preseason stint with the Bucks. “I am very surprised about my wind,” he told Feigen. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I’m actually happy with myself about the work I’ve been putting in. That’s really been paying off.”

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Young, Livingston, Cauley-Stein, Booker

The Lakers are in the midst of another losing season and it has taken a toll on the young team. Head coach Luke Walton held a meeting for the team instead of practice on Thursday to give players a chance to air their grievances, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. 

Last week, Lakers veteran Andrew Bogut agreed that certain players on the team are frustrated and it has impacted their performance. A lot of L.A.’s focus is on the impending free agent market, where the team is expected to pursue top-notch talent. That has left some players on the roster with less playing time and the impression that they are mere placeholders.

“There’s some frustration,” Walton said. “But there’s frustration on every team unless you win every game. Whenever you lose games, there’s frustration, people want to play more as everyone in the league should want to play more.”

Entering play on Friday, the Lakers are 11-22, 13th place in the Western Conference. Much has been made of rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma this season, and left others, such as Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, in a bind. There is a likelihood that several players on the current roster will not be there after the trade deadline, thus making the team’s future clearer.

Check out other Pacific Division news below:

  • Warriors guard Shaun Livingston spoke to Logan Murdock of the Mercury News to discuss his role on the team, adjusting with Stephen Curry injured, and dealing with his own injury. Livingston said that Golden State expects to win even if one of their All-Star’s is out. “I think what we’ve been able to accomplish, it’s been expected to be honest with you. For us, as players, we believe in ourselves, we believe in our game,” he said.
  • In a wide-ranging interview with Marcus Thompson II of The Atheltic (subscription required and recommended), Warriors sharpshooter Nick Young discussed his adjustment to the Warriors and appreciation for life in Oakland.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein has played so well recently, the Kings are starting to see the development of the supreme talent they thought they drafted three years ago, Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee relays. “These last games, I’m seeing what I was hoping for when I drafted Willie,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said. “He runs, he scores, he blocks shots, he scores in the post. He does everything. And we noticed last summer how much harder he was working. There were questions, but I don’t think so anymore. If he keeps developing like this, he will be an elite center in this league.”
  • Devin Booker, who is just 21 years old, will be a key piece of the Suns‘ future and he will have input into all of the team’s decisions, including coaching and free agency signings. Scott Bordow of the Arizona Central Sports writes that Suns general manager Ryan McDonough views Booker an important “partner in the process” of competing over the next decade.

Injury Notes: Johnson, Curry, Hardaway

James Johnson, who re-signed with the Heat on a four-year, $60MM deal, will be out of the lineup indefinitely because of ankle bursitis, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Johnson missed three games earlier this month because of the ailment and tried to play on Saturday against New Orleans. He had to leave the contest before halftime and the Heat are now expected to closely monitor him until he returns to full health.

“My foot wasn’t functional at the time,” Johnson said of leaving the game. “But I think it was way better just not coming back out at halftime than it was when I just had to leave the court, for sure. So I feel improvement. I see improvement on it. So, like I said, just day-to-day treatment as much as I can.”

Here’s more injury notes from around the league:

  • Stephen Curry will remain out until at least Friday and coach Steve Kerr said the point guard needs to go through as many as three more practices before he plays in a game, Ramona Shelburne of tweets. Curry went through 4-on-4 drills over the weekend and the team will see how handles more activities before clearing him to return.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. has been “moving more every day,” Ian Begley of relays on Twitter. Begley adds that the shooting guard has not yet been cleared to run, though the Knicks expect him back with the team at some point next month.
  • Devin Booker has missed the last nine games with a groin injury, but he’ll be back in action for tonight’s contest against the Grizzlies, according to Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic (Twitter feed). The Suns have gone 3-6 with Booker sidelined.

Suns Notes: Canaan, Booker, James, Monroe

Isaiah Canaan‘s playmaking and defense helped him win a roster spot in Phoenix, writes Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. After joining the Suns when they were granted a hardship exception 10 days ago, Canaan has been rewarded with a contract for the rest of the season.

“I wasn’t caught up in how many days and how long I might be around here,” he said. “Make a splash and showcase what I can do. I was going to come in, do what I knew I was capable of doing and what I needed to do to stay around.”

Canaan earned the nod over incumbent starting point guard Mike James, who was waived Friday. The Suns see Canaan as more of a natural point guard than James, Bordow explains, and were happy with how he ran the offense. He also exhibited a willingness to fight through screen-and-rolls and helped Phoenix hold its opponents under 100 points twice in his first four games with the team.

There’s more tonight out of Phoenix:

  • The Suns expect Devin Booker back in the lineup Tuesday, Bordow relays in the same story. That will mark exactly three weeks since he suffered a left adductor strain. Booker will participate in Sunday’s practice, then will be medically evaluated to see how he responds. “He’s moving well, but it’s a tough situation because I’m not one of the guys that’s going to make the decision on that,” coach Jay Triano said. “And I think we’re going to be cautious more than anything else. With where we are and where he in this franchise history, I think it makes sense to be cautious.”
  • With Booker returning soon and rookie guard Davon Reed expected back around the first of the year, the Suns chose to waive a player from their backcourt rather than seek a buyout with Greg Monroe, Bordow adds. Monroe sat out three straight games before playing 27 minutes Thursday, but was back on the bench tonight. However, Triano wants to keep him around for depth so Tyson Chandler won’t have to play on back-to-back nights.
  • Monroe hasn’t given up hope of returning to the rotation and has played pretty well when given the chance, Bordow notes in a separate piece. He is averaging 11.2 points and 8.3 rebounds and is shooting better than 60% from the field in 11 games since being acquired from Milwaukee. “I want to play,” Monroe said. “But I’m just trying to control what I can. That’s all I focus on. But it definitely is hard. I’d definitely like to be playing consistently.”

Booker, Len Want Suns To Retain Jay Triano

The Suns have gone just 11-18 since Jay Triano took over as the club’s interim head coach in October, but his performance on the sidelines has impressed multiple Suns players, including standout guard Devin Booker. As Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic details, Booker says he’d like to see Triano assume the job on a permanent basis.

“Me and Triano have that relationship. He’s somebody I’m comfortable with and somebody I’ve been around for a long time,” Booker said. “I love Triano. I don’t make those calls, but he’s been doing a wonderful job since he’s been here and I would vouch for him. He’s been really good.”

Booker isn’t the only young Sun who has become a bigger fan of Triano in recent weeks. Fifth-year center Alex Len, who re-signed with the club this past offseason, said that he loves playing for the team’s interim head coach.

“Jay is always putting in new things. He’s very creative offensively,” Len said. “It’s not that we’re even better from the first three games. We’re better than we were a couple of weeks ago. He’s doing a great job.”

Players’ opinions aren’t always weighed heavily by a team’s front office when it comes to head coaching decisions. However, as Bordow observes, Booker’s stance shouldn’t be understated. The 21-year-old will become extension-eligible in 2018 for the first time, at which point he and the Suns figure to reach a lucrative, long-term agreement. It will be important that the centerpiece of the club’s rebuild is on the same page as the new head coach.

When the Suns fired Earl Watson and installed Triano as the interim head coach in October, the assumption was that they’d survey their options at season’s end. Triano is expected to be among the candidates, but if he makes a strong enough impression this season, perhaps the club will forgo a full-fledged search in the spring.

Pacific Notes: Rivers, Booker, Hill

Injury woes continue to plague the Clippers and the most recent victim of the team’s misfortune is guard Austin Rivers. Per an ESPN report, Rivers suffered a concussion in the second quarter of Los Angeles’ Wednesday night win.

Rivers took an elbow to the head in the waning seconds of the first half and did not return for the Clippers. He has already been ruled out for Friday’s contest.

Rivers has been enjoying a career year with the Clippers, averaging 14.5 points and 3.4 assists through 26 games. The 25-year-old has stepped up as an offensive weapon on the short-staffed team, cracking the 20-point plateau five times already this season.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division today:

  • The Suns are hoping to get Devin Booker back in the lineup before December 29, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic tweets. That means he could be in the lineup on Boxing Day. Earlier this month, Booker strained his left adductor and was expected to miss two-to-three weeks.
  • Recently added Kings guard George Hill understands that his role with his new team will fluctuate over the course of the season. While he’s scored 16 or more points six times in 24 games this season he’s scored six or fewer nine times. “That’s the rotation coach wants to go with,” Hill told Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. “You’ve got to respect that he’s trying put the young guys in situations where they can learn and things like that. Whatever he asks me to do, I’ve been trying to do it to the best of my ability.
  • Second-year Suns forward Marquese Chriss returned to his hometown of Sacramento for a contest against the team that drafted him. Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes that the forward preferred to not play for the Kings and was happy when Phoenix acquired him on draft day. “I’m the type of person I want to do stuff on my own,” Chriss said. “Just kind of expand what I’m learning instead of staying in the same environment. I’m grateful that they did trade me. I think I’m in a better situation for myself and my career.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Booker, Jordan

When Stephen Curry and the Warriors brought Kevin Durant to the Bay Area they did so with situations like the one the team is going through right now in mind. Marcus Thompson of The Athletic writes that having Durant available to lead the way while Curry recovers from an ankle injury can be a game changer for the franchise.

Prior to Durant’s arrival, the Warriors struggled to win with Curry on the sidelines, let alone dominate. Having the two available to support each other – as Curry did when Durant was out toward the end of last season – could extend both of their primes.

As Thompson writes, we may not remember this particular stretch of games where Durant filled in for Curry but the fact that we’ve seen the two stars willingly share the offensive load at different times over the course of the past two seasons will benefit the team for years.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • While he’s still expected to miss two-to-three weeks with an abductor strain, Suns guard Devin Booker is already up and walking, Jose Romero of the Associated Press writes.
  • The Clippers may look to move DeAndre Jordan at the deadline if they’re not pleased with their chances of competing in the Western Conference. This ESPN Insider piece explores four possible trade scenarios, including one that would see Jordan land with the Bucks in exchange for Jabari Parker, Thon Maker and Matthew Dellavedova.
  • Former Raptors coach Jay Triano has the personality to develop young basketball players, something that will come in handy as he serves as the interim head coach of the Suns. DeMar DeRozan witnessed as much during the coach’s tenure in Toronto from 2002-11. “There’s a personality about Jay that’s so positive, it makes you want to be at work, makes you want to do all the things that he asks from you,” DeRozan told Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. “[He’s] kind of a player’s coach. The things he was doing, it was so long ago and I was so young, I didn’t understand. I thought the whole league was like that. Now looking back on it, Jay was definitely one of them guys.”

Devin Booker Expected To Miss 2-3 Weeks

Suns guard Devin Booker, who left the team’s loss to Toronto on Tuesday with a left adductor strain, is expected to be sidelined for the next two or three weeks, the team announced today (via Twitter). That timetable would put Booker on track to return to the court sometime before the new year.

While the Suns have looked better under interim head coach Jay Triano than they did to start the season under Earl Watson, it has still been an uphill battle for the club, which has dealt with injuries to multiple rotation players and traded Eric Bledsoe last month. The Suns’ 9-17 record is the fifth-worst in the NBA, and that mark is unlikely to improve while Booker remains out of action.

Booker, 21, had been enjoying a career year for the Suns so far this season, establishing new career highs in PPG (24.3), APG (4.1), RPG (4.5), FG% (.453), 3PT% (.383), and several other categories, despite not playing fewer minutes per game than he did last season.

Booker joins Alan Williams, Brandon Knight, and Davon Reed on the injured list for the Suns, but even with four players sidelined, Phoenix won’t immediately qualify for a hardship provision, which would allow the team to temporarily carry a 16th player on its roster.

The rules for the hardship exception dictate that Booker would have to miss at least three consecutive games before Phoenix becomes eligible. So while the Suns may eventually apply for an injury exception, they won’t be able to use it immediately to convert Mike James‘ two-way contract to an NBA deal, as GM Ryan McDonough confirmed today (Twitter link via Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic). James is set to reach the 45-day NBA limit for two-way players.

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