Devin Booker

Suns Notes: Chandler, Canaan, Crawford, Ayton

At 36, Tyson Chandler may seem out of place on the rebuilding Suns, but he remains focused on providing the best possible example for his young teammates, writes Gina Mizell of The Athletic. Chandler, who is beginning his 18th NBA season, admits the process of getting ready is much different now than when he entered the league in 2001.

“When I was a rookie, I just had a bunch of nervous energy. You’re young and you can move all over the place,” he said. “Now everything is precise. Everything has a time. Even energy output, you just kind of measure everything you do now in this league. I used to get so pumped up. Now it’s all mental where I analyze what’s going on.”

Even so, Chandler isn’t ready to give up the NBA lifestyle. He hopes to reach at least 20 years in the league, although with an expiring contract that may happen somewhere other than Phoenix. He will help mentor No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton for now and may be a popular target at the trade deadline among teams that need frontcourt depth.

There’s more today out of Phoenix:

  • After experimenting with several options at point guard during the preseason, Isaiah Canaan will be the starter in tonight’s season opener, Mizell tweets. Coach Igor Kokoskov indicated that Devin Booker may finish out games at the position in an effort to get the best offensive lineup on the court.
  • Jamal Crawford finalized his contract with the Suns just in time for tonight’s game and is eager to get started with his new team. In a video posted by The Arizona Republic, the 38-year-old expressed confidence that Phoenix is moving in the right direction. “I feel re-energized, to be honest with you,” Crawford said. “I just like what the organization’s doing. I like the moves they’re making. I love the young players, I love the vets they brought in, so I’m excited.” Crawford said Kokoskov just asked him to be the same type of player he has been throughout his career.
  • Booker believes the addition of Ayton provides the chance to build a winner, relays Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Although Booker has blossomed into one of the NBA’s best young players, the Suns haven’t been competitive since he arrived. “It’s a start of his legacy,” Booker said of Ayton. “His new career. My job is to make it special for him and not make it like my first three years. So turn it around. Let him be known as a winner. Let our whole organization turn around to a winning franchise.”

Pacific Notes: Booker, Suns, Clippers, House

When Devin Booker underwent surgery on his injured last hand in September, the Suns estimated that it would take six weeks for him to recover and return to the court. Based on that timeline, Booker would miss the first week of the regular season, but the 21-year-old is still aiming to get back on the court for Phoenix’s season opener, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link).

The Suns’ season will begin next Wednesday night when the team hosts the Mavericks in what has been billed as a showdown between two of this year’s top rookies, Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic.

As Booker looks to beat his recovery timetable, here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • The Suns cleaned house in their front office on Monday, with a team source confirming to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link) that Louis Lehman, the GM of Phoenix’s G League affiliate, was fired. GM Ryan McDonough, assistant GM Pat Connelly and director of scouting Courtney Witte were among the other executives let go by the club.
  • The Clippers‘ success in 2018/19 may hinge in large part on the health of Avery Bradley, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Bradley, who re-signed with the Clips over the summer, only has a small partial guarantee on the second year of his new contract, so he may return to the free agent market in 2019 if he’s slowed by injuries again.
  • With Patrick McCaw still unsigned, there may be an opportunity for Danuel House to earn a regular season roster spot with the Warriors. Anthony Slater of The Athletic (subscription required) takes a closer look at House’s case for a place on the 15-man squad.
  • After initially reaching a free agent agreement with Philadelphia, Nemanja Bjelica changed course and inked a three-year deal with the Kings. Now, he’s showing off his ability to open up the floor for his new team, as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee details.

Pacific Notes: Booker, Bender, Gilgeous-Alexander, Lakers

Devin Booker is making rapid progress in his recovery from surgery on his right hand last month, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. The Suns‘ leading scorer was shooting with his right hand on Wednesday after having his splint removed. He had an operation September 10 to fix the fifth metacarpophalangeal joint on the hand.

However, Booker still hasn’t been cleared for contact and Phoenix isn’t sure if he’ll be ready in time for the season opener.

“We’re just following the steps,” said coach Igor Kokoskov. “That’s not my jurisdiction. I know nothing about when it comes to medical science. The medical staff, we have one of the best in the league. They’re going to tell us when the next steps are. We’re going to follow those steps being disciplined and wait for him to make the recovery and to play.”

There’s more this morning from the Pacific Division:

  • Dragan Bender‘s poor play continued in Wednesday’s exhibition game against New Zealand, Rankin adds in a separate story. The Suns didn’t use Bender until the fourth quarter and he committed a couple of costly mistakes, fouling a player shooting a 3-pointer and mishandling a pass. Richaun Holmes, who was acquired from the Sixers in an offseason deal, got more minutes than Bender did.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a serious candidate for playing time in the Clippers‘ crowded backcourt, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. The rookie made a quick impact off the bench in the preseason opener with 10 points, four steals and four assists in 24 minutes of a win over Sydney. He was L.A.’s only young player to see significant time in the game. “I thought in the first half he was fantastic,” coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought in the second half he was still catching his breath from the first half. Good lesson for him because they don’t back off, teams keep coming.”
  • The Lakers aren’t a lock for the playoffs despite adding LeBron James, cautions Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. He predicts L.A. will fail to reach the postseason, citing the number of good teams in the Western Conference, the Lakers’ shortcomings at center, defensive issues, injury concerns involving James and the possibility that some veterans will be unhappy with their playing time.

Contract Notes: Jokic, Gordon, Nurkic, Jazz

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic didn’t technically sign a maximum-salary contract when he re-upped with the club this summer, but he can increase his 2018/19 earnings to the maximum if he helps lead Denver to postseason success.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks details (subscription required), Jokic is one of several NBA players with incentives in their contracts for the coming season. In Jokic’s case, he’s currently about $862K shy of his maximum salary, but he can earn $431K if the Nuggets advance to the playoffs, and another $431K if they win in the first round.

Here are a few more details from Marks on this season’s incentives and bonuses:

  • Aaron Gordon has a potential path to an All-Star nod in an Eastern Conference that lost more top talent this offseason. Gordon’s new contract with the Magic calls for a $500K bonus if he’s named an All-Star, per Marks. He could also further increase his earnings by being named to the All-NBA and All-Defense teams at season’s end.
  • Jusuf Nurkic can earn an extra $1.25MM this season if he appears in 70 games and the Trail Blazers crack the 50-win threshold, according to Marks. Nurkic played in 79 games last season, but because Portland only had 49 wins, this incentive is considered unlikely and doesn’t currently count against Nurkic’s cap hit.
  • Davis Bertans has to meet several criteria in order to earn a $250K bonus on his new contract with the Spurs — the veteran forward must play in 70 games, make 165 three-pointers, and average 6.5 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes, as Marks details.
  • Dante Exum, Raul Neto, and Derrick Favors all have incentives on their new deals with the Jazz, with a focus on games played — they all must appear in at least 67 games to start earning their bonuses. Favors, in particular, has plenty riding on his performance, as he can earn $2.8MM in incentives. Of those incentives, $900K are considered likely and already count against his cap charge.
  • Marks also notes that several players will have a chance to become eligible for super-max contracts with their current clubs if they make All-NBA teams this season. That list includes Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Draymond Green (Warriors), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), and Kemba Walker (Hornets). Additionally, Devin Booker‘s new extension with the Suns would start at 27.5% of the cap if he’s named to the All-NBA Third Team, 28.5% if he’s named to the Second Team, and 30% for First Team.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Lakers, Booker, Labissiere

The Kings have made two additions to their basketball operations staff, according to James Ham of NBC Sports.

Adam Filippi has joined the team as the Director of Pro Scouting. He most recently served as the Director of Global Scouting with the Hornets, and will be based out of Los Angeles covering the Southeast Region.

Sacramento also hired Anthony Darmiento as the Assistant Performance Coach. Darmiento will work alongside Head Performance & Strength Coach Ramsey Nijem this season, and holds experience in similar roles with USA Volleyball, USA Water Polo and the USA Olympic Committee.

There’s more out of the Pacific division:

 

Injury Updates: Porzingis, Booker, Cousins, Neto

Kristaps Porzingis offered an update on his condition at the Knicks‘ Media Day, but there’s still no timetable for him to start playing again, relays the Associated Press.

Porzingis has been doing some light running, but not sprinting, as he continues to recover from a torn ACL he suffered in February. The Knicks are being cautious with the rehab process and don’t want him to return to action until they are sure he is fully ready.

Porzingis adds that he isn’t concerned about getting a contract extension done quickly. He will have to wait until next summer for an extension if a deal isn’t reached before the start of the season.

There’s more injury news to pass along:

  • Devin Booker got sutures removed from his right hand last week and is using a splint during workouts, Suns GM Ryan McDonough said today, per Gina Mizell of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team is still hoping Booker can be ready for opening night.
  • The Warriors plan to re-evaluate free agent addition DeMarcus Cousins again in four weeks, tweets Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News. Team president Bob Myers is happy with the progress Cousins has made, saying, “We won’t rush him. But we also won’t hold him back.”
  • Jazz guard Raul Neto has been diagnosed with a right hamstring injury and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, according to a tweet from the team.
  • Hawks guard Justin Anderson is still recovering from surgery in late June to address recurring tibial stress syndrome in his left leg and won’t be ready for the start of training camp, the team announced on its website. Dewayne Dedmon will also be held out as he recovers from an avulsion fracture in his left ankle. He is in his second week of weight-bearing rehab work. Daniel Hamilton is taking a non-surgical approach to a torn rotator cuff and his progress will be reviewed in a week. Jeremy Lin has recovered from the ruptured patella tendon that caused him to miss nearly all of last season and will start camp with limited restrictions. Rookie Omari Spellman has soft tissue inflammation in his left shin and will be held out for the next seven to 10 days.

Western Notes: Suns, McCollum, Jazz, Middleton

The Suns used a portion of their room exception to sign De’Anthony Melton to his first NBA contract, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Without using that exception, Phoenix would only have been able to offer Melton a first-year salary of $838K. Instead, the Suns were able to bump that figure to $949K. They still have $3.5MM of their room exception available.

Meanwhile, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders indicates (via Twitter) that while Devin Booker‘s new extension with the Suns is projected to start at 25% of the cap in 2019/20, there are triggers in the deal that could push that figure higher. Pincus isn’t sure of the specific details, but reports that Booker could get 27.5%, 28.5%, or 30% of the cap if he meets certain criteria. I’d guess that those criteria are related to whether he earns spots on the first, second, or third All-NBA teams.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • C.J. McCollum is often the subject of trade speculation, but the Trail Blazers guard tells Michael Scotto of The Athletic that he’d welcome a long-term stay in Portland. “I’m forever grateful for the opportunities they’ve given me and would love to be a Blazer for life,” McCollum said.
  • While it may be a little early to start speculating about 2019’s free agent period, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune suggests (via Twitter) that Bucks wing Khris Middleton is a player the Jazz like a lot. With Ricky Rubio, Alec Burks, and others on expiring deals this season, Utah could have plenty of cap flexibility next summer.
  • As Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com details, Jahlil Okafor said there were a “multitude of reasons” for him to sign with the Pelicans, calling the decision a “no-brainer.” Keith Smith of RealGM.com (Twitter link) hears that New Orleans was comfortable with waiving Emeka Okafor in part due to how good Jahlil has looked. “He’s in amazing shape, and he’s going hard on both ends too,” Smith’s source said. “Seems like he really gets it now.”
  • The Timberwolves recently announced some additions and promotions on their coaching staff, including Pat Zipfel as an advance scout and Malik Allen and Larry Greer as assistant coaches (link via Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune).

Pacific Notes: Booker, Labissiere, Kuzma

The Suns have had a tough go of it over the course of the past three seasons. Now that they finally boast an intriguing young core, however, things may have hit a minor snag. Greg Moore of the Arizona Republic wonders if Devin Booker‘s hand injury could spoil Phoenix’s season.

While there’s no guarantee that Booker even misses regular season time recovering from hand surgery, it’s a distinct possibility. In any event, the up-and-coming Suns star will miss training camp and preseason, that could mean it won’t be until part-way through the 2018-19 campaign that he starts building chemistry with vaunted No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton.

As Gina Mizell of The Athletic writes in a similar piece speculating about the impact Booker’s absence will have, she notes that the Suns could even begin the season without a clear-cut point guard on the roster.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • There’s no shortage of intriguing big men on the Kings roster but one oft-forgotten frontcourt project is Skal Labissiere. Kyle Ramos of the team’s official site writes that this offseason has been 22-year-old’s best since entering the NBA in 2016.
  • A much-improved physique will put Lakers sophomore Kyle Kuzma in position to break out in 2018-19, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype writes. The forward was a surprise success as a rookie last year and will look to make further progress after gaining strength in his shoulder and back.
  • There are plenty of things to like about what the Lakers did this offseason and projections for how they’ll fare in 2018-19 vary wildly. One question, James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders wonders, is whether or not the franchise will be able to resist the urge to shake up the roster with a trade if things don’t begin as expected in Los Angeles.

Devin Booker Undergoes Surgery, Out Six Weeks

Suns shooting guard Devin Booker underwent surgery on Monday to repair his broken right hand and will require approximately six weeks to recover, the team announced in a press release.

With Phoenix’s regular-season opener scheduled for October 17 against the Mavericks, Booker is unlikely to be available at the start of the campaign. The second or third week of the schedule is a more reasonable target.

Technically, Booker had fifth metacarpophalangeal joint in his right hand fixed by Dr. Steven Shin in Los Angeles.

Booker initially injured the hand last March, causing him to miss the final 12 games of the 2017/18 season. It’s uncertain why Booker waited until the brink of training camp to get the hand repaired.

Booker, who inked a five-year contract extension this summer for an estimated $158MM, averaged a team-high 24.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 4.7 APG in his third season, though he only played 54 games due to injuries.

Unless they swing a deal before opening night, the Suns will have an unimposing assortment of options at the guard spots until Booker returns. Phoenix has been hunting for a point guard since it dealt Brandon Knight to the Rockets.

The Suns have Elie Okobo, Shaquille Harrison and Isaiah Canaan competing for the point guard job until further notice. Rookie Mikal Bridges, Troy Daniels, Davon Reed and two-way George King are potential fill-ins for Booker at shooting guard.

Devin Booker To Undergo Hand Surgery, Out Indefinitely

7:59pm: Booker’s procedure will take place on Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets and the team will have a better idea of the guard’s availability for the regular season then.

6:58pm: According to John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, Suns guard Devin Booker will be out indefinitely as he undergoes surgery on his hand.

While no set timetable has been revealed, it’s likely that the 21-year-old misses the start of training camp.

For those keeping track at home, Booker initially injured the hand last March and it caused him to miss the final 12 games of the 2017/18 season. There’s no indication at this point as to why the guard elected to wait until September to make the decision to go under the knife.

Booker, the prolific combo guard charged with leading the franchise’s rebuild, will hit the sidelines just weeks after the club dealt Brandon Knight to the Rockets, creating a vacancy at point guard.

The Suns, who are said to be on the hunt for guards, will need to address the dearth of playmakers sooner than later if it looks like Booker’s injury could stretch into the regular season.

Booker inked a five-year contract extension this summer for an estimated $158MM.