Devin Booker

And-Ones: Extension Candidates, BIG3, Sports Betting

With the NBA postseason set to tip off this weekend an equally intriguing offseason draws nearer. Recently, Keith Smith of RealGM took a nice, long look at the upcoming batch of players eligible to sign rookie contract extensions after July 1.

While some players like Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker are no-brainers for rich contract extensions, other players like Kristaps Porzingis and Myles Turner are intriguing cases.

Porzingis, Smith writes, could be a candidate for a conditional contract extension similar to the one Joel Embiid signed last summer. Turner, meanwhile, proved himself a worthy NBA starter early in his career but has dealt with injury setbacks of his own in the time since.

A number of the top lottery picks in the 2015 draft class aren’t likely to sign significant extensions, if they’re even eligible to do so at all. Two of the top five picks – Jahlil Okafor and Mario Hezonja – didn’t even have the fourth-year of their rookie deals picked up.

For a breakdown of all 30 first-round picks, how they fared through their first three seasons in the NBA and whether or not you can expect them to hit the restricted market in 2019, be sure to check out Smith’s full piece.

There’s more from around the NBA.

  • With discussion over the legalization of sports betting a hot topic these days, the NBA Player’s Association has issued a statement, urging consideration for players’ rights ahead of any consequent negotiations over associated fees. Ben Fawkes of ESPN has the latest about the pressing issue while Chris Crouse of Hoops Rumors confirms that the NBA is open to having the union involved.
  • The BIG3 held its offseason draft last night in preparation for the league’s second season set to begin on June 22. Andre Owens, an international journeyman who played sparingly with the Jazz and Pacers over a decade ago was the first overall pick. Notable NBA alums, including Jason Maxiell, Quentin Richardson, the original Mike James and Bonzi Wells were also taken over the course of three rounds. Josh Peters of USA Today has a full breakdown of the draft.
  • The NBA draft order is set, ahead of the May 15th lottery that is. We broke down what happened when a series of tiebreakers decided the fates of 12 impacted teams.

Suns Rumors: Coaching Search, Booker, Knight

As we relayed earlier today, the Suns reached out to former assistant Dan Majerle to see if he’d have interest in the head coaching position in Phoenix, but were turned down. Despite Majerle’s lack of interest, the club should have no shortage of candidates for the position. GM Ryan McDonough said this week that there are at least five to 10 names on the Suns’ list of targets, per Bob Baum of The Arizona Republic.

While it’s not clear just how quickly the Suns intend to conduct interviews and narrow down their list of candidates, McDonough said that he’d like to have a head coach in place before the draft combine and lottery in May. The lottery is scheduled for May 15, with the combine to follow from May 16-20, so we can probably count on the Suns making a hire within the next month or so.

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • In the wake of another losing season, Devin Booker says he’s “done with not making the playoffs,” as Baum details. “I’m serious. This is probably my last year ever not making the playoffs. If that’s putting pressure on myself, I’m going to take this summer and work that hard so that it doesn’t happen again.”
  • Speaking of Booker, he’ll become extension-eligible for the first time this offseason. While the standout guard didn’t formally commit to inking a new deal in the coming months, he dismissed the speculation that he’s unhappy in Phoenix, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. “Don’t believe in nonsense,” Booker said. “With TV, they need something to talk about. I’ve always mentioned since my first day here that I fell in love with this city, I fell in love with the fan base and the dedication they showed to the team.”
  • Brandon Knight is looking forward to getting back on the court in 2018/19 after missing the entire 2016/17 season with a torn ACL, Baum writes. Knight still has two fully guaranteed seasons on his contract, so he figures to be a part of the Suns’ rotation going forward. “I’m just trying to help the Suns in any way I can,” Knight said this week.
  • Having finished first in the lottery standings, the Suns are assured of a top-four pick in the first round of this year’s draft. McDonough said this week that he wouldn’t trade that selection unless it’s for a young superstar, tweets Bordow.

Suns Notes: Jones, Booker, Cousins

Fourteen-year NBA veteran James Jones hasn’t had much time to acclimate to his new role as vice president of basketball operations for the Suns but, as Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes, the 37-year-old has fallen in love with the position just one year removed from his playing career.

Jones, who focuses on player development while team general manager Ryan McDonough tackles scouting, believes that the club is closer to winning than their record suggests and implies that they need to surround their solid young core with players committed to winning.

Our young guys have talent that needs to be realized,” Jones said. “I think we need to challenge them to be better, to be great and to continue to put them in a winning environment and surround them with players that want to win at all costs and raise the bar for them from a performance and conditioning standpoint.

If taken at face value, the club could be looking to take the next step in its rebuild, progressing from the asset accumulation stage that saw them acquire valuable young players like Devin Booker and Josh Jackson to the stage of actually starting to build a winning environment.

The Suns have failed to win 25 games in each of the past three seasons, so a conscious commitment to winning would be a notable development.

We’ll look to add guys that bring that type of mentality but also we have to create it internally by putting our guys in tough situations, putting our guys in strategic situations that will test their mental toughness, test their level of competitiveness and push them and reveal who they are,” he said.

There’s more out of Phoenix tonight:

  • The Suns were said to have an interest in DeMarcus Cousins when he came available for trade during the 2016/17 season. This summer he’ll be a free agent and HoopsHype’s Bryan Kalbrosky suggests that Phoenix, replete with several other former Kentucky Wildcats, could once again explore such an option.
  • Count Devin Booker among those confident that the Suns will be aggressive this offseason. “This summer is a big summer for us,” Booker told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “You hear our GM come out and say he’s going to be super aggressive. We have young talent, we have a lot of picks, with a lot of money too. So I think there’s definitely going to be a lot of moves made this summer.
  • The Suns have a pile of interesting young assets and a mandate to capitalize on them so expect an interesting summer in the desert. Did you know that you can get a sneak peek at any rumors that start to swirl in the weeks leading up to the much anticipated 2018 offseason? Follow our Phoenix Suns page or, if you’re using the Trade Rumors app, add the dedicated team feed to your account.

Pacific Notes: Ayton, Wear, Caruso, Fox, Thomas

Potential top pick DeAndre Ayton indicated during a radio interview that he and Devin Booker could form a duo similar to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant during their Lakers years if he winds up with the Suns, the team’s SB Nation blog The Bright Side tweets“Honestly, I could see myself in Phoenix,” the University of Arizona freshman center said in a CBS Sports Radio interview. “I could see a little Shaq and Kobe 2.0.” The Suns currently have the worst record in the league and will likely remain there. If they get the No. 1 selection, they could draft Ayton and then trade the first-rounders owed to them by the Heat and Bucks to move up and draft a point guard, according to Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. If they fall to the No. 2 pick and Ayton is off the board, they would be happy to land Euro guard Luke Doncic and then move those same picks to get frontcourt help, Bordow adds.

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers have been forced to recall forward Travis Wear and guard Alex Caruso during the G League playoffs due to injuries, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register  notes. They will likely stay with the Lakers for their game against the Jazz on Tuesday if Brandon Ingram is still recovering from a concussion and Lonzo Ball remains sidelined with a knee contusion.
  • The Kings want to see rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox take ownership of the team and become a better playmaker during the remaining games, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports. Fox needs to realize he can impact the game without having a hot shooting night, coach Dave Joerger told Jones. “He’s got to demand from the rest of his team that he’s the leader, and going forward, set the tone for what he’s looking for,” Joerger said. “And get the ball out faster, or ‘give me some space and I’ll get you a shot.’ Those kinds of things where you go to the next level of leadership or you can kind of just finish the season.” 
  • Lakers guard Isaiah Thomas will be represented once again by Excel Sports Management, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. Sam Goldfeder will be his agent, Mullen adds. Excel had been representing Thomas before signing with Goodwin Sports last fall.

Pacific Notes: Ingram, Booker, Gallinari, Warriors

Lakers forward Brandon Ingram was diagnosed today with a concussion and has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. The injury Ingram suffered Friday in Milwaukee was initially believed to be a neck muscle contusion, and preliminary concussion tests came up negative.

Ingram was hit in the neck in the third quarter, but didn’t tell the training staff about his symptoms until overtime, according to Bill Oram of the SoCal News Group (Twitter link).

The Lakers will once again be without the dynamic second-year forward, who was playing his second game after missing 12 in a row with an injured groin. He is averaging 16.1 points in 59 games and shooting .390 from 3-point range.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns may have a new coach next season, but Devin Booker places a higher priority on who’s on the court than who’s running the team, relays Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Booker believes coaching won’t be a concern if the talent level is upgraded. “I’ve had three coaches since I’ve been here and I’ve never blamed anything on one of the coaches as an individual,” Booker said. “I’ve had great relationships with all the coaches. I think the NBA just overall, when you need somebody to blame the first person that you go to is the coach. But at the end of the day you need the right players that match each other. Not just the best players. Chemistry helps.”
  • Booker refused to say if he stands by a statement he made in October that he would sign a five-year, $156MM extension if the Suns offered it this summer, Bordow adds in the same story. “I mean, that’s a whole other discussion,” Booker said. “A lot goes into that. When that time comes I’ll have to make a decision. … I’ve always said this is the place I want to be so if everything works out, yeah.”
  • Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari still had pain in his right hand as he returned to the court Friday, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. He played 24 minutes and scored 11 points, but played with black tape wrapped around the hand. Gallinari had missed 18 games with a non-displaced fracture. “Listen, he was OK,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He was better in the second half. I thought his rhythm may have upset other rhythms. You never know. We need him, and we’re going to use him.”
  • Klay Thompson‘s expected return for tonight’s game will result in the Warriors’ 26th different starting lineup of the season, notes Darryl Matsuda of The San Jose Mercury News.

Suns Notes: Booker, Draft, Canaan, Coaching Candidates

The question of whether to give Devin Booker a maximum extension is easy, but convincing him to wait another year may not be, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Booker will be eligible for an $157MM extension this summer that would start his annual salary at about $27MM. However, there are benefits for the Suns in waiting for 2019, and they have to convince Booker it’s best for him as well.

Because Booker wasn’t drafted in the top 10 in 2015, he would have a $9.9MM cap hold next summer, roughly $17MM less than his salary under an extension. Phoenix has the potential to be a player in the 2019 free agent market, with roughly $35MM to $40MM available once contracts expire for Tyson Chandler and Chris Dudley. However, if Booker insists on an extension this year, that number would be cut roughly in half.

Marks recommends negotiating with Booker as though he were a free agent the Suns are trying to recruit. He says GM Ryan McDonough and his team should present a salary-cap breakdown and a list of potential 2019 free agent signees to Booker’s representatives, explaining why it’s in his long-term interests to have the best possible teammates around him.

There’s more this morning out of Phoenix:

  • The Suns should explore moving up in the draft to make sure they can fill their two greatest needs, Marks adds in the same piece. With Phoenix holding the top spot in our latest Reverse Standings, the franchise is in good position to land a center early in the draft. With first-rounders also coming from Miami and Milwaukee, Marks believes the team should package its assets and try to get another pick in the top 10 to grab a point guard, possibly Alabama’s Collin Sexton.
  • Isaiah Canaan is making rapid progress in his recovery from a dislocated left ankle, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Canaan, who signed with Phoenix in mid-December, played just 19 games before suffering the season-ending injury January 31. He has progressed past crutches and an ankle boot and hopes to be fully recovered in time for training camp in September. “I’m at home sitting around and thinking, ‘Wow, just two months ago I had two right feet and now I’m walking around doing strength training,’” Canaan said. “Obviously all the strength is not there yet but I’m feeling fine.”
  • In a separate story, Bordow lists David Fizdale, Jason Kidd and Villanova’s Jay Wright as potential candidates to be the Suns’ next coach.

Injury Notes: Thomas, Paul, Booker, Simmons

The hip injury that caused Lakers guard Isaiah Thomas to miss nearly the first half of the season appears to be acting up again, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. Thomas woke up this morning with stiffness in his right hip and will be held out of the final two games of the team’s road trip.

Thomas first suffered the injury last year in Boston, and the Cavaliers held him out of the first 36 games of this season while he was recovering. The latest flare-up could be a warning sign for any team interested in the 29-year-old guard when he becomes a free agent this summer.

There’s more news on the NBA injury front:

  • Down to eight players for tonight’s game, the Lakers will get some help tomorrow when two-way player Gary Payton II joins the team after the G League regular season ends. However, fellow two-way contract holder Alex Caruso is sidelined by a concussion, according to Bill Oram of The SoCal News Group (Twitter link).
  • Rockets guard Chris Paul will be held out of tonight’s game, but could return tomorrow, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Coach Mike D’Antoni said Paul is making progress after hurting his hamstring Tuesday night.
  • Devin Booker will miss his fourth straight game tonight with a sprained right hand, but coach Jay Triano is optimistic that he can play Monday, tweets Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). T.J. Warren is missing his third consecutive game with left knee inflammation after a non-contact injury last Saturday (Twitter link).
  • Magic swingman Jonathon Simmons, who has missed the past two games with a right wrist contusion, will probably be held out another week, relays Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).
  • Bulls guard Kris Dunn remains in a walking boot with a toe injury, but was able to exercise today on an elliptical machine, reports K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Swelling has gone down and he will join the team on its upcoming road trip, but coach Fred Hoiberg said Dunn will need to be “reconditioned” if the team doesn’t shut him down for the rest of the season.

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.”