Devin Booker

Suns Exercise Options On Booker, Bender, Chriss

The Suns have exercised teams options on the contracts of Devin Booker, Dragan Bender, and Marquese Chriss, according to their website. The trio will remain under contract through the 2018/19 season.

Booker, who was the no. 13 overall pick in the 2015 draft, broke out last season, scoring 22.1 points per game in the Suns’ fast-paced offense. The Kentucky product will make approximately $2.32MM this season and as a result of the team picking up his option, he’ll take home $3.31MM next year.

Bender’s 2018/19 team option is worth roughly $4.67MM and Chriss’ will come in at slightly under $3.21MM. The team controls each player for at minimum two additional two seasons beyond the 2018/19 campaign. Each of the big men’s contracts has another team option in it for the 2019/20 season and if exercised, the team can extend a qualifying offer to each player during the following offseason, rendering them restricted free agents.

Booker can become a restricted free agent during the summer of 2019, though I would expect the team to make an attempt at extending the shooting guard next summer. Per the team’s website, among all players with two years of experience under the age of 21, only LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant have scored more than Booker’s 2,774 total points.

Pacific Notes: Griffin, Booker, Chandler, Lakers

Blake Griffin signed a long-term deal to stay with the Clippers this past offseason and when he signed on the dotted line, he became the undisputed face of a revamped franchise. Longtime point guard Chris Paul was traded to the Rockets, ending an era that saw the Clippers as perennial playoff contenders but also a team that never advanced past the first round.

In an interview with ESPN’s Sam Alipour, Griffin addressed the Clippers’ changed roster but said that change is not always a bad thing.

“I don’t know. You never want to blow up something like that — you have All-Stars in CP and DJ [DeAndre Jordan], great pieces like J.J. RedickJamal Crawford, Griffin said. “But at the same time, we haven’t had success, so a shake-up doesn’t hurt.”

With a five-year, $173MM deal keeping Griffin in Los Angeles, he said that he will take on a stronger leadership role. Despite losing Paul, the team still has talent that can lead the team to the playoffs.

“Yeah, I led by example, but I’ll be more outspoken this year,” he said. “Over the years, I’ve learned that leaders aren’t always popular. You have to say things people don’t necessarily want to hear.”

Read up on other news coming out of the Pacific Division below:

Heat Notes: Richardson, Olynyk, Ellington

A pair of Heat forwards who spent much of the 2016/17 campaign on the sidelines will be competing hard for a starting role, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Expect Josh Richardson to put up a fight for a shot at the three, while Dion Waiters fills in at shooting guard.

Of course Richardson’s path on the depth chart is blocked by Justise Winslow, another individual expected to compete like crazy for the role, and to an extent, Rodney McGruder.

Last season Richardson averaged 10.2 points per game while Winslow added 10.9 of his own. In addition to modest offense both players provide length and versatility.

Wherever [Erik Spoelstra] wants to take this positionless game, it can be real small, with him playing five on down to three point guards with Justise at four [or three bigs],” team president Pat Riley said.

There’s more out of Miami this evening:

  • A Boston beat writer isn’t all that impressed with some of the contracts on Miami’s payroll but A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England does add that the addition of sharpshooting Kelly Olynyk could bode well for the Heat considering Hassan Whiteside‘s lack of an outside game.
  • The Heat have gotten flak from fans for taking Justise Winslow ahead of Devin Booker in the 2015 NBA Draft but Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel reminds readers that there isn’t much point to looking back on such situations in hindsight, especially considering the club had Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on board at the time as well.
  • The Heat were fortunate to have Wayne Ellington step up and play a significant part in their turnaround last season but the forward could see his role decrease slightly considering that Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow are expected to be back at full health, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Western Notes: Jackson, Harden, Muhammad, Wolves, Clippers Arena

Rumors of the Suns trading promising rookie Josh Jackson for Kyrie Irving should be put to rest, writes Greg Moore of AZCentral.com. Moore writes that Jackson and Devin Booker each create a sense of “awe and wonder,” making anyone who watches them dream of the future.

The Arizona-based scribe argues that the manner in which coach Earl Watson talks about Jackson comes off much more as genuine optimism for the future than big talk to boost trade value.

“I love Josh Jackson,” Watson said Monday. “Something about him is just uncommon.” Devin Booker, meanwhile, “always had that edge.” “(Those) two together are going to be great young guys who can push other guys to become better because they’re so inner competitive,” Watson said.

Watson joked in response to being asked about a rumor that Jackson had grown two inches since being drafted:  But “if he did, we love it, and even if he didn’t … let’s build the legend. Yeah, he grew. Absolutely. He’s like 7 feet now … anyone coming up against him should be intimidated by his constant growth vertically, in height, and ability to play above the rim.”

In a recent interview, Jackson addressed the trade talk, saying, “I think if that was going to happen, it would have happened by now.” However, he also said: “I’m going to make the best of whatever situation that I’m presented with. If I’m traded to China, whatever, I’m going to come out, and I’m going to be happy and just try to make the best of it.”

Here are more notes from the Western Conference:

  • James Harden is more fit and fired up than ever, writes Sam Amick of USA Today.  “I know how exciting this season is (going to be, and) I know how important it is, so I’m going to take full advantage of it. I have a lot of charity (events), a lot of things going on, but when I’m in that gym that’s kind of my getaway. That’s kind of when I’m locked in,” Harden said. The Rockets‘ 2017 postseason ended with concerns over Harden’s fatigue and stamina.
  • Shabazz Muhammad may have to settle for a short-term “prove-it” deal for next season, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. Heading into the offseason, coach Tom Thibodeau used the word “optimistic” when discussing re-signing Muhammad. However, in July, the wing’s rights were renounced. On Wednesday, Timberwolves signee Jamal Crawford tweeted Muhammad, “c’mon back home.”
  • The mayor of Inglewood and the four other council members unanimously approved a revised agreement with a Clippers-controlled company to shrink the four-block area where an arena could be built so homes and a church aren’t displaced, reports Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times. More than a dozen citizens had raised concerns about the potential arena before the vote took place.

Kyler’s Latest: Irving, Suns, Wolves, Melo, Rockets

As we enter the dog days of the NBA offseason, two All-Star trade candidates remain on the block — the Cavaliers and Knicks continue to explore trades involving Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony, respectively. Nothing appears imminent on either front, but Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders checks in on both situations to see where they stand, so let’s dive in and round up the highlights from Kyler…

  • The Cavaliers aren’t operating with a sense of urgency to find an Irving deal. One source from a team interested in Irving tells Kyler that Cleveland doesn’t seem to be operating with a deadline when it comes to getting something done. The source described the Cavs as still being in “fact-finding mode” at this point.
  • The Suns and Timberwolves are viewed as two strong candidates for Irving, but they’ve been reluctant to include Josh Jackson and Andrew Wiggins, respectively, and are unlikely to win out unless they relent on that stance. While Phoenix doesn’t want to move Jackson or Devin Booker, there’s a sense that anyone else on the roster could be had, says Kyler. That may not be enough for the Cavaliers, however.
  • The “prevailing thought in NBA circles” is that the long-rumored Anthony deal between the Knicks and Rockets isn’t going to happen unless Houston finds a way to improve its offer. As Kyler details, the idea of the Knicks accepting a package made up entirely of players they don’t view as long-term pieces isn’t “appealing or agreeable” to the team’s front office.
  • The Knicks seem as if they’re willing to bring Anthony to training camp if he doesn’t expand his list of preferred landing spots or if the Rockets don’t improve their offer, according to Kyler, who describes the Carmelo situation as “more like a standoff” than the Cavaliers‘ situation with Irving.

Latest On Kyrie Irving, Suns

The Cavaliers are working to honor Kyrie Irving‘s trade request and they’ve been in contact with his camp as they parse offers from interested teams, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com reports.

The Suns are among the teams to make Cavs an offer and a source tells Vardon that if Phoenix was willing to part with Eric Bledsoe, Josh Jackson, and a future first-round pick (Miami’s partially protected 2018 selection) that a deal would be “done by now.” While the two teams could certainly agree to that trade, league rules would prevent such an arrangement from occurring since Jackson cannot be dealt until 30 days after he signed his rookie contract. The Kansas product put pen to paper on July 3.

Phoenix is reportedly unwilling to surrender Jackson in a deal for Irving and it’s unknown what the franchise is actually offering for the point guard. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link) speculates Cleveland does send Irving to the Suns that a package of Bledsoe, T.J. Warren and potentially Marquese Chriss would be the likeliest haul. Kyler believes Phoenix would have to take back Iman Shumpert in that scenario.

The Cavs and Suns could certainly work out a deal involving different parameters, but it’s clear that any variation of an Irving trade will not include Devin Booker. A source tells Vardon that the shooting guard was told by the team that he won’t be dealt.

Trade Rumors: Jackson, George, Porzingis, Kanter

Numerous teams are trying to obtain a top-4 pick in order to select Kansas swingman Josh Jackson, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets. With the Sixers having obtained the top overall pick to select Markelle Fultz, that means a blockbuster deal involving the Lakers, Celtics or Suns could be on the horizon. It also strongly suggests that the Celtics have settled on Duke forward Jayson Tatum as their preferred choice, since Jackson wouldn’t be available at No. 4 if Boston wants him.

Here are some of other trade rumors floating around as the draft approaches:

  • There is a growing sense that unless the Pacers get a suitable offer for Paul George today, President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard will wait until next month to re-engage talks regarding the 2018 free agent, according to Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler. However, the latest projected salary cap of $99MM could motivate Indiana and the Lakers to get a deal done today, as Kyler details. The Spurs and Blazers are also making a run at George, Kyler adds in another tweet.
  • The Knicks believe Kristaps Porzingis would have been the top selection in today’s draft and next year’s draft and desire a package of picks that reflect his value, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets. Team President Phil Jackson confirmed Wednesday he is listening to offers for the disgruntled big man. Talks between the Knicks and Suns have not gained any traction because Phoenix is unwilling to part with shooting guard Devin Booker, Wojnarowski tweets.
  • The Thunder could deal center Enes Kanter as early as today, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman speculates. The team has enough big men to take over his minutes, though Kanter is the most offensively-gifted frontcourt player they have, Carlson continues. It makes sense to obtain more shooters and veterans to help out Russell Westbrook, which makes Kanter expendable, Carlson adds. Kanter will make approximately $17.9MM next season and holds an $18.6MM player option on the final year of his contract next summer.

Latest On Kristaps Porzingis

It has been another eventful day in the NBA, as a new name has entered the rumor mill as a possible trade candidate: Kristaps Porzingis. Reports have suggested there is a “frenzy of interest” in Porzingis, and the Knicks haven’t shot down potential suitors, though their asking price is said to be very high. The Celtics are reportedly among the teams with interest.

As we wait to see how serious the Knicks are about moving Porzingis, here are a few more noteworthy updates on his possible availability:

4:48pm:

  • A plugged-in source who spoke to Howard Beck of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) says to “disregard” the Porzingis buzz, telling Beck that the Knicks are taking calls but aren’t shopping the Latvian.

3:42pm:

2:38pm:

  • According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 in Phoenix (Twitter link), the Knicks asked the Suns for the No. 4 pick and Devin Booker in exchange for Porzingis. Gambadoro is as plugged in as anyone on Suns news, and asking for Booker makes sense for a team seeking a “front-line guard,” which we heard earlier. So this is perhaps an indication of New York’s asking price for Porzingis.
  • One general manager tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News (Twitter link) that the Porzingis rumor feels more like a “message” than something the Knicks are seriously considering. Deveney doesn’t speculate about the specifics of that message, but presumably it’s one aimed at Porzingis’ camp.
  • League sources tell Jordan Schultz of The Huffington Post (Twitter link) that Phil Jackson would like to dump Joakim Noah‘s contract in a Porzingis deal, though it’s not clear if that’s a deal-breaker. While getting Noah off the cap would certainly be huge for the Knicks, attaching him to Porzingis would risk significantly reducing the latter’s trade value.

Suns Plan To Keep GM Ryan McDonough Through 2017/18 Season

The Suns will keep Ryan McDonough on as GM through the 2017/18 season, sources tell Marc Stein and Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. McDonough’s contract is set to expire next offseason.

Drafting Devin Booker is widely regarded as McDonough’s best move, Stein notes. The scribe adds that Phoenix may be in for a busy offseason, citing the team’s surplus of backcourt talent and the draft, which is heavy on point guards. The Suns have a 19.9% chance at landing the No. 1 overall pick, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors recently detailed.

Phoenix had the second-worst record in the league this season, as our Reverse Standings show. The team has gone 134-160 since McDonough took over GM duties.

Suns Notes: Chandler, Knight, McDonough

The Suns gave Tyson Chandler the option of being dealt prior to the trade deadline, but the center chose to stay in Phoenix and take on a role as a mentor. Chandler is a huge fan of the team’s young prospects and he expects to return to to the franchise next season, though nothing is set in stone, Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic relays.

“I think it all depends, honestly, on what direction the team is going in,” Chandler said. “Honestly, I don’t think it’s possible for any team just to go young because then you have a roster full of guys just competing with each other. I’ve had a good relationship with the owners here and management and even the coaching staff. There’s no doubt in my mind that whatever happens it will be a common agreement, whatever’s the best for myself and the organization.”

“So for me, I want what’s best for [the young guys on the team]. I’ve accomplished a lot throughout my career. At the end of the day, I want to see those young players grow.”

Here’s more from Phoenix:

  • Brandon Knight, who hasn’t played since the All-Star break, may be tough to trade because of his contract, Haller notes in the same piece. Knight has three years and slightly under $43.9MM left on his contract after this season.
  • The Suns must figure out what to do with their veterans, Keith P. Smith of RealGM contends. Smith believes GM Ryan McDonough is in a tough spot because a youth movement is a practical route for the team to go, but McDonough may not have the ownership support necessary to progress through that kind of rebuild.
  • Year three is when many NBA players go from being good, up-and-coming prospects to great, All-Star caliber players and Devin Booker is on the path to make that transition, Haller opines in a separate piece. Haller believes Booker will become Phoenix’s next big star for years to come.
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