The Phoenix Suns made a seemingly small move when they released Tyler Ulis, but it actually had big implications on star guard Devin Booker.
According to Yahoo’s Shams Charania, the 21-year-old “is upset” that the Suns cut Ulis. Charania described Ulis as Booker’s “best friend” and noted that now isn’t the time to upset the shooting guard because he is eligible for a contract extension.
Ulis played alongside Booker at the University of Kentucky during the 2014-15 season. They finished the regular season 38-1 before losing to Wisconsin in the Final Four.
He was drafted in the second round by Phoenix in the 2016 NBA Draft, one year after Booker was selected by the Suns. In a feature about the teammates published on Bleacher Report, Seerat Sohi mentioned they lived in the same apartment complex and “operate like roommates” despite not sharing a unit.
It’s unlikely that Booker would turn down a max contract offer just because the front office moved on from Ulis, who has averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 28 percent from beyond the arc during his two-year career. No player on the Suns had more passes per game to Booker than Ulis did (8.7) last year.
But here is how Scott Bordow described the situation back in March, noting that point guard Brandon Knight is set to return from his injury next season (via Twitter):
“Booker and Ulis are close, but Booker is a pro. He knows Suns have to do what they think is best for team. Knight is progressing well. Will be 100 percent for training camp.”
Bordow tweeted in January that the fact Booker and Ulis are friends will not “play into anything” when deciding the future of their backcourt. Booker is the only one who knows how significant the decision was for Phoenix, but it’s certainly worth mentioning.