Is the sun setting for All-Star Devin Booker in Phoenix? During a recent episode of the Bill Simmons Podcast, Ryen Russillo said it’s “the worst kept secret” Booker wants a change of scenery. However, host John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Phoenix refuted that statement emphatically, calling it “garbage.” A league source also told HoopsHype there’s no truth to Booker wanting out of Phoenix.
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Several executives who spoke with HoopsHype believe Booker won’t be going anywhere because of his contract situation and his talent as a franchise cornerstone at such a young age. “He has no leverage,” one Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype. “He’s locked up for four more years. There is no way for him to demand a trade with that much time left on his contract.”
Rarely have the No. 1 and 2 picks gone to teams in various win-now stages. Both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors have explored trading their picks for All-NBA-level stars, sources say, but no such deal appears (for now) likely to materialize. The Wizards have shown no interest in trading Beal for either pick, sources say. Ditto for Phoenix with Devin Booker and Philadelphia with Ben Simmons.
John Gambadoro: This is 100% NOT TRUE. Book is happy in Phoenix, excited for the season, loves how they finished in the bubble, excited about free agency. Not one time has he ever told anyone he wanted out. Don’t listen to this garbage.
The Phoenix Suns are building their franchise around Devin Booker, but the All-Star guard may not want to stay with the team much longer. Per Ryen Russillo on The Bill Simmons Podcast (starts at 68:00 mark), it’s “the worst kept secret” in the NBA that Booker wants to leave the Suns. Booker’s name has been floated around in trade rumors since the summer. Marc Berman of the New York Post reported in July that the New York Knicks’ hiring of head coach Tom Thibodeaux and president Leon Rose could put them in play for the 24-year-old:
Rose also hired William Wesley for a role in the front office, who was his colleague at CAA. “There’s also a real fear in the NBA,” said Bill Simmons. “I’m fine talking about this. It’s rumor, heresy stuff. But it’s just a fact. Kentucky, Worldwide Wes had a great relationship with John Calipari. CAA’s got multiple Kentucky guys and there’s a real fear in the league that the Knicks are going to become the Kentucky pipeline team. “Devin Booker is a great example of that, right? Even though he’s on a big deal right now, at some point if he wanted to move out of there... “The league is kind of watching the Kentucky factor with that team.
Otherwise, the Knicks have accumulated enough assets to try a blockbuster trade and have been linked to two players who were once represented by Rose: Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Phoenix’s Devin Booker. However, those players, like Mitchell in the future, are locked up contractually by their respective teams for multiple years.
While Minnesota would love to pull off a blockbuster move and team up Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker with close friends Russell and Towns, Phoenix isn’t going for that. Most league insiders expect the Wolves to take Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, considered the best positional fit among the top three prospects (including National Basketball League guard LaMelo Ball and Memphis center James Wiseman).
“I need my man somewhere he can play great basketball all the time and win because he’s that type of player.” Suns big man Deandre Ayton was asked about Draymond’s opinion during a guest appearance on “The Woj Pod” with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “We definitely heard that noise. It was promoted everywhere,” the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft said. “It’s just outside noise. Book is a dude who really maintains focus, and he just wants to win. He’s a competitor at the highest peak there is in this league. “It’s contagious. Seeing how he plays out there every day — it just spreads. Him and I being the head honchos leading, so any noise like that is nonexistent to me.”
For Booker, the winning has been even sweeter, given some of the criticism he’s dealt with over the past few years because of all the losing. Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green said on Friday’s edition of “Inside the NBA” that “it’s not good for [Booker’s] career” to stay in Phoenix. “I feel like that’s important for this organization, for the fans that have stuck by us for this long and still do so,” Booker said when asked about Green’s comments. “Since I’ve been in Phoenix, we haven’t had the win success that we had, but the support’s been there. And this is what we owe to the fans, we owe to the organization. It’s been a long time for us and I think this bubble opportunity was big for us, and we’re taking advantage of it.”
It became a topic of conversation over the weekend when the New York Post wrote, in a reader mailbag, that the player to “watch out for most” regarding a potential Knicks trade is Booker. The connection between Booker and the Knicks is clear: Leon Rose, New York’s president, used to be Booker’s agent at Creative Artists Agency. William “World Wide Wes” Wesley also has a relationship with Booker. Wesley is the Knicks’ executive vice president and a senior advisor to Rose. Any speculation about a Booker trade includes the assumption that the young star would force a trade from the Suns.
No one knows whether Booker would take that type of stance – either publicly or privately. As we pointed out in the mailbag, it’s worth noting that Trevor Trout of EliteMediaGroup recently wrote that Booker’s father, Melvin Booker, is tired of watching Devin Booker lose in Phoenix.
Something else that’s worth noting about Booker and the Suns: last summer, the Arizona Republic reported that the Suns chose not to pursue D’Angelo Russell, Booker’s close friend, in free agency because the club “apparently felt Russell wouldn’t have been a good influence on Booker off the court.” Booker, per league sources, wasn’t happy with the organization at the time of the report. The Arizona Republic noted that Booker had campaigned for club to sign Russell, who was a restricted free agent.
Again, none of this is to suggest that Booker is going to demand a trade from the Suns. But there is some evidence to suggest that the relationship between Booker and the organization hasn’t been unblemished. Even if Booker asks for a trade, it seems unlikely that Phoenix would be in a rush to fill the request.
However, since Leon Rose was hired as president, the player to watch out for most is Suns combo guard Devin Booker, according to league sources. If Rose hires Tom Thibodeau, Towns — a former Rose client — no longer makes sense because of their history. Booker and Towns were Rose clients who played at Kentucky, which means Knicks adviser William Wesley is close to each. Rose has done well with Kentucky standouts because of Wesley.
Booker, 23, made his first All-Star Game in February. Recent rumblings are Booker could get tired of the perennial losing in Phoenix, which is run by a spendthrift owner in Robert Sarver. “I think he’ll do unbelievable,’’ Booker said of Rose. “One of the most genuine guys I know. One of the most honest guys I know. So I’m happy for him in his new position. I think the Knicks are in really good hands.’’ Last week, Rose said he’s prepared to beef up the offensively challenged Knicks through “the draft, trades and free agency.’’
Ben Simmons found himself in a bad position while streaming a Call of Duty match. While waiting for a match to start, the Philadelphia 76ers start to read some comments, including one that could get him in trouble with the NBA. At some point, Simmons said: “I wish Book would come to Philly,” before clarifying he was reading his feed, not stating it was his personal desire to team up with Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker.
Former Atlanta Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox appeared on NBA TV on Monday and discussed six players who could be traded now, later this season and in the future. The list included Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul, Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love, Washington Wizard shooting guard Bradley Beal, Minnesota Timberwolves small forward Andrew Wiggins, Memphis Grizzlies small forward Andre Iguodala and Booker. Wilcox put Booker and Wiggins in the “future” category. “Of these six names, Chris Paul and (Andre) and Iguodala, we know that they’re in the trade market and they’re available,” said Wilcox during NBA TV’s 2019-20 regular-season schedule release special Monday. “Of these other four names, we can probably take (Andrew) Wiggins and (Devin) Booker into the future,” Wilcox continued.
It’s tough to predict which players may be available in the long term, but as I wrote in January: Teams are monitoring Ben Simmons (Sixers), Devin Booker (Suns), and Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves). All three players are locked into contracts now, but if the Suns or Wolves keep losing or if Simmons takes a back seat in Philadelphia, situations can sour. The true prize, however, will hit the market in two years.
For the teams looking to add Irving, locking him in before camp opens gives the acquiring team the best chance to fill in their roster around a ramped-up plan that includes Irving. League sources continue to label the Suns as the team with the right assets to obtain Irving, but they remain reluctant to include rookie Josh Jackson or third-year stud Devin Booker in any conversation. Jackson became trade eligible last week and recently joked at the Panini rookie photo shoot that he’d heard the rumors, but if it were going to happen, it would have happened by now.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: So far, Knicks and Suns are without traction on a Kristaps Porzingis trade. Knicks will not get Devin Booker as part of any deal.
Gambadoro said Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker would not be in the deal. Bledsoe and Cousins were teammates at the University of Kentucky.
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April 16, 2021 | 8:10 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: The Celtics are waiving Moe Wagner to create roster space for Jabari Parker, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium . Wagner has averaged nearly six points and three rebounds this season, and was productive in his starts in Washington prior to being traded.
April 16, 2021 | 8:06 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: Free agent Jabari Parker has agreed to a deal with the Boston Celtics, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium .
Chris Bosh: Like everyone else who pays attention to basketball, I was shocked this week at the news that LaMarcus Aldridge was retiring. Over fifteen lights-out seasons in the NBA, LaMarcus became a seven-time All-Star, with a fadeaway jumper you just had to admire, even if he was draining it in your face. But he also became the kind of player you could develop a relationship with from the stands or through the TV: a big man who could run the court and put up big numbers on both sides of the ball—and never let his head get too big about it.