The Suns chose not to pursue Russell despite Devin Booker’s campaign for them to target his close friend, according to league sources familiar with the situation.
The Suns apparently felt Russell wouldn’t have been a good influence on Booker off the court.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 is exceptionally well plugged-in in Phoenix, and he was steadfast in saying the Suns wouldn’t sign Russell. It seemed it didn’t matter how the market shook out. They weren’t interested.
Even after Russell became an All-Star with the Nets, questions lingered about his work ethic and attitude. He has clearly improved in those areas, but that doesn’t mean he’s now beyond reproach.
And that progress came in Brooklyn’s sound structure. Russell might have a harder time in the Suns’ messy culture.
I’m not saying the Suns were right to rule out Russell. They need talent. But I can see why they did it.
General manager James Jones clearly wants to improve Phoenix’s environment. Once he does, he might be more willing to take a chance on players with character concerns.
But I wonder how this will affect Booker. He has already seemed ornery while stuck losing. If he’s bothered by Phoenix not pursuing Russell, Booker could make it even harder for the Suns to develop their desired culture.