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Suns’ Devin Booker: ‘I’d like to build a super team. I’d like the super team to come to me.’

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After last season, Suns guard Devin Booker said, “I’m done with not making the playoffs. I’m serious. This is probably my last year ever not making the playoffs.”

Phoenix is 4-15 and the only bad team in the Western Conference.

But Booker hasn’t become less openly ambitious.

Booker, via Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports:

“I’d like to build a superteam. I’d like the superteam to come to me.”

I don’t know the latest definition of a “super team,” but having three stars seems somewhat generally accepted.

The Suns have zero stars.

Though hailed and paid as one, Booker isn’t quite there yet (no great sin for a 22-year-old on the right track). No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton has all the tools and has looked good so far. But after that? I wouldn’t bet on Mikal Bridges, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren or anyone else in Phoenix developing into a star.

Until the Suns seriously contend for the playoffs, this talk by Booker mostly just rings hollow. It’s skipping steps, and stars are unlikely to join a team so bad.

At least Phoenix will have a high first round pick. That’ll be the best opportunity to add a star.

Josh Jackson yells at teammate ‘You want to f—king play or what?’

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The Phoenix Suns are a bad team. They aren’t the worst team in the NBA — the Cleveland Cavaliers have them edged out there — but it’s clear there’s some serious work to do with this young squad moving forward.

It’s early in the season, but even with many young players in a development year, most would like to put a few more wins up on the board. As such, when poor or low effort play is involved, it’s possible for tensions to boil over.

That’s what happened on Saturday night as the Suns took on the Oklahoma City Thunder. During an inbounds play with a few seconds left to go in the third quarter, sloppy play by his Phoenix teammates led Josh Jackson to yell at TJ Warren.

Via Twitter:

I mean, someone has to come to the ball there, right? That’s some 5th grade basketball nonsense right there.

Perhaps Warren and the rest of the Suns thought that Jackson would try to launch the ball into their own half of the court to get a closer shot? In any case more communication was necessary.

The Suns lost to the Thunder, 110-100, and dropped to 3-12 on the season.

Devin Booker to play in Suns opener on Wednesday

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Devin Booker — the Suns’ newly minted max contract player — had been working hard to recover from off-season hand surgery in time for the opening of the season (the original timeline after surgery had him missing the first week or two of the season).

Looks like he made it, according to coach Igor Kokoskov, via Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

Booker is young, 21, and hopefully he just healed quickly. There is no reason to rush Booker back here, the Suns need to approach this season with a long-term view, not thinking win now.

This is going to be an interesting young Suns team with Booker, rookie Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Mikal Bridges, and now with some veteran voices in Trevor Ariza and the newly added Jamal Crawford in the locker room. This team is not playoff bound in the West, but nightly they will be improved and not a pushover.

Suns secure franchise player or two or none, but no starting-caliber point guard

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Eight NBA players are guaranteed more than $150 million in salary. Seven – Russell Westbrook, James Harden, John Wall, Stephen Curry, Karl-Anthony Towns and LeBron James – were All-Stars last year, and another – Chris Paulabsolutely should have been.

The outlier: Devin Booker, whom the Suns gave a max contract extension projected to be worth $158 million over five years.

Booker has never been an All-Star nor deserved to be one. Phoenix has peaked at 24 wins with him. He ranked 502nd last season with a real plus-minus of -2.44, a personal best.

On the other hand, the Suns are paying for what Booker will do, not what he has done. He’s an extremely talented scorer with playmaking skills and the frame to impact games far more than he has. Importantly, he’s just 21.

Is Booker worthy of being a franchise player?

Maybe.

But Phoenix rushed to pay him like one this summer despite the uncertainty. The Suns could have waited, assessed Booker over the season and re-signed him as a restricted free agent summer. That might have hurt Booker’s feelings, or it might have driven him to compete harder next year. I think it would have been worth the downside of delaying. Booker’s value just isn’t clear enough to justify lavishing him with a full max contract now. To extend him this summer, Phoenix should have demanded some salary concessions.

The Suns had to take their other high-stakes gamble of the offseason, drafting Deandre Ayton No. 1. Ayton looked like a good choice, but top picks are so pivotal. It was extremely important to get this right.

Especially because Phoenix seems intent on escaping the bottom of the standings.

The Suns signed veteran Trevor Ariza to a one-year, $15 million contract and traded the No. 16 pick and the Heat’s unprotected 2021 pick for No. 10 pick Mikal Bridges, one of the draft’s most NBA-ready players. Ariza and Bridges join Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren as versatile forwards on the roster.

Phoenix also traded for its new starting power forward, Ryan Anderson. I liked that deal, considering Anderson reduced his 2019-20 salary guarantee to match outgoing Brandon Knight‘s. The Suns also upgraded prospects in the swap, going from Marquese Chriss to No. 46 pick De’Anthony Melton. Anderson has taken a lot of grief for his playoff shortcomings, but he was still a productive regular-season player last year.

The upcoming regular season is apparently a priority in Phoenix, where an eight-year playoff drought – longest in franchise history – runs. Owner Robert Sarver isn’t known for his patience.

But if the Suns are trying to make the playoffs, they were absolutely negligent at point guard. Their options: No. 31 pick Elie Okobo, Melton, Isaiah Canaan (signed to an unguaranteed minimum contract), Shaquille Harrison (who received a $50,000 guarantee this summer) and Booker playing out of position once he gets healthy. That’s not going to cut it in a loaded Western Conference.

Phoenix even seemed more concerned with getting another backup center than a starting point guard, executing two trades – dealing a second-rounder to the Nets to downgrade from Jared Dudley‘s salary to Darrell Arthur‘s then sending $1 million to the 76ers – to land Richaun Holmes.

With the $15 million and two first-round picks they used to get Ariza and Bridges, the Suns could have signed or traded for a solid point guard. Instead, that money and those picks went toward adding even more combo forwards.

How innovative will first-time head coach Igor Kokoskov be? I’m not sure Brad Stevens or Gregg Popovich could scheme their way through this point-guard void.

For so long, I wanted to give the Suns’ offseason an incomplete. But they’re starting training camp with this roster with apparently no trade imminent. It’s time to assess.

I don’t see how this roster works in the short term, and it’s a little less flexible and asset-rich in the long-term.

Offseason grade: D+

Rumor: Suns have tried to trade for Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker, other point guards

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While you can make sense of the Suns’ trade for Ryan Anderson — if you believe De'Anthony Melton can turn into a quality NBA rotation guard, although the jury is still out on that — the deal sent Brandon Knight to the Rockets and left a burning question for the Suns:

Who is going to play point guard on this team next season?

The Suns spent this summer trying to construct a trade that would answer that question with a star player, but fell short, according to the well connected John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 in Phoenix.

That shouldn’t be a surprise — that the Suns tried and that they were shot down.

Right now the Suns have Shaquille Harrison and rookie Elie Okobo at the point. Harrison played 23 games for the Suns last season and showed a great work ethic and some real potential, he was solid when he was in for them. Okobo, out of France, was the 31st pick in last June’s draft and showed flashes at Summer League but has a lot of adjusting to do, and his game needs to mature, to really fit at the NBA level.

Neither of those are particularly good options. The Suns could put the ball in the hands of Devin Booker as their primary playmaker, and while he can get buckets he is not a true playmaking point guard and floor general. Those results have been mixed, at best.

Look for the Suns to make a trade and/or scour the waiver wire during camp, looking for someone who can give them quality minutes at the point. Because outside of the one slot the Suns have an interesting starting five — Booker, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Deandre Ayton, with Josh Jackson and Mikail Bridges coming off the bench.