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Devin Booker agrees to five-year, $158 million max contract extension

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Devin Booker is one of the cornerstones the Phoenix Suns are rebuilding around — and when it comes time, smart teams pay their cornerstones to keep them.

The Phoenix Suns and Booker have agreed to do that — he is signing the max extension that everyone knew would be offered this summer.

The Suns see him and No. 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton as the future pillars of the organization, with Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges playing key roles. The Suns are investing in that future.

Booker, still 21, is a guy who can get buckets — he averaged 24.9 points per game last season, with a slightly above average 56.1 true shooting percentage and hitting 38.3 percent from three. He was slowed some last season by a series of injuries (hip, hand and others), but we know he has the off

But to live up to this max contract, Booker needs to become a better and more focused defender, plus do more as a playmaker. He’s taken steps forward as a playmaker, but he still needs a strong point guard next to him to fully take advantage of his skills. Defense has to become a bigger focus of his game.

That said, this was a no-brainer for the Suns. They had to max him out and keep him.

Watch Suns’ Deandre Ayton score 10 points in NBA Summer League debut

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Deandre Ayton pointed to the rim, asking for a lob. The pass came from Shaquille Harrison, and Ayton snared it in his right hand before slamming down a dunk.

And thousands of Phoenix Suns fans roared.

In that one moment, they saw a glimpse of what their team’s future may look like. The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft made his debut at the NBA Summer League on Friday night, and he walked off a winner as the Suns topped the Dallas Mavericks 92-85.

Ayton played 22 minutes, scoring 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting, with the alley-oop in the opening minutes being his first basket. He also grabbed eight rebounds, blocked a shot and committed five fouls.

“A lot of energy,” Ayton said, when asked for the takeaway from his first NBA game – albeit just of the summer variety. “I could feel the energy around.”

Davon Reed and Mikal Bridges made things easy for Ayton and the Suns, each shooting 4 for 5 from 3-point range. Reed led the Suns with 18 points, while Bridges added 14.

“They showed up,” Ayton said. “Some of these guys, they’re vets, they execute plays. They’re loud, vocal,” Ayton said. “I felt very comfortable.”

Jalen Jones scored 16 points and Dennis Smith Jr. added 14 for Dallas (0-1). Luka Doncic did not play for Dallas, as he still awaits his clearance from his Real Madrid deal – which has to arrive before he can sign his contract with the Mavericks.

“I’m just excited to be here,” Doncic told ESPN in an in-game televised interview.

 

Report: Trevor Ariza leaving Rockets for one-year, $15 million contract with Suns

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Trevor Ariza played a supporting role on the Rockets, who had the NBA’s best record last season.

Now, he’s going to become the highest-paid player on the Suns, who had the NBA’s worst record last season.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Phoenix has a bright future with Devin Booker and No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton. The Suns even traded up on draft night for small forward Mikal Bridges, one of the most polished rookies in this class-.

But that wasn’t enough for Phoenix, which has missed the playoffs the last eight seasons. That long of a drought can push teams into shortcuts when patience should take priority. Maybe that came from direct pressure from owner Robert Sarver. Maybe general manager Ryan McDonough just felt he needed to make a splash to save his job.

Ariza, 33, will help the Suns next season. Enough to make the playoffs? Doubtful. Enough to worsen their draft pick? Probable.

Even as a win-now move, this was odd. Phoenix needs a point guard. Second-round pick Elie Okobo probably isn’t ready. Brandon Knight hasn’t been good and healthy in years. And now most of the Suns’ cap space is gone.

PBT Extra: 2018 NBA Draft grades

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The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Heartbreaking: Watch Mikal Bridges explain joy of joining hometown 76ers while they trade him to Suns (video)

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Mikal Bridges‘ mom jumped up, pumped her fists and screamed “Yes!” through her giant grin.

The 76ers – the organization she works for in human resources – had just drafted her son No. 10 overall. Bridges, a Philadelphia native who played at Villanova, seemed as if he’d stay home for his pro career.

Bridges:

She’s very, very excited. She’s been wanting this. She’s probably more excited than I am. She was about to cry and all that. She said she didn’t want to ruin her makeup, so she’d try to hold it in. But no, she’s very excited. I’m her only son. I’m a little mama’s boy. Her son is right there around the corner again, and it’s just really cool.

Except, as Bridges was talking, the 76ers were trading him to the Suns for No. 16 pick Zhaire Smith and the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder.

That extra pick carries major value. Even if you like Bridges much more than Smith – which I did, especially considering their fits in Philadelphia – that’s hard to pass up. The NBA is a business after all.

But it’s lamentable how this played out.