Phoenix may have a new franchise player. And no, I don’t mean 2018 number 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton.
The Deal Itself
Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns have reached an agreement on a 5 year, $158 million max contract extension. The 21-year-old will now be a Sun until 2024, and is becoming the highest paid player in Phoenix Suns history. The deal itself falls as the 7th largest contract all time, putting Booker with some pretty elite company:
Devin Booker just signed the 7th largest contract in NBA history. He’s supposed to be graduating from college this year. pic.twitter.com/FrqNGCUpKJ
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) July 8, 2018
Booker is coming off yet another spectacular offensive season, scoring 24.9 PPG on .432 FG% with 4.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. His PPG (22.1), assists (3.4), rebounds (3.2), and FG% (.423%) all increased from the prior season, showing astonishing growth at his young age. In fact, the only guard to ever score more PPG than Booker’s 24.9 at age 21 or younger was Michael Jordan (28.2) in 1984-85.
The start of his career has signs pointing towards all time great. Only 3 of the top 10 players in scoring have had more total points entering their age 22 season than Booker does (4120): Shaq, Lebron, and Kobe.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again: He’s in elite company.
What it says about Booker
This is a move that needs to be appreciated for more than just the money Booker is getting, or the level of potential Booker has. In an era of basketball that’s quickly becoming regarded as one of the worst, Booker has quietly gone against what the Kevin Durant’s and Boogie Cousin’s of the world are doing:
He’s staying with his franchise, even though it isn’t very good yet, instead of chasing a ring now.
This is a kid whose name is known around the NBA, largely in thanks to a 70 point game two seasons ago and breaking the 3 Point Contest record this season. Booker could have easily waited a year until free agency and signed with the Boston Celtics, the LA Lakers, or (God forbid) the Golden-State Warriors. He could have easily put in a request to be traded, and taken his talents to a playoff caliber team.
Instead, the 21-year-old chose to stick with a franchise/community that he both respects and enjoys. Booker has the balls to play for and represent what will likely be another few bad seasons with the Suns, but develop and improve his game while building a strong team around him, and contend years from now.
This is what more teams, and players, need to do.
There’s no real sense of loyalty in many superstars anymore. KD didn’t care about a franchise that was building around him, he just wanted a ring. The Pelicans didn’t care enough about Boogie Cousins, despite how much he’d done for the team in the time he could, so they allowed him to walk out to the Warriors.
Phoenix and Booker have set an example to the rest of the NBA on how teams and players SHOULD act. This isn’t to say that players shouldn’t ever leave franchises, or be afraid to sign with better teams. But, Booker is young, he’s got plenty of time for the Suns and himself to get better, and he realizes that. He wants a title just as much as anyone, but he’s okay waiting to get it if it means doing it with the Suns.
“I am humbled & honored to commit to the Suns organization long-term. I loved calling Phoenix home the last 3 seasons as this team & community are special to me. I look forward to the future and pursuing a title as a Sun.”
– Devin Booker, via Twitter