Even though they just finished 21-61, their second worst mark as an organization, the Phoenix Suns led by their young star guard in Devin Booker are tired of what’s happening.
I’m done with not making the playoffs. I’m serious,” Booker said in his final media scrum of the season. “This is probably the last year I’m ever not making the playoff.”
Booker wants to make the playoffs every year the rest of his career, he’s absolutely serious and that is the pressure he wants to put on himself to reach an even higher level.
However, so seems the front office as they prepare to offer Booker his max extension alongside having a say in decisions this summer.
All possibilities were left open today in the Suns’ final media session of the 2017-18 season, at least with the players, until Summer League preparation begins.
On Wednesday, we had the chance to speak with almost all members of the team. Below are the highlights and main takeaways from all of their discussions as we say so long to one of the worst seasons ever for the Suns.
For Jay Triano, he has now put together a 79-game sample size for general manager Ryan McDonough to decide if he’s worthy of returning or if he will just be apart of the interview process.
The latter seems most likely, but Triano pointed out on Wednesday how other players around the league want to play with Devin Booker. He also believes this young core took strides forward from a developmental standpoint this season.
Now, Triano will have his interview likely sometime soon on why he should continue in his role after replacing Earl Watson in October.
He should be able to point to the development of Josh Jackson, but anything else?
When McDonough spoke, he sounded like someone who knew what he had planned heading into this summer. McDonough realizes Booker is ready to compete for the playoffs after his star-like jump in his third season, but is the other parts also ready to go?
That answer over the course of the season seemed to indicate no, which could signal a roster overhaul incoming to build a more competitive team immediately.
The door was also left open for all options to be looked over in the coaching search alongside amping up more aggressive activity this summer. Swinging a trade for a young superstar was not left out of the equation when it comes to shaking up their foundation to better suit Booker.
Phoenix plans to have a coach in place by the end of this month, preferably no later than the Draft Lottery.
Most teams will experience at least little activity this offseason, but expect the Suns to stay in the spotlight from April-July as they try to stay the course and bring a contender onboard.
Booker put an end to the fake news grab by ESPN early last week about him maybe wanting to request a trade this summer if things didn’t go as planned. Absolutely false, as he mentioned falling in love with the city of Phoenix upon arrival.
Not only will he likely be inking a 5-year, $156 million extension on July 1, but he’s also planning on prioritizing his physical build this summer. Booker chuckled when saying he was trying to grow more into his man body.
However, it’s true. He has very underrated strength to his game right now. And if he adds even more, it should allow him to add more post elements to his moves like his idol Kobe Bryant did during his prime years.
As everyone including Booker himself said, it’s time to start winning.
It will be interesting to see how their landscape changes this summer in whatever direction it goes.
After a nightmarish first half of his rookie campaign followed up by one of the stronger rookie wing performances the last 40+ games, Josh Jackson is ready to breakout in his second season.
One change that we didn’t see as much as was advertised was how vocal he would be. Jackson was very much so, but he was on the quieter side as he learned the ropes of this league.
However, expect that to change in 2018-19 as Booker takes the bull by the horns even more from this leadership perspective. They are both in this to change this culture around together, and fast.
Warren didn’t speak long with the media today, but I wanted to include him because he was asked about the thought of coming off the bench next year behind Jackson.
He obviously was caught off guard by the question being thrown his way, but that’s a small storyline to follow this summer.
Competition will be a big factor next year, so will this be something both of them feed off of or something else?
Whether he’s in their long-term plans as a super sub or trade piece, Warren will need to add more elements to his game as that contract extension kicks off.
T.J. Warren on if he would be okay with coming off the bench behind Josh Jackson next year: pic.twitter.com/K830NReHr7— Evan Sidery (@esidery) April 11, 2018
Even though Knight missed all of 2017-18 due to a torn ACL he suffered in July, he had a mental shift occur in the process. Gone was the old Knight and in was a newer one with a clearer vision and perspective.
He wants to be here alongside Booker and help change this thing around in Phoenix.
McDonough mentioned Knight again as a piece who fits today’s modern NBA from a shooting standpoint with a guard.
Knight seems on the cusp of being handed over the starting point guard reins if all goes right this summer.
Who knows, he might bounce back to how he was in Milwaukee and step into a valued role on the roster.
What a way to end the season, right? Not only did Alec Peters go off for 36 points in the season finale in Dallas, but it was a well-deserved payoff for him.
Also, Mark Cuban threw out the Larry Bird comparison his way which had him cracking up.
Peters spoke on not only that but his year as a whole, including going up and down with the NAZ Suns.
He showed it last night, but Peters’ sniper-like ability from deep could be a useful weapon next season.
Don’t relax now, Suns fans. This topsy-turvy of an offseason, likely the most important one in franchise history, will begin now as they search for a new head coach.
Not only will a new coach be expected to be put in place by the end of this month, but the Draft Lottery will then be two weeks after that where Phoenix holds the best odds (25%) of holding their first No. 1 pick ever.
Then, we get deep into draft season and free agency where the Suns are one of only 5 or 6 teams expected to have significant cap space to play with to change their roster seemingly overnight.
Buckle up, everybody.