When he found out the rumors about Chris Paul coming to Phoenix were real, Deandre Ayton said he wanted to do a backflip.
“You ever seen a 7-footer do a backflip?” Ayton asked reporters during his first press conference of the season on Thursday.
No, I never have, but Ayton and his young Suns teammates have also never seen anyone like Chris Paul in their facility, so it’s no surprise Ayton wanted to match the excitement of the moment by defying physics.
Devin Booker’s reaction was more subdued. Already during individual workouts, Booker has taken Ayton aside to impress upon him the seriousness of the task ahead of them.
Book says he's taken DA aside already to tell him how important the addition of Chris Paul will be for both of them.— Brendon Kleen (@BrendonKleen14) December 3, 2020
The Suns have a chance to be pretty good this season, but it will take lots of work.
“I’m trying to stay at the same process, stay motivated and stay with the same tunnel vision,” Booker said, “but there are obvious changes that we made with the depth on this team now.
“I’m very excited to get out there to start to compete with these guys, but as far as the expectations, the hype, what people are saying about us, it’s still the same mentality that we had in the Bubble. We’re focused on getting better and we don’t really care about what people are saying.”
Since the Bubble has come up so much this week, Booker was asked about it several times as well, and he responded that he believes it not only showed the players on the Suns roster what they were capable of but also proved to players around the league there was real momentum in Phoenix.
Booker says this summer was all about making guys want to come to Phoenix and show other players the team is serious about winning.— Brendon Kleen (@BrendonKleen14) December 3, 2020
Trying not to get ahead of himself but says people around the NBA see "something is brewing" with the Suns.
“That’s what was most important about this organization and this team this summer, is having guys wanting to come here,” Booker said. “A guy like Jae wanting to come here, a guy like Chris, a Hall of Fame guy wanting to come to Phoenix after what we’ve been through for the past five to 10 years, so I think that’s a step forward for this organization. People really see something’s brewing over here.
“I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, but I think already this is a big step for this organization.”
The All-Star added it’s “perfect timing” with the renovated arena and practice facility finished up to start turning the page as a team.
“It’s a great culture around here, and it’s still building,” Booker said.
A few minutes later, Ayton echoed his teammate’s words. The big man said that from his second game of the Bubble on, he and Booker developed a new level of connection and “brotherhood” that has translated throughout 2020.
“To hear that Chris Paul is coming to this team to bring some respect to this team and some acknowledgment, it’s just tremendous and we’re blessed as an organization,” Ayton said. “Me and Book, knowing we have to step up and do it every night, we’re happy and we’re eager to do it.”
This week, all three of Paul, Booker and Ayton have been aligned in the amount of work and patience it will take but also the size of the opportunity in front of them with the Suns in 2021.