Devin Booker was already the de facto face of the Suns, and now the franchise made it more or less official. General manager Ryan McDonough said on Thursday that the front office will seek out Booker’s opinions for major decisions ranging from free agency, to the coaching staff, to the draft.
“With his emergence and importance to not only what we’re doing in the short term but hopefully in the next decade-plus, I think it’s important to make him a partner in the process,” McDonough said.
McDonough said the Suns plan to build their team around Booker, so it only makes sense to get his opinion on everything from a coaching hire to free agents the team might want to sign.
“Kind of show him the blueprint and vision we have not only for the rest of this season, but for the summers of 2018, 2019, 2020, etc.,” McDonough said. “In terms of what he thinks are important characteristics for a head coach to have, what’s important to us as an organization and how we build over a number of years.”
While still far from a playoff team, the Suns have improved this season ever since letting go of head coach Earl Watson three games in. Booker has been the centerpiece, averaging 24.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Ever since a 70-point outing against the Celtics last season — which didn’t make Boston’s players too happy — it’s been clear the third-year guard out of Kentucky has some serious superstar potential.
Booker is only 21 years old, but as McDonough said, the Suns have clearly been impressed with his maturity to give him this much responsibility going forward. Plus, Booker is clearly the type of guy you want as the face of a franchise. Booker has represented the Suns at the lottery each of the last two years, and each time he’s brought an important guest. This past year he brought 11-year-old Special Olympic athlete Noah Smith, and in 2016 he brought 16-year-0ld season ticket holder Jenna Warren, an enthusiastic Suns fan who has Down syndrome.
The Suns will have some big decisions to make in the near future, starting with a potentially big summer of 2018. Booker is eligible for a contract extension, and AZcentral.com has already reported that both sides would agree to a five-year max deal worth $156 million to keep Booker in Phoenix through 2024.
The Suns’ should also get a top-10 pick, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them sneak into the top five. Phoenix is still looking for its point-guard-of-the-future, so Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Oklahoma’s Trae Young must be some pretty attractive options. A couple other big names that could be available outside the top five: Michigan State wing Miles Bridges and Texas center Mohamed Bamba, among others.
Phoenix also own the Heat’s pick, which projects as a mid-first-rounder. They could get a third first-round pick from a November trade that sent Eric Bledsoe to the Bucks. The Milwaukee pick is protected for the top 10 and 17-30, and the Bucks are currently in the latter range.
The Suns have also held on to all their future picks, which means if they can keep Booker around — as it appears they will — they’re set up well for the future.