Devin Booker Reportedly Upset Suns Didn't Pursue D'Angelo Russell in Free Agency

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2020

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 16: Devin Booker #2 of Team LeBron poses for a photo with D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 69th NBA All-Star Game as part of 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 16, 2020 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images

All-Star guard Devin Booker was reportedly upset with the Phoenix Suns' decision to avoid pursuing guard D'Angelo Russell in free agency last offseason. 

According to SNY's Ian Begley, Booker is close friends with Russell and "campaigned" for the Suns to sign him. Phoenix signed veteran point guard Ricky Rubio instead, and Booker reportedly "wasn't happy" with the organization's decision to pass up on Russell.

At the time, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reported that the Suns didn't feel Russell would be a good influence on Booker off the court.

Booker was the 13th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, but he has far exceeded expectations during his five-year NBA career.

The 23-year-old boasts career averages of 22.3 points, 4.7 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.0 trifectas per game, but it wasn't until this season that he finally received the recognition he deserved and was named to the All-Star team for the first time.

Prior to the suspension of the 2019-20 season in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Booker was enjoying another fine campaign, as his 26.1 points, 6.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per contest were right in line with the career highs he put up last season.

Like Booker, Russell enjoyed a career year last season, as he averaged 21.1 points, 7.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. Russell was named an All-Star for the first time and helped lead the Brooklyn Nets to the playoffs as well.

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Rather than signing Russell to a new deal, the Nets traded his rights to the Golden State Warriors for Kevin Durant. Russell signed a four-year, $117 million extension as part of the sign-and-trade, but his stint with the Dubs didn't last long.

After appearing in 33 games for Golden State, Russell was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a deal that sent Andrew Wiggins to the Warriors. In 45 games split between the Warriors and T-Wolves, Russell averaged 23.1 points, 6.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals.

Neither the Warriors nor Timberwolves are part of the NBA restart, but Booker and the Suns will play out the remainder of the season, as they are six games back of the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference and technically still have a chance to make the playoffs even though every team only has eight regular-season games remaining.

Despite Booker's individual success, the Suns have never made the playoffs during his career as part of a postseason drought that has persisted since the 2010-11 season.

It is difficult to say if Russell would have helped them get over the hump, but there is no question Booker, Deandre Ayton, Kelly Oubre and Co. need more support to reach the next level.

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