After suffering another huge disappointment, the Phoenix Suns headed into the summer of 2019 with the goal of surrounding Devin Booker with a better supporting cast that could help them end their playoff drought in the 2019-20 NBA season. One of the areas that the Suns aimed to improve is the point guard position, in which they decided to immediately address by giving Ricky Rubio a three-year, $51 million contract in the 2019 NBA free agency period.
However, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic, before they officially signed Rubio, Booker and most of the Suns’ fans were keeping an eye on a different free agent — D’Angelo Russell, who ended up going to the Golden State Warriors in a sign-and-trade deal. Days before the 2019 NBA free agency period started, rumors have circulated that Booker is interested in teaming up with Russell in Phoenix. Booker and Russell came from the same draft class and were reportedly close friends.
Unfortunately, despite the intriguing possibility of having an explosive backcourt duo, the Suns didn’t reportedly share the same interest as Devin Booker when it comes to signing D’Angelo Russell. As Rankin noted, the Suns believe Russell “wouldn’t have been a good influence on Booker off the court.”
“A very vocal chunk of Phoenix fans wanted the Suns to go after D’Angelo Russell. The franchise apparently didn’t have the same feeling. The Suns chose not to pursue Russell despite Devin Booker’s campaign for them to target his close friend, according to league sources familiar with the situation. The Suns apparently felt Russell wouldn’t have been a good influence on Booker off the court. Instead, Phoenix agreed to a three-year, $51-million deal with veteran point guard Ricky Rubio on the first day of free agency Sunday.”
— USA TODAY NBA (@usatodaynba) July 1, 2019
No one can blame the Suns for being concerned about Russell’s off-court activities. Two months ago, the 23-year-old point guard was caught carrying some marijuana at an airport. However, according to Jack Baer of Yahoo Sports, if the Suns didn’t want players who smoke weed, they will only be a few players left on their roster.
The Suns may have managed to address the major issue in their backcourt by signing Ricky Rubio, but after failing to bring D’Angelo Russell to Phoenix, they could face another huge problem regarding Booker, who is the face of the franchise. A few days before the 2019 NBA free agency began, Dan Bickley of Arizona Sports opened up the possibility that Booker could demand a trade from the Suns if they pass on the chance to acquire Russell. Booker is still under contract until the 2023-24 NBA season, but he is really determined to leave, the Suns will have no choice but to find him a new home this summer.