In an offseason who’s high watermark has thus far centered around the first overall pick which was only acquired because the Phoenix Suns had the worst record in the league, maxing out Devin Booker and doing so quickly is not only a sign of goodwill to him, but to the fanbase as well.
Phoenix Suns fans have not had a lot to celebrate over the past few seasons, compiling a 68-178 record since 2015-16, the worst stretch of losing in their 50-year history.
However, there has been one particular glimmer of hope, a shining light that has grown brighter by the year: Devin Booker.
The budding star guard, already with career highlights in three NBA seasons that would make many long-time veterans blush with envy, Devin Booker is the heart of the Phoenix Suns’ rebuild, the only star (so far) on the roster, and the face of a once glorified, though recently floundering, franchise.
No one on this roster as of now is more deserving of the contract coming his way than he, and no fan wants Phoenix Suns brass to skimp on the details – they just want him signed to a max contract extension as quickly as possible.
Guaranteeing that Devin Booker’s contract will not be used as bargaining chip and that his future will both be taken seriously and not toyed with, is very important to he (I’m sure), but the fanbase as well.
Fans have felt neglected and their fandom taken advantage of in recent years during the tank seasons. They have watched the team’s best players, often the fan’s favorites, traded haphazardly after a frayed relationship tore the fabric of the franchise down the middle.
Because of this, and knowing that Booker was first eligible for an extension this offseason (although it will not take effect until the 2019-20 season), many fans have been fearful that owner Robert Sarver would attempt to take advantage of Booker and offer him less than the max, in a parsimonious, if not downright greedy, attempt to save money, although to spend on whom, no one knows.
While there has been no formal statement that the Suns are offering Booker the max, it is presumed that this is the direction they will go and that he will sign a max extension, projected at five years, and $158 million – an average of $31.6 million a year.
It must be done. For the sake of the franchise, if the two parties leave Los Angeles (where the discussions/negotiations are reportedly to take place) without a contract hammered out, and if there is talk of delaying the process until next offseason when he will officially be a restricted free agent, the hearts of fans will explode world-wide, with many potentially solidifying their already fairly solid distrust of current regime, never to be softened.
Does a max contract put a dent in the salary cap? Absolutely. Booker will immediately become the wealthiest Phoenix Sun of all-time, nearly doubling what Charles Barkley once earned as a Phoenix Sun in four years, within the first season of this new deal.
But those are the cap intricacies that General Manager Ryan McDonough is paid to work with and that owner Robert Sarver must do to keep his star – and the fanbase – happy.
This is also why the tank was even seen through as far as it was: to find as many young star players as possible through the draft, then as they grow and mature, lock them up long-term while still paying others, providing flexibility and depth that so few teams may ever have.
Devin Booker is not Andrew Wiggings. He is a much better player, and the risk to payment is nothing comparatively.
Overall Booker is a highly competitive player, and by all accounts, loyal too. He was reportedly upset about not being given a head’s up about his best friend Tyler Ulis’ release, but has said that he would like to stay in Phoenix for his career, win titles, and have his face eventually placed in the Ring of Honor.
Although he hasn’t won many games, as of now, he’s off to a great personal start and has shown to be one of the best up-and-coming players in the league, someone that LeBron James said is going to be “really, really, really good,” and an “all-star player in the league.”
Devin Booker is worth the max. He should be offered nothing less, and the process should be over very quickly. The Phoenix Suns need to not only show loyalty to their best player, which in turn will show a sign of goodwill to the fanbase as well.