Earl Watson says he was a martyr starting Devin Booker

Earl Watson Devin Booker (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl Watson Devin Booker (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Former Phoenix Suns Head Coach Earl Watson was interviewed by Yahoo Sports about a number of topics. He still believes that he was the only person who wanted Devin Booker to start.

When now former General Manager Ryan McDonough selected Devin Booker with the 13th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, there wasn’t a ton in the way of high expectations regarding the one-year Kentucky backup shooting guard.

Booker had never started a game in the unique Kentucky rotation, and while he was definitely an impressive player, that lack of a starting role did diminish initial expectations as he came into the league.

However, Phoenix Suns fans saw right away the talent that he exuded, and seeing him perform better in spurts than his veteran counterpart Brandon Knight, calls for him to both play more and even start, arose very early.

Yet, although the call to see Booker start bubbled up organically within the Valley of the Suns, Earl Watson continues to claim that management – and even coaches on his staff – argued against him that Booker should supplant Knight.

In fact, Watson was so confident in his position that Booker should be a starter, and that there was a will against such a move within the organization, that he was…willing to risk his career?

"“There’s always going to be major push back when you pay the backcourt close to $140 million, and you have this new young coach telling you ‘but, this kid right here…should be the starter.’ There was major push back and confusion…the coach’s talent and perspective is the best player and what’s going to build hope beyond you.I knew, starting Devin Booker, in the backcourt, put me at high risk of being let go. That’s why a lot of coaches know that. That’s why they’ll stick with the vet, and the fans want the young player, but ‘hold on, I need to keep my job.’But for me, I had to make a decision. And that decision for me was, I had my chance as a player. I came in, I had my chance on play, now I’m transitioning to the coach’s side, I can’t forget what it was like being a player.”"

Watson makes a solid argument that Phoenix Suns ownership and management might have had an expectation in Knight and Eric Bledsoe because those players were paid $70 million each to be the backcourt of the future and Booker was just a rookie.

But for him to claim that he had some great desire to start Booker right away is factually ludicrous.

One might expect that with a statement like the one above that Watson was playing Booker 30 minutes a game in three-guard lineups because he was so confident  in the rookie’s play.

Truth be told, before Bledsoe went down with his season-ending injury in late December, Booker started once in late November, had 5 DNP-CDs including two the week before Bledsoe’s injury, and had received 30 minutes of play or more a grand total of once  while getting less than 20 minutes in an appearance 18 times.

Suns fans had seen what Booker could bring (he was shooting 58.8% from beyond the arc when Bledsoe went down) and was already beginning to become unnerved with Knight’s play.

And yet Booker made it into the starting role purely out of necessity and not due to some overwhelming push by Watson to start him.

Maybe management did not see what Watson and much of the fanbase had seen in Booker. Maybe Sarver and McDonough really were blind to what they had in front of them clouded by the internal need to start the $140 million men was overwhelmed them.

Next. Josh Jackson may have played himself out of the starting lineup. dark

But for Watson to continue to play the martyr, claiming that he was willing to risk his job to prove that a player who has since become the face of the franchise might not have had Watson himself not believed in him, is just ridiculous.

There is a not a chance that Watson truly believed that Booker was going to be one of the greatest of all time (which he also alluded to in the interview) and nobody else in the organization believed he was even a starter.