There is no doubt that with every loss, Phoenix Suns fans are more on edge about what their only star, Devin Booker, is thinking and whether or not he is inching closer to demanding a trade. But player relationships is exactly what we were sold on as James Jones’ key talent. Is he using that talent and keeping Booker happy while Book loses another season of his young career?
It is as obvious as a full moon in the sky: the Phoenix Suns are in turmoil and nothing seems to be working in their favor. Sure, Devin Booker is great, but how happy can he be while he suffers through loss after loss, night after night, knowing that his young career has been slowly wasted away while other young players around the league see regular success?
Fans are fearful about what Booker says after every loss and whether or not he is on the verge of asking for a trade to a more competitive team/franchise (20 years ago players begged to be traded from the Los Angeles Clippers, many of whom would have loved to have been sent to the Suns. It would not come as a shock to me on any level if Booker ever demanded a trade – and mentioned the Clippers as a destination he would be happy with).
But James Jones is his Interim General Manager (or whatever his title is), and came to the Suns’ organization as an Executive who is supposedly excellent with player relationships, the kind of ex-player that current players would listen to and want to work for, here in Phoenix.
While Booker has never said anything other than he would love to play out his career in Phoenix (that was last year though when the light at the end of the tunnel finally appeared to be somewhat brighter), he has finally spoken out against his team and is obviously not happy with the situation one bit.
For those who still cling to the belief that Booker would not demand a trade, if Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler can all demand trades from organizations with whom they were having tremendous success, Devin Booker can demand a trade out of one that hasn’t had success since Booker was a freshman in high school.
To stem the tide of Booker’s unhappiness, has James Jones reached out and sat down with Booker offering Book any solace in the situation at hand? Obviously Jones has a history of winning (some in Phoenix but the majority while riding the coat tails of LeBron James), but is that history enough for Booker to accept if Jones tells him that things will get better?
Even if Jones sits down with Booker, can Booker have faith that what Jones is telling him is accurate? Jones is still not the full-time General Manager; that role appears to be Robert Sarver’s (without the official title). Can Booker accept the word of a (thus far) hand puppet, or at best, lame duck?
Devin Booker obviously also has a relationship with Robert Sarver, and there is every reason in the world to believe that it is a strong, professional one. They have probably spoken about the future more times than we could ever know, and both Sarver and Jones have likely laid out the franchise’s plans for finishing the re-build and building a winner in the very near future.
But Booker is also aware that since the Colangelo’s left town, the Suns have not been a successful franchise save for one season at the tail end of Steve Nash‘s career, and the 48-win season in which the Suns missed the playoffs at the start of the Ryan McDonough era.
Both, for all intents and purposes though, were flukish seasons, and no sustained success has occurred since Booker was in elementary school.
Can James Jones still assure Booker that Sarver not only knows what he is doing but also has a plan for success that is workable and that Booker should have faith that that plan is one to stick around for and see through to it’s ultimate success?
Devin Booker is obviously an extremely competitive player and seems to thoroughly enjoy a challenge. I do not believe that in the NBA there is a greater challenge than pulling this particular bottom-feeding franchise out of the bowels of the standings and pull the Suns back up to league prominence.
Booker knows he is very good and he knows that if/when his team does become a regularly successful one, if he remains at the heart of it, he will be celebrated in a manner deserving of a concurring hero by his team’s fans.
But before he can ever get to that point he has to stay here, and James Jones might be the one person who can convince him that remaining in Phoenix is the right decision.
The question is: has Jones spoken to him, and if so, is Devin Booker listening?