The NBA recently released the entire version of the 2019-20 schedule, hosting an entire event on NBATV dedicated to breaking down the important games for the upcoming season.
Former NBA General Manager of the Atlanta Hawks, Wes Wilcox, was on the air to provide some commentary and, eventually, the conversation led into players he believed could be on the move in the future.
Some of the players listed were obvious: Chris Paul (Thunder) and Kevin Love (Cavaliers). Andre Iguodala (Grizzlies) was on the list and is widely expected to find his way to a contender by the time the playoffs roll around. Also making the list was Bradley Beal (Wizards), John Wall’s running mate in D.C., who has also been involved in trade rumors throughout the summer (specifically with the Miami Heat). Then we get into the bigger contracts for players still under 25, such as Andrew Wiggins (Timberwolves) and Devin Booker (Suns).
"Chris Paul and (Andre) Iguodala, we know that they're in the trade market and they're available. Of these other 4 names, we can probably take (Andrew) Wiggins and (Devin) Booker into the future." Former #Hawks GM Wes Wilcox on @NBATV
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) August 12, 2019
Wilcox tabs Booker and Wiggins as “future” players on the trading block.
Booker is about to enter the first year of his recent five-year, $158 million extension, and at 22-years old has already been the face of the franchise for a couple of seasons now. The thought of trading Booker right now seems highly unrealistic, but something that shouldn’t be glossed over when looking forward.
Obviously, the Minnesota Timberwolves would love to get off of Wiggins outstanding five-year, $147 million deal. Whereas the Suns had no issue giving Booker even more money. Booker is also two years younger than Wiggins and the obvious choice when choosing between the two. So why would the Suns want to potentially trade him?
Well, there are several reasons, and there’s some precedent to them, too.
Phoenix is entering that stage where they need to identify if Booker can become a player of a high enough caliber that can lead them to an NBA Championship. This team isn’t going to be losing games on purpose anymore (at least to start the season) and Booker is expected to lead them to any success they might encounter. If he doesn’t show those signs this season, is it time they rework their rebuild? Phoenix also has Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, promising youngsters they could shift more focus to if things don’t work out with Booker.
Because there might be a point where the return on trading Booker is higher than the cost of keeping him. The Suns have a load of young players on small contracts they could hope to develop. Experimenting with them might be a route they take, although not one I would venture down. If the opportunity to bring in an elite young player along with future picks presents itself, it might be worth at least poking around if you’re the Suns.
I don’t believe that Phoenix is truly even entertaining the thought of trading Booker. He’s a player that has grown to be more effective and more efficient the more often he has the ball in his hands. As his usage rate has spiked, so has his shooting percentages. He was thrown into playing both guard positions last season and thrived as the team’s only reliable scorer. You don’t just trade someone like him away unless it’s a King’s ransom. We’re talking a haul that would embarrass the deal that sent Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs to the Toronto Raptors.
And unless Phoenix knows it can lure in another player(s) that are just as good or promise to be better than Booker, trading him would be a fool’s move. All five of the other players listed by Wilcox make sense that they could be traded this year, and the only reason I might bite on the idea of Booker being dealt is the decade-worth of incompetent decision making from the front office in Phoenix.
The Suns are going to be a ton of fun this year, even if they don’t make the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference. Unless Booker pulls an Anthony Davis and requests out, he’s going to be the heart and soul of this squad for the foreseeable future.