Suns’ Booker has one focus: Win games, make the playoffs
Devin Booker is sick of it. Sick of not being in the postseason. Sick of being a spectator when the games matter most.
“I’m done with not making the playoffs. I’m serious,” Booker said Wednesday as the Suns conducted their exit interviews following a 21-61 season. “This is probably the last year I’m ever not making the playoffs. That’s putting pressure on myself I need. I’m watching these games right now with teams trying to clinch and the playoff atmosphere of those games and those are the games I want to be in.”
There’s been recent speculation that Booker is so fed up with the Suns’ losing ways he might not sign the five-year,
$156 million rookie contract extension Phoenix likely will offer him this summer. Booker, without making a firm commitment, put those fears to rest.
“Don’t believe in nonsense,” he said. “With TV, they need something to talk about. I’ve always mentioned since my first day here that I fell in love with this city, I fell in love with the fan base and the dedication they showed to the team.
“I always think about turning the franchise around, to get it back how it used to be. I watch the highlights of (Charles) Barkley and (Steve) Nash and how alive the arena was. One of my goals is to get it back that way.”
Booker averaged career highs in points (24.9), assists (4.7) and rebounds (4.5) this season, becoming only the third player 21 or younger to average at least 24 points, four assists and four rebounds over an entire season. The others: LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
But an assortment of injuries limited Booker to only 54 games, one reason he plans on strengthening his body over the summer. In addition to having a chef cook for him, Booker is hiring a full-time trainer.
“I’ll have somebody with me fulltime, all the time,” he said. “I did at spots last summer. I’d go to Orangetheory for a week straight, but now I’m about to have somebody with me to take me to the gym and work on exactly what my body needs.
“You see LeBron right now, and they say he spends over a million dollars on his body every year. I can’t do that. But you have to take care of your body because the season is a wear and tear on you.”
Booker admitted it’s been difficult to handle 178 losses over his first three seasons. But he’s convinced that will make the payoff all the sweeter.
“Right now I see the beauty of the struggle,” he said. “So once that success starts happening, it will make it even better from knowing what we went through as a team and went through as young players. The league has been beating us up right now. I think it will be motivation for us. I know for myself working out I think about that all time. I never want to be in these situations again.”
Suns guard Devin Booker meets the press at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Wednesday to sum up the Suns’ season.