2. D’Angelo Russell
Assuming (correctly) that the Suns couldn’t even get in the room with a Kyrie Irving or a Kemba Walker this summer, D’Angelo Russell represents their white whale. The fit here just makes too much sense, especially if Irving (and another star) joins the Brooklyn Nets and ousts D-Lo in the process.
Russell is coming off his first All-Star season, and though that designation came by virtue of playing in the East, he broke out in a way his fans had always dreamed of, averaging a career-high 21.1 points, 7.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game on 36.9 percent shooting from distance.
He’s only 23 years old, so he fits Phoenix’s timeline for contention perfectly. He’s now led a team to the playoffs, he’s improved his 3-point shooting, he’d take a ton of pressure off Booker to do everything on offense and he’s even friends with the Suns’ franchise star.
So of course, Arizona Sports‘ John Gambadoro believes he’s not a real option for Phoenix:
Whether this is verifiable fact or just Gambo’s opinion remains to be seen, but ESPN‘s Zach Lowe provided some insight on the situation as well, clarifying that while Booker himself is high on the idea of adding his pal D-Lo, those in the organization aren’t so gung-ho about it.
It’d be easy to roll one’s eyes and chalk it up to “classic Suns,” but paying Russell a max deal starting at $27 million a year is no light prospect either. While he’d undoubtedly raise the talent level in Phoenix, make Booker happy and fit in perfectly with the team’s timeline, he’s also a sieve defensively and may wind up being drastically overpaid after a career/contract year.
If Russell expresses interest, it’d take dumping Josh Jackson for nothing and either trading Tyler Johnson (which would require a future draft asset to move his $19.2 million salary) or stretching and waiving him. That’s ugly business, and Russell will have no shortage of suitors. This is an unlikely option, but one that may quickly become the frontrunner if he’s legitimately interested in joining the Suns.