Devin Booker signed a five-year max extension with the Phoenix Suns this offseason to become the face of a franchise looking to turn things around. The transaction was one of many for the Suns, who finished with the worst record in the NBA last season.
Based off their offseason moves, it's quite clear the Suns have intentions to drastically improve in 2018-19 behind rookie draft picks, productive veterans and a player in Booker, whom they paid $158 million to spearhead the rebuilding efforts.
"It's winning time," said Booker, who. "With that contract, and even before the contract, I felt that pressure to succeed for the city and the franchise. They took a chance on me to be that [max] guy, I know it comes with a lot of leadership and responsibility, but I think I'm built for it. I'm looking forward to next year a lot, with the additions to the team, we're in much better shape to have a much better season."
The Suns added a number of draft picks, including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton and No. 10 pick Mikal Bridges to the fold, giving them a dominant big man presence and a sharpshooter who can play both ways. Factor in a more experienced Josh Jackson and the offseason acquisition of Trevor Ariza, and it's safe to assume Phoenix could be moving quickly in the right direction.
"We're in the best shape we've been in since I've been a part of the franchise," Booker said. "With the trades we've made, and with Deandre. He had an unbelievable summer league, playing the right way, not forcing it, was still dominating on both sides of the floor. He'll be the down force threat we need to open up space for everybody else."
Booker, who appeared on "Reiter's Block" on behalf of EA Sports' upcoming release of NBA Live 19 on Sept. 7, says he's unclear if he's getting a boost in the overall rating in the new video game as compared to last year's version despite his new mega deal, but he's excited about the release and the new features that are included in it.
"The game is dope," he said. "They've added a lot to it. My favorite part is the female option. You can make a career now and be a female, so the progression in that way is a huge jump for the game that's going to gain a lot more fans for EA Sports."
As for the Suns' upcoming season, an improvement off last season's results is all but a foregone conclusion. They won just 21 games in 2017-18 to help snag the top overall pick, but behind Booker and a wealth of talented youngsters, Phoenix has a chance to make steady improvement next season as it works toward getting back to a playoff team in the loaded Western Conference.