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Devin Booker calls Phoenix support ‘important’ to signing extension

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

LAS VEGAS — Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker spoke Monday at the NBA Summer League for the first time since signing a projected five-year, $158 million contract extension with the Phoenix Suns.

In discussing the decision to stay in Phoenix, Booker referenced the support and love for the sport he has seen in the city.

“Phoenix was the team that took a chance on me in the draft and I always said it since day one, I see the passion that the fans have, that the whole city has for the organization,” he said. “For me, that’s really important, being somewhere where people love the game of basketball like myself.”

With that comes the excitement around the town after drafting Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges.

“We all see it, we all feel it,” Booker said of the energy. “We’re ready to take that jump. No longer using young as an excuse.”

That jump will come with Trevor Ariza, a veteran forward who fits in perfectly with the shooting and defense the Suns need.

“Winning attitude, winning mindset,” Booker said of Ariza. “(He) has been a winner most of his career.”

Ariza has been in the league for 14 years and won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009.

“Trevor is a winner,” Booker said. “He knows what it takes to get there.”

In Vegas, Booker and Suns fans have seen a sneak peek of head coach Igor Kokoskov’s system and how it uses players like Ayton, Bridges, Josh Jackson and Dragan Bender.

Booker likes what he has been seeing.

“There’s a lot of spacing out there,” he said. “With the shooters we have, that’s what the game’s going towards. You gotta have people who can space the floor and make plays. Igor is letting the guards play pick-and-roll and feeding the big fella at the same time.”

With that space also comes the gravity of the big fella Ayton, who has been receiving his fair share of extra attention and double-teams through two games of play in Vegas.

“They can’t do that when I’m on the court,” Booker joked of his fit with the big man. “He won’t be able to get doubled.”

With those players has come a perfect storm of moves that have the franchise trending upward after a 21-win season.

Booker notes that every year we discuss how important moves X and Y are to the progression of the team, but this is the year you can really see it.

“I feel that this is the summer when you can see the moves are definitely matching that,” he said.

“I’m ready for it. I’m excited. Talking about it gets me even more excited. I’m ready to get out there and start winning some games.”

This, though, is about what he did off the court in signing the contract, a move he said really hasn’t hit him yet. What has hit him is deciding to stay in the Valley for the long haul, the place he wanted to be.

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs (in) my three years, but the city of Phoenix is where I want to call home,” he said.

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