PHOENIX SUNS

Kokoskov: Suns show love to Booker, not overreacting to Bender’s play

Jul 9, 2018, 12:19 PM | Updated: 2:30 pm
Follow @kzimmermanaz...

It’s safe to say Phoenix Suns coach Igor Kokoskov enters his first NBA season with his star player in a good mood.

Devin Booker secured his future with the franchise over the weekend, inking a five-year, projected $158 million contract extension to remain with Phoenix. For a franchise with few things certain in recent years, it was an unsurprising move to lock down the 21-year-old sharpshooter.

Asked to analyze such a maneuver Monday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta, Kokoskov laid it out simply.

“My grandfather used to say, ‘Don’t tell me you love me. Show me,'” the Suns coach said. “We showed Devin how much we love him and how much we believe he is the face of the franchise.

“He’s still a young player. So much space and room for him to improve in every aspect, every part of the game.”

Booker averaged 24.9 points, 4.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game last season, his third in the NBA. After making just $3.3 million his final year of a rookie contract next season, Booker’s salary leaps to an estimated $27.3 million in 2019-20, depending on where the NBA’s salary cap is set.

No overreacting in Summer League

As rookie center Deandre Ayton took a major leap forward from his first Vegas Summer League outing to his second as the Suns beat Dallas and Sacramento to open play, second-year forward Dragan Bender remained under the microscope as the most seasoned Suns player on the roster.

Bender has yet to impress.

While his solid defense has gone under-the-radar, Bender is 2-of-12 from the field and has scored just five points over 46 minutes played over two games. He’s added eight rebounds and a team-high eight turnovers over that span.

“We’re going to continue to coach and teach and support him,” Kokoskov said Monday. “He has to play with more confidence because he’s got nothing but support coming from the Phoenix Suns organization. I wouldn’t overreact — he didn’t have the best two games of his life but that’s another reason why he’s here.

“I’m not overreacting over not-impressive game(s). He has to play the game. We can’t play the game for him.”

Free throw

Second-year forward Josh Jackson will again suit up Monday night as Phoenix plays the Orlando Magic and the Suns will play his future contributions by ear moving forward.

Jackson took an elbow to his face Saturday against the Sacramento Kings but returned from a bloodied ride on the bench donning a mask.

“Unfortunately he got a couple stitches above his eye. He came back and he said, ‘I want to play’,” Kokoskov said. “He didn’t go through the training camp just to play two games.”

Jackson has gone 7-of-28 (25 percent) from the floor, scoring 22 points, grabbing six boards and recording three assists in 41 minutes through two games.

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Phoenix Suns

JUNE 28: Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns and Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers tangle duri...
Nicholas Hodell

Suns’ Cam Johnson has renewed shot confidence, added experience

Forward Cameron Johnson is among the many Phoenix Suns players who learned a lot about what it takes to succeed during, and even before, Phoenix's playoff run.
14 hours ago
Follow @AZSports...
Haboob Blog

Mikal Bridges sees Phoenix sports fandom, even thanks to ‘little Red Sea’

"I'm a Rams fan so I see everybody killing me about the Cardinals. They're diehard for their little Red Sea," Suns wing Mikal Bridges said.
14 hours ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns talks with Mikal Bridges #25 and Deandre Ayton #22 during the f...
Kellan Olson

Young Suns roster set to see big returns from NBA Finals experience

The Phoenix Suns spoke on what they learned from their NBA Finals run that will help them this season.
2 days ago
Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams, second from left, hugs Chris Paul, left, and Jae Crowder, s...
Kellan Olson

Suns face another quick turnaround as NBA resets back to default calendar

The Phoenix Suns making the NBA Finals last year was a huge accomplishment. It also has them facing the shortest turnaround for this season.
2 days ago
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns, Torrey Craig #12, and Mikal Bridges #25 celebrate defeating ...
Kevin Zimmerman

Suns’ Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges still up for extensions as camp begins

Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. earned the fourth max rookie extension for players in the 2018 NBA Draft class.
2 days ago
Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) drives to the basket against Phoenix Suns guard Camero...
Kevin Zimmerman

Suns found different ways to move on from NBA Finals loss

Monty Williams and Suns players all took different approaches to accepting, reflecting and moving on from the NBA Finals loss.
2 days ago
Kokoskov: Suns show love to Booker, not overreacting to Bender’s play