EMPIRE OF THE SUNS
ESPN: All-NBA voting likely to greatly cost Devin Booker
The flood of Devin Booker opining that followed each of his recent back-to-back 50-point outbursts probably reflects reality.
Because pundits didn’t whisper or whine about Booker being snubbed from the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, it seems the Phoenix Suns guard won’t make an All-NBA Team.
That fact greatly impacts the team’s financial situation moving forward, if only because Booker is missing out on a large chunk of change.
Booker signed a max contract extension for five years and $158 million. The deal kicks in next season, and the total number will be firm to start July when next year’s league salary cap is set. The $158 million is spread out in increasing values each year but begins in 2019-20 at 25 percent of the projected cap for next season.
But here’s another reason the salary is not exactly set: Booker’s yearly salary could be up to 30 percent of the cap if he’d made an All-NBA team, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
The guard will pay the financial price for a Suns team on the verge of losing 60 games for a second consecutive season, leading to Booker being labeled one-dimensional by some around the league.
Despite a career season on the offensive end — 26.5 PPG (ninth overall in scoring), 35.2 MPG, 46.2 FG% and 6.7 APG — Booker is a minus on the defensive end (-2.63 in ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus) with a career-worst 114.5 defensive rating.
Booker’s contract could jump to $189 million, $180.2 million or $173.8 million if he makes one of the three All-NBA teams, according to Marks.
But despite Booker’s strong season, the reporters and broadcasters who vote on the All-NBA teams aren’t likely to vote him to one of the three teams.
Does Booker deserve an All-NBA bid?
He’s averaging 26.5 points, 6.7 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game this year while shooting 46 percent and 33 percent from three.
Of the seasons where a player has averaged more than 25 points, four rebounds and six assists per game during a full season, only twice out of 70 times has a player not made the All-Star game. Booker counts for one.
The other was Damian Lillard’s 2016 snubbing, which was quite public and still led to the Portland guard earning a Second Team All-NBA honor at the end of the season.
Is there a chance Booker follows a similar path?
Gut feeling considering how poor the Suns have been, the criticism of Booker’s game and the lack of acknowledging the dire situation the organization has placed around the 22-year-old star makes it seem unlikely.
Also included in Marks’ list of contract questions as the season winds to a close is Suns forward T.J. Warren’s bonus for his three-point shooting.
Worth $255,000, Marks reports that the forward is a measly five three-point attempts away from meeting one of two criteria to earn the pay upgrade. He’s taken 180 threes this year and hit 42.8 percent, well above the other criteria for the bonus: hitting 37 percent from deep.
It looks like Warren took the bonus seriously — or it was a coincidence — after he took exactly half the amount of threes (90) last season and hit 22 percent before reworking his shot this summer.
Warren has dealt with a sore ankle that’s kept him out of action since Jan. 22, and while the Suns haven’t shut him down, it remains to be seen if he will return to earn that bonus.
Maybe the team could do him a solid and pay him for the improvements, even if he falls five attempts short.