EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Heading into offseason, Devin Booker believes Suns ‘changed’ culture

Apr 10, 2019, 5:20 PM | Updated: 10:04 pm
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and Devin Booker (1) in the first half during an NBA basketb...
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and Devin Booker (1) in the first half during an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns won two fewer games this season than last, but looking at strictly records will fool anyone trying to declare a stance on whether or not the Suns have progressed from year-to-year.

The biggest difference is after ending last season losing 32 of their last 36 games, Phoenix went 8-13 in its last 21 games to wrap up this season.

They found their Nos. 1 and 2 for the present and future in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton supported by complementary pieces like Mikal Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr. and T.J. Warren. Those 21 games, even through numerous injuries, were a peek at what’s possible for this group if they stick together and improve.

In a locker room and building that has been desperate for an alteration to the culture, Booker believes that has come.

“I think going into the summer, us as a team, we’re going to take those bright spots when we were playing really good basketball and be motivated by that,” he said. “The culture was changed at that time.”

That, and not a 19-63 mark, is what the Suns are focusing on.

Those stretches Booker references include winning five of seven at two separate points in the season.

In December, a rotation that couldn’t stop shuffling finally settled and was boosted by the arrival of Oubre.

In March, it was more change. Dragan Bender and Oubre’s insertion into the starting lineup along with Tyler Johnson’s presence had another encouraging period brought on.

“Those stretches gave us hope and we’re gonna build on those,” Booker said.

When Booker was asked about his future and how happy he is in Phoenix, he once again reiterated when it was going right.

“Those bright spots have been very bright and the young core that we have moving forward I’m very excited to be a part of,” Booker said.

In the meeting the team had together on Wednesday, Booker said it was an emphasis that they’ve seen what it looks like when it’s working and they know the potential is there.

“We should all take a little bit of that feeling and just want that all the time,” he said.

“This summer we can make tremendous strides to make that jump to the place we’re trying to get to.”

Penguin Air

Empire of the Suns

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) defends against Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) during ...
Kevin Zimmerman

Atop Kevin Durant wish list, it’s complicated for the Suns and Heat

No matter what the Phoenix Suns can offer for Kevin Durant, it'll be a complex trade to actually pull off a trade with the Brooklyn Nets.
22 hours ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns warms up before a game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Ho...
Kellan Olson

Devin Booker’s latest commitment to Phoenix Suns further cements legacy

Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker continues to commit to the city and is on his way to becoming the top player in franchise history.
2 days ago
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) becomes entangled with Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul during ...
Kevin Zimmerman

How the Suns will have the Kevin Durant trade discussion

The Phoenix Suns have shifted into discussing a Durant acquisition at least internally just after noon in Arizona.
2 days ago
General manager James Jones of the Phoenix Suns watches warm-ups to Game One of the Western Confere...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns offseason checklist: What needs to get done in free agency

This is the most difficult offseason for Suns GM James Jones since he got the job in 2019 and I doubt he sees a tougher one in the future.
2 days ago
Phoenix Suns guard Aaron Holiday (4) drives between Sacramento Kings guard Josh Jackson (55) and gu...
Kevin Zimmerman

Report: Suns opt against making Aaron Holiday restricted free agent

The Phoenix Suns will not extend a qualifying offer to backup guard Aaron Holiday, giving the team financial relief.
3 days ago
Dennis Schroder #17 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix ...
Kevin Zimmerman

Suns free-agency focus: Will there be a significant upgrade at guard?

The Phoenix Suns could shake up the backcourt to help Chris Paul and Devin Booker manage the load, but how likely is it via free agency?
22 hours ago
Heading into offseason, Devin Booker believes Suns ‘changed’ culture