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NBA free agency grades: Mixed reactions on Suns’ Ricky Rubio signing

Utah Jazz guard Ricky Rubio (3) pushes the ball up court as Phoenix Suns guard Mike James (55) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The NBA free agency period began Sunday night and the Phoenix Suns were quick to grab their point guard.

The Suns have agreed to sign former Utah Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio to a three-year, $51 million deal, according to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro.

The addition has gotten mixed reactions from different NBA writers around the country as the first day of the agreement period comes to an end.

Here’s what some of those writers said about the Rubio signing.

The Ringer’s D.J. Foster

Grade: C+

Foster likes the idea of the Suns bringing in Rubio and said it will help take the load off of Devin Booker, plus give the young players more open shots. However, he also mentioned that Phoenix did overpay for Rubio.

Rubio will make Phoenix a lot more fun: He’ll throw lobs to Deandre Ayton and he’ll create open shots for young players still finding their footing in the league. Devin Booker will get a break from doing literally everything, which is probably for the best, and Rubio will defend the tougher assignment and be the likable, unselfish veteran Phoenix has often lacked. Is it an overpay? Probably, but if Rubio can help the Suns establish a real offensive identity and make Booker’s time on the court slightly less miserable, it’s an easier pill to swallow.

The Athletic’s Zach Harper

Grade: B

Harper had a more positive outlook on the signing. He also said Rubio was overpaid, but it might work out for the Suns.

If he returns to being the player of two years ago, this is a great deal for the Suns. If he plays like he did last season, it’s still a pretty significant upgrade for the Suns at that position. They just have to worry about the money in year three of the contract not being justifiable.

The reality of Booker having a solid point guard should benefit him greatly, according to Harper. He mentions that Booker could have an easier time scoring with Rubio’s playmaking ability.

Rubio is the playmaker the Suns need. He’ll be able to set up Booker when he plays off-ball. Rubio will deliver passes to Booker in a way he’s never experienced before. A lot of those tough buckets for Booker become much easier, and maybe that helps him get into even more of a rhythm. That’s a pretty scary thought for a lot of guys guarding Booker each night.

Rubio should also help the Suns on defense and in rebounding.

On the defensive end of the floor, Rubio can be a great difference-maker. He has a tendency to gamble a little too much, but a lot of those gambles lead to disruptions, deflections, and steals for his team. Rubio is also a good rebounder for the point guard position, so he can help the Suns with that, as well.

Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp

Grade: D

There was no context to the reason why Sharp gave the Suns a grade of D. But, the linked tweet in the article suggests that dumping the T.J. Warren contract to sign Rubio was not a good way to spend money on their new point guard.

HoopsHabit’s (Fansided) Gerald Bourguet

Grade: B

According to Bourguet, who is the Suns’ lead reporter for HoopsHabit, the team’s two stars should benefit greatly from the addition of Rubio.

He won’t create space for Booker in the backcourt, nor is he a prolific spot-up shooter who can capitalize on catch-and-shoot looks when Book has the ball in his hands. However, he’s a seasoned vet with experience on playoff teams. He will create easier looks for Booker and especially for Deandre Ayton in the pick-and-roll (6.1 assists per game last year), and he defends well enough to help cover up for some of Book’s flaws on that end.

Bourguet also mentions that fans shouldn’t expect Rubio to be a game changer, but the addition will certainly help the team’s young stars going forward.

He won’t help Phoenix move up the standings by himself, but if Booker and Ayton continue on their path to stardom, and if Mikal Bridges takes the next step as a 3-point threat, Rubio will be an excellent complementary piece on both ends of the floor.

Rubio averaged 12.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game last season with the Jazz.

The 28-year-old guard is known for his pass-first mentality and is a good defender who averaged 1.3 steals per game.

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