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There are very few NBA teams that wouldn’t have some kind of use for a 23-year-old All-Star combo guard, but the Phoenix Suns stood out as one of the teams that could most benefit from adding Russell.
And yet, Russell reportedly didn’t get a call from the Suns. The reason why is ... something.
D’Angelo Russell is a bad influence?
According to the Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin, Suns star Devin Booker actively campaigned for the Suns to sign Russell, who is reportedly a good friend of Booker’s.
The Suns apparently believed Russell “wouldn’t have been a good influence on Booker off the court,” causing the team to pass on the guard.
It’s worth noting that Russell isn’t even a year older than Booker, but age probably isn’t even what we’re talking about here. Russell’s tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers seemed to leave plenty of bridges burnt due to his behavior.
Of course, Russell has since evolved into a leader of a playoff team, though he did get caught with some marijuana at an airport just two months ago (if the Suns don’t want a player who smokes weed though, their player pool just got a lot smaller going forward). Even Magic Johnson said Russell had matured enough to return to the Lakers.
It’s also worth wondering how Booker, who is an adult, might feel about how his team didn’t trust his word enough to sign one of his best friends despite being committed to him for the next four years.
The other significant reason the Suns didn’t go after Russell might have simply been cap space. Had the Suns committed to giving the nearly $30 million the Warriors gave Russell, the team would have been over the cap and might have had to find some wiggle room, per the Republic.
Suns ended up with Ricky Rubio instead
Instead of signing Russell, the Suns ended up with Ricky Rubio on a 3-year, $51 million deal, significantly lower than what Russell commanded. The team also agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal with Frank Kaminsky, per ESPN.
According to the Republic, Rubio wasn’t even the Suns’ top target at point guard. The team reportedly coveted Terry Rozier instead, but the former Boston Celtics guard worked his way to the Hornets instead on a 3-year, $58 million sign-and-trade.
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