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Devin Booker on D’Angelo Russell: ‘I would love to play with him’

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

No, no, Devin Booker has not requested a trade to the Nets. It was just his way (we think) of expressing respect for his friend, D’Angelo Russell. The two have been fast friends since they were in ninth grade and met at Elite 100 camp. They even vacationed together this summer. (Ironically, Tuesday was the first time the two played against each other!)

They were both taken in the 2015 NBA Draft, Russell second and Booker 13th. Since then, Booker has become a legitimate NBA star, youngest player to score 70 in a game with the Suns and is averaging 25 points a game this year. Russell’s career so far has been more of an up-and-down affair, some big games but ridden by injury and controversy.

Russell would like something that his buddy already has, a max contract. The Suns extended and Russell accepted a five-year, $158 million deal, all of it guaranteed. DLo will have to wait till the summer to see what the Nets will offer him and if it’s not the max, then he’ll no doubt consider other offers (that the Nets can always match.)

Booker thinks his guy in Brooklyn has great potential, laying it all out to Greg Logan.

“We’ve seen him since Ohio State and all the things that he can do,” Booker told Newsday before the Suns were shut down by the Nets, 104-82, Tuesday night. “I mean, he has the ‘clutch gene,’ he has the ‘it factor.’

“I would love to play with him. He makes people around him better. He’s a dynamic player. He has the utmost confidence in himself that I don’t think will change ever. That’s why we have the relationship that we do.”

When Logan relayed Booker’s comments to Russell, he was impressed. He met them with gratitude.

“Wow. I mean, you never know. It’s not something I really can control. But no one would ever have thought K.D. and Steph [Warriors stars Kevin Durant and Steph Curry] would be on the same team either. When you come from a long relationship, if you end up on the same team one day, that would be really great.”

He did not name the team but both Russell and Booker are looking at long careers. Russell is 22, the fourth youngest player on the Nets; Booker is 22, sixth youngest on the Suns.

Of course, at this point, Booker is looking at a five-year deal starting next July and the franchise player moniker. Russell is having a good season that’s improving almost daily —he had one turnover in the Nets two wins this week— but the face of the Nets is pretty much a three-headed monster with DLo, Caris LeVert and Jonathan Allen sharing the spotlight.

Things change, of course. Pairings come and go. And the season is very long.