Monty Williams knew it would be a trudge through the mud to make the Suns a competitor again. That's why he coined his now-famous phrase, "Everything you want is on the other side of hard." Devin Booker, hoping to put a halt to the revolving door of head coaches he's played under, bought in immediately, and repeated that slogan back to the press.
Winning basketball games is tough. Leaving your new girlfriend, who happens to be American royalty (we've done this to ourselves) after just over a month of dating? That's hard.
Booker and Kendall Jenner - the sister of Kylie Jenner and half sister of Khloe and Kim Kardashian - were seen this week coming out of a Sushi restaurant in Malibu. It's their third public sighting since April. Sources say they're just "hooking up," but I know young love when I see it. They're totally in the "pink cloud" stage. You know - the first six months, when you lose all your friends, gain 10 pounds, and show up late to work a few times.
I fear that Booker is in offseason mode. I couldn't blame him if he was.
Last we saw of Deandre Ayton, he was playing video games on Twitch.
A few Suns showed up to their on-the-fly facility to get some reps in, but Oubre, Ayton and Booker were nowhere to be found, at least officially.
Let's be honest: Players know what this 22-team format is. It's a way to get Zion Williamson into the dance, and to earn LeBron, Giannis or Kawhi an asterisk-free title. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, that's enough to make 40-50 players hesitant to show up.
It's Monty Williams' job to make sure no Phoenix Suns are a part of that group. Williams is the epitome of a grown-up. He's totally non-reactionary, he preaches patience, and he's been through personal turmoil. I'd argue maturity defines his brand.
I see Kaminsky getting up shots, hoping for a career resurgence. I see Javon Carter putting in work, laying the ground work to be an "effort guy" that hangs around the NBA a few years longer than his talent calls for. I see Mikal Bridges showing up, hoping that his minutes don't slip again next season.
Where are the thoroughbreds?
Of course, it is only June 11th. Training camps aren't supposed to open up until mid July. That gives Booker at least a few more weeks to galavant, and Ayton and Oubre more time to live their best life (or continue doing awesome things for the Phoenix community.)
Remember, though, the Suns are the third-youngest team in the NBA, and they'll be locked in an Orlando bubble for at least a month.
Hopefully, Devin Booker can lock it up by then. It would make Monty Williams's job a lot easier.