Devin Booker had quite an interesting statement after his most recent game against Deandre Ayton. As some NBA fans might be aware, Ayton ended up joining the Portland Trail Blazers this offseason after being involved in a three-team deal that sent Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Losing Dame has certainly stunted the Blazers’ start to this season. At the moment, Portland currently holds a record of 3 wins and 11 losses and is recently coming off a loss to Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns. Considering that this was the first time that the Suns and Blazers faced off this season, Booker finally had a chance to play against his former teammate.
As fans who were watching the game will know, the Phoenix Suns defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in their In-Season Tournament group-stage matchup with a final score of 120-107.
After having defeated his former teammate, Booker was interviewed postgame. Now that we have the context, let us take a closer look and find out more.
Devin Booker challenges Deandre Ayton to maintain a high level of play
It would be a safe bet to say that Booker and Ayton were friends and continue to remain so even after his trade to the Portland Trail Blazers. Nonetheless, Devin took things seriously for this game and finished the night with 28 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds. In comparison, Ayton scored 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists for the Blazers.
Considering that Ayton has been averaging 12.6 points this season, there is no denying that he had quite a good game individually. Here is what Booker had to say when discussing his former teammate in the postgame interview.
“It’s fun, I think our first time in the regular season. I’m happy we came out with the win. He played extra hard tonight. I seen that, and my challenge for him is to play like that every night.”
Devin Booker on facing Deandre Ayton: “It’s fun….He played extra hard tonight. I seen that, and my challenge for him is to play like that every night.” pic.twitter.com/hLVeSPV3hq
— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) November 22, 2023
By challenging Deandre to maintain this level of play consistently, Booker might be indicating that his performance against the Suns was nothing more than a fluke and unsustainable. This might make fans wonder if there is any bad blood between Ayton and the Suns that has not been made public.
Deandre Ayton’s messy exit from the Suns
While many fans knew that a trade for Dame was on the verge of occurring throughout this offseason, not a lot of them saw Ayton’s exit from the Suns going down simultaneously. However, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to claim that the Phoenix Suns fanbase had seen this trade coming for quite some time.
Even before Dame requested a trade, there were several issues between Ayton and the Suns’ coaching\ management. He was labeled as toxic to the team chemistry and simply seemed to lack a motor when his team needed him the most.
As a result, the Suns seized their opportunity and entered the Lillard trade as a third team. By doing so, they managed to get rid of Deandre Ayton and acquire Jusuf Nurkic in return from the Portland Trail Blazers. We look forward to seeing how the Suns perform this season after having made several significant changes in the NBA offseason.