Knicks may have difficulty pursuing Suns superstar guard in trade if they choose to do so

Devin Booker, Knicks
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are in search of an available superstar to add to an already talented roster, and Fred Katz of The Athletic noted that Phoenix Suns’ superstar guard Devin Booker could be the missing piece for the Knicks to become finals contenders.

“Booker, if Phoenix ever chose to trade him, would become the obvious name for the Knicks. Durant is in his mid-30s. Beal has a no-trade clause. Booker fits the superstar moniker, someone who’s been in the top four in MVP voting and has made two All-NBA teams. He’s only 27. And, like with many of the other speculated targets for New York, he’s a CAA client, a member of the same agency that Knicks president Leon Rose once ran,” Katz wrote.

Devin Booker could be on the move this offseason

Apr 28, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (9) guards Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) during the second half of game four of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Booker’s Suns just played their first season with a big three of him, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal, and were a major letdown. They finished as the sixth seed in the Western Conference and got swept by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of this year’s playoffs. On top of that, they essentially have no future to depend on, with no first-round draft picks in their possession until the end of this decade.

Therefore, Phoenix has difficult decisions to make this summer about whether or not now is the time to blow it all up and start over. From a roster standpoint, Booker would fit perfectly onto this Knicks team. Despite Donte DiVincenzo’s uprising this past season, the team likely still wants an upgrade at the shooting guard position that provides incredible scoring prowess in the backcourt with Jalen Brunson, allowing DiVincenzo to lead the bench’s offensive production.

Booker is still an elite scoring threat

This past season, Booker was the sixth-leading scorer in the NBA with 27.1 points per game and shot 49.2% from the field and 36.4% from three. He thrived in the playoffs despite the team’s struggles, averaging 27.5 points on similar efficiency in that first-round series against Minnesota, including a 49-point performance in Game 4.

It would be difficult for the Knicks to pull off a trade for Booker

Dec 15, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives between New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) and  guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) in the first half at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

However, Katz added that making a trade with the Suns directly would be a nearly impossible task thanks to new rules about the first and second apron, which may force the Knicks to pivot elsewhere in the trade market unless they can get an additional team involved in a deal for Booker. Both teams are projected to be above the first apron next offseason, meaning that neither the Suns nor the Knicks can take in more money than give out, according to Katz.

“It would take the Knicks tearing down their roster for them to avoid going above the first apron next summer. Jalen Brunson will be on a new contract, which will include a significant raise, whether he signs the extension this summer or re-signs as a free agent in 2025. Julius Randle, a free agent in 2025, is due for an increase. OG Anunoby, assuming he’s back, will be on a giant contract. Isaiah Hartenstein, (assuming he’s back, as well), Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo will all make eight figures. Meanwhile, the Suns’ payroll will resemble the GDP of a small country,” Katz wrote.

One of the things that made the Knicks such a strong unit last season was their on-court chemistry. Despite an unprecedented amount of injuries, the Knicks were able to win games because of this group’s unity, and that has now become the franchise’s identity moving forward. After seeing the potential of this team last season, it is unlikely that New York will be willing to blow it all up before getting a better look at a fully healthy roster to acquire a player like Booker.

Would trading for Booker disrupt the Knicks’ chemistry?

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau high fives New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) with guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) and forward OG Anunoby (8) and guard Jalen Brunson (11) during the first quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Along with the financial complications such a deal brings, it could also disrupt the culture setting this current group has put on display, and that’s a risk the Knicks would truly need to be willing to take if they wish to acquire Booker.

Perhaps next summer things will be different. Maybe the Knicks will want to shed more salary and not be as aggressive in trying to extend Julius Randle, which could help them acquire another star talent in the event Booker is off the table as well. However, the Suns’ financial situation might be too dire for the Knicks to conduct business with them regardless of how the Knicks handle next summer’s free agents. While Booker is an outstanding player who could elevate the ceiling of this Knicks team, the amount that both teams would have to surrender to make a deal work might not make this idea a match made in heaven.

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