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Devin Booker’s Knicks trade interest intensifies after Suns swept out of playoffs; report

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The Minnesota Timberwolves were always going to sweep the superstar-heavy Phoenix Suns. And somehow the Knicks have entered the chat with things reaching a boiling point after a failed season in Phoenix.

The Suns’ season ended in disappointing fashion, a 4-0 series sweep underscoring the difference between a team — like the championship-contending Timberwolves — and a mere collection of players, the identity and cohesion-less likes of which the Suns trotted onto the floor after swinging for the fences via a series of blockbuster trades last summer.

Kevin Durant is an elite scorer.

Devin Booker is, too.

And with Bradley Beal in the mix, the Suns immediately projected as an elite offensive team capable of gunning its way to victory on any given night.

But they don’t play defense, they don’t rebound, they don’t have a point guard, and the roster aside from the Phoenix Big 3 is largely composed of minimum players.

Plus Beal, who has a no-trade clause, never produced in the same stratosphere as his $50 million salary would indicate.

Now, the Suns are in NBA purgatory. They have three disgruntled stars, zero cap flexibility, zero draft picks and zero playoff victories to show for their splashy offseason agenda.

And if you watched ESPN’s First Take on Monday, the morning after the Timberwolves sent the Suns into a full-fledged implosion, you saw Stephen A. Smith say Booker, a star scoring guard who averaged 27 points and seven assists in Phoenix last season, now wants to play for — you guessed it — the New York Knicks.

“From what I’m being told — I don’t know if it’ll ever happen — Devin Booker wants to be in New York,” Smith said on the show. “That’s what I’m being told. Now, he might deny it. I haven’t spoken to him.

“I’m just telling you: The scuttlebutt in the NBA circles is — the brother wants to be in New York.”

If Booker wants to be in New York, and if Phoenix was willing to play ball, the Knicks have the assets to pull off a deal.

The Suns gave up every first and second-round pick at their disposal to put the trio of Durant, Booker and Beal on the floor.

The Knicks, meanwhile, only dealt second-round picks over two in-season trades (one for OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa, another for Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks) solely to have first-round picks available in case a player of Booker’s ilk were to become available.

The Knicks own each of their own first-round picks through 2031. They also own first-round picks from the Dallas Mavericks (2024) and Milwaukee Bucks (top-five protected in 2025), as well as the Detroit Pistons top-13 protected first in 2025, which is unlikely to convey.

As for second-round picks, the Knicks own their own seconds in 2027, 2030 and 2031. They also own the Utah Jazz pick in the upcoming 2024 NBA Draft; the Nets’ second-round pick in 2025; the less favorable of the Suns and Indiana Pacers picks in 2028; and the less favorable between the Pacers and Washington Wizards picks in 2030.

Any combination of these assets would be the starting point of a discussion should Booker become available sooner than his contract expiration date.

The Suns star has four more years on his deal worth $221 million and will be 31 years old when he hits unrestricted free agency.

Here’s where things get tricky: Booker’s cap hit for next season is $49.35 million, and he will make $61.2 million in 2028, the final year of his contract.

If the Suns were to get to the point of dealing Booker, the Knicks would need to be willing participants on a deal, too.

The Knicks would need to meet the salary requirement to take on the All-Star guard’s contract and can only take back 125 percent of the outgoing salary plus $250,000 in any deal.

This means to take back Booker’s $49.35 million salary, the Knicks would need to send roughly $39 million in outgoing player contracts.

The Knicks also have to factor in a contract extension with Anunoby, who is likely to decline the $19 million player option on the final year of his contract and renegotiate for a larger salary in free agency this summer. Isaiah Hartenstein will also become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

There’s also the current success to consider: The Knicks just took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs and are on the verge of their second consecutive trip to the second round of the playoffs.

And with the Milwaukee Bucks without both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, the Knicks could be four wins over the Indiana Pacers away from their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2000.

If they were to make it to the conference finals, they would in all likelihood run into the buzzsaw Boston Celtics, who had the NBA’s best record by a seven-game margin and the East’s best record by 14 games over the No. 2 Knicks.

This is why the front office has stockpiled its draft assets: Just in case a player of Booker’s caliber suddenly becomes available for trade.

Whether Booker wants out, and whether the Suns would be willing to deal him, are unknown.

What’s known is the Knicks front office will always look for ways to improve the roster.

And it’s always worth noting the Creative Artists Agency connection.

Knicks president Leon Rose was a mega player agent at CAA before he took the job at Madison Square Garden.

Booker was one of his clients.

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