The Knicks have a major competitor for Chris Paul, their top choice at point guard. And if Russell Westbrook hits the trade market, the Knicks may have a challenger for him, too.
ESPN reported the Suns have been in talks that are gaining traction with the Thunder in a deal for Paul, who is a former client of Knicks president Leon Rose when Rose was an agent.
Paul played for Suns coach Monty Williams when in New Orleans in 2010 and ’11. To boot, the Suns have cap space to absorb a part of Paul’s enormous contract that has two years and $85 million left on it.
The Knicks have shown interest, too, but reportedly Oklahoma City’s asking price has been too high. The Post has reported the Thunder like one of the Knicks’ prospects, Kevin Knox.
Sources have told The Post that Paul prefers to play for a winning organization but still considers New York an attractive destination. The Suns went a remarkable 8-0 during the seeding games in the Orlando bubble, but fell just shy of the 8-9 play-in game.
The Suns are building around Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and defensive-minded small forward Mikal Bridges, whom the Knicks passed on in the 2018 draft at No. 9 to take Knox. Former Knicks coach David Fizdale said last Friday in an interview that Paul would be great for the Knicks’ young players but joining the Knicks wouldn’t be so good for his career as he looks to compete for a title.
Meanwhile, the Rockets have vehemently denied they would shop Westbrook after the departure of longtime GM Daryl Morey. The Post reported earlier executives believe the Rockets could be amenable to listening to offers and the Knicks would have interest.
The Ringer reported executives still believe Westbrook could be had despite their proclamation, and the Clippers and Knicks would have the most interest. Westbrook turns 32 on Thursday, compared to Paul’s 35.
New Rockets GM Rafael Stone indicated Houston wants to compete for a title with Westbrook and James Harden.
“We’re still all-in,” Stone said. “Our goal is to win a championship. We’ll do anything we can to get us closer to that goal. The good news is we have really, really good basketball players. I’m getting a talented roster that has already won; not to the level we want but won in a big way. It’s about being very smart to keep the good stuff and be additive. You don’t want to do anything rash. You want to see if there are changes that will help.”
It would seem if the Rockets made a Westbrook move, it would be for players who can impact now. The Knicks don’t have those assets.
Rose has explored going big-game hunting but recent indications are he’s probably not going to be able to pull off a blockbuster in the short window before training camp opens on Dec. 1. The draft is Nov. 18 followed by free agency Nov. 20.
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