NBA Rumor: Devin Booker Trade?

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Devin Booker doesn't want out of Phoenix

Is the sun setting for All-Star Devin Booker in Phoenix? During a recent episode of the Bill Simmons Podcast, Ryen Russillo said it’s “the worst kept secret” Booker wants a change of scenery. However, host John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Phoenix refuted that statement emphatically, calling it “garbage.” A league source also told HoopsHype there’s no truth to Booker wanting out of Phoenix.

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Devin Booker wants to leave Phoenix?

The Phoenix Suns are building their franchise around Devin Booker, but the All-Star guard may not want to stay with the team much longer. Per Ryen Russillo on The Bill Simmons Podcast (starts at 68:00 mark), it’s “the worst kept secret” in the NBA that Booker wants to leave the Suns. Booker’s name has been floated around in trade rumors since the summer. Marc Berman of the New York Post reported in July that the New York Knicks’ hiring of head coach Tom Thibodeaux and president Leon Rose could put them in play for the 24-year-old:

Rose also hired William Wesley for a role in the front office, who was his colleague at CAA. “There’s also a real fear in the NBA,” said Bill Simmons. “I’m fine talking about this. It’s rumor, heresy stuff. But it’s just a fact. Kentucky, Worldwide Wes had a great relationship with John Calipari. CAA’s got multiple Kentucky guys and there’s a real fear in the league that the Knicks are going to become the Kentucky pipeline team. “Devin Booker is a great example of that, right? Even though he’s on a big deal right now, at some point if he wanted to move out of there... “The league is kind of watching the Kentucky factor with that team.

DeAndre Ayton responds to Draymond Green's comments

“I need my man somewhere he can play great basketball all the time and win because he’s that type of player.” Suns big man Deandre Ayton was asked about Draymond’s opinion during a guest appearance on “The Woj Pod” with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “We definitely heard that noise. It was promoted everywhere,” the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft said. “It’s just outside noise. Book is a dude who really maintains focus, and he just wants to win. He’s a competitor at the highest peak there is in this league. “It’s contagious. Seeing how he plays out there every day — it just spreads. Him and I being the head honchos leading, so any noise like that is nonexistent to me.”

For Booker, the winning has been even sweeter, given some of the criticism he’s dealt with over the past few years because of all the losing. Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green said on Friday’s edition of “Inside the NBA” that “it’s not good for [Booker’s] career” to stay in Phoenix. “I feel like that’s important for this organization, for the fans that have stuck by us for this long and still do so,” Booker said when asked about Green’s comments. “Since I’ve been in Phoenix, we haven’t had the win success that we had, but the support’s been there. And this is what we owe to the fans, we owe to the organization. It’s been a long time for us and I think this bubble opportunity was big for us, and we’re taking advantage of it.”

Devin Booker was unhappy with Suns for not pursuing D'Angelo Russell

It became a topic of conversation over the weekend when the New York Post wrote, in a reader mailbag, that the player to “watch out for most” regarding a potential Knicks trade is Booker. The connection between Booker and the Knicks is clear: Leon Rose, New York’s president, used to be Booker’s agent at Creative Artists Agency. William “World Wide Wes” Wesley also has a relationship with Booker. Wesley is the Knicks’ executive vice president and a senior advisor to Rose. Any speculation about a Booker trade includes the assumption that the young star would force a trade from the Suns.

Something else that’s worth noting about Booker and the Suns: last summer, the Arizona Republic reported that the Suns chose not to pursue D’Angelo Russell, Booker’s close friend, in free agency because the club “apparently felt Russell wouldn’t have been a good influence on Booker off the court.” Booker, per league sources, wasn’t happy with the organization at the time of the report. The Arizona Republic noted that Booker had campaigned for club to sign Russell, who was a restricted free agent.

Knicks interested in Devin Booker?

However, since Leon Rose was hired as president, the player to watch out for most is Suns combo guard Devin Booker, according to league sources. If Rose hires Tom Thibodeau, Towns — a former Rose client — no longer makes sense because of their history. Booker and Towns were Rose clients who played at Kentucky, which means Knicks adviser William Wesley is close to each. Rose has done well with Kentucky standouts because of Wesley.

Booker, 23, made his first All-Star Game in February. Recent rumblings are Booker could get tired of the perennial losing in Phoenix, which is run by a spendthrift owner in Robert Sarver. “I think he’ll do unbelievable,’’ Booker said of Rose. “One of the most genuine guys I know. One of the most honest guys I know. So I’m happy for him in his new position. I think the Knicks are in really good hands.’’ Last week, Rose said he’s prepared to beef up the offensively challenged Knicks through “the draft, trades and free agency.’’

Former Atlanta Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox appeared on NBA TV on Monday and discussed six players who could be traded now, later this season and in the future. The list included Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul, Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love, Washington Wizard shooting guard Bradley Beal, Minnesota Timberwolves small forward Andrew Wiggins, Memphis Grizzlies small forward Andre Iguodala and Booker. Wilcox put Booker and Wiggins in the “future” category. “Of these six names, Chris Paul and (Andre) and Iguodala, we know that they’re in the trade market and they’re available,” said Wilcox during NBA TV’s 2019-20 regular-season schedule release special Monday. “Of these other four names, we can probably take (Andrew) Wiggins and (Devin) Booker into the future,” Wilcox continued.

For the teams looking to add Irving, locking him in before camp opens gives the acquiring team the best chance to fill in their roster around a ramped-up plan that includes Irving. League sources continue to label the Suns as the team with the right assets to obtain Irving, but they remain reluctant to include rookie Josh Jackson or third-year stud Devin Booker in any conversation. Jackson became trade eligible last week and recently joked at the Panini rookie photo shoot that he’d heard the rumors, but if it were going to happen, it would have happened by now.
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