Leon Rose didn’t get his man.
Veteran point guard Chris Paul is not heading to the Big Apple but the Valley of the Sun, with ESPN reporting Phoenix and Oklahoma City have finalized a deal with the trade moratorium lifted Monday.
The Knicks’ rookie president had a pipe dream of trading for his favorite client when he ran the Creative Artists Agency, but in the end he did not heavily pursue the 35-year-old point guard by offering a trove of future assets.
The Post had reported OKC was most enamored with the Knicks’ 2018 lottery pick, Kevin Knox. Rose thought Paul could be the consummate leader that would’ve helped reinforce Tom Thibodeau’s new culture.
However, The Post has learned Knicks GM Scott Perry had misgivings about adding a 35-year-old point guard considering where the franchise was.
The Suns deal was sizeable, with ESPN reporting point guard Ricky Rubio, sharpshooting forward Kelly Oubre and a 2022 pick are headed to the rebuilding Thunder. Three other throw-ins include Abdel Nader, Ty Jerome, and Jalen Lecque.
It’s an offer that likely would have been tough for Rose to top.
Phoenix, after an 8-0 record in the Orlando restart, will be knocking on the playoff door with Paul joining Devin Booker in the backcourt, Deandre Ayton at center and rising young defensive forward Mikal Bridges.
According to a source, Paul’s top preference was going back to the Clippers now that coach Doc Rivers is gone. Indications were Paul had mixed feelings about joining the rebuilding Knicks.
“I love the deal for Phoenix,” one NBA executive said. “They got rid of players they really didn’t want anymore and added a piece that will not only help (Devin) but really help Ayton.”
The Knicks are still trying to solve their point-guard puzzle and will monitor the Russell Westbrook Sweepstakes as the Rockets figure out their new direction.
The Knicks believe they have leverage because most teams don’t have the cap space to absorb the three years left on Westbrook’s contract. Westbrook is 32 – three years younger than Paul.
The Knicks enter the draft Wednesday with the 8th and 27th picks of the first round. If they don’t go with a PG at No. 8, they may turn to one at No. 27 with Frenchman Theo Maledon high on their list. The Knicks could well go with either two-way wing prospects in Devin Vassell or Isaac Okoro.
Free agency begins Friday and the Knicks believe they need a starting point guard. Some PG names on the radar include D.J. Augustin and Jeff Teague. Meanwhile, free agent Goran Dragic recently said he would explore the market and his re-signing with Miami, thought to be a given, is not. Fred VanVleet is the top PG available but some in the Knicks organization are concerned about maxing him out.