The New York Knicks have needed a floor general forever. Could Chris Paul actually be the answer at point guard?
“The Knicks, according to NBA sources, have been gathering intel on All-Star Chris Paul and could make a run at him this summer. Paul, 34, carries a huge contract but he’s had a resurgent season in OKC and is a proven leader,” wrote Isola.
The radio host also notes that Paul’s former agent was none other than Knicks president Leon Rose. If nothing else, that connection is certainly intriguing.
Despite the fact that many believed he was over the hill entering this season, Paul is having a resurgence with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The All-Star point guard is leading the Thunder to the playoffs even after the team traded away Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
In fact, Oklahoma City could finish with a better record this year than last year.
Paul is averaging 17.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game, which are down from his career averages. But it’s quite clear that he is the alpha on the team and the biggest reason for the unexpected Oklahoma City surge.
Despite his advancing age, Chris Paul would be an immediate upgrade for the Knicks at point guard. He is still capable of playing at an All-Star level and he would do wonders for RJ Barrett in the backcourt. This is indisputable, but Paul’s on-court prowess is not the only factor in play here.
Paul is due $41 million next season and if he picks up his player option on the 2021-22 season, he’ll make upwards of $44 million. The Knicks have more than enough cap flexibility to pull off a trade for a contract of that magnitude, but what would they be sending out for two years of Paul?
RJ Barrett or Mitchell Robinson? Hang up the phone.
The Knicks’ 2020 first-round pick? Thanks, but no thanks.
One of the Dallas Mavericks first-rounders acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster? That is a much better starting place in a potential package. Trading for Paul wouldn’t necessarily be a mistake, but giving up the moon and stars for him would be a blunder.
Assuming he’s healthy and plays at relatively the same level he is right now, Paul could transform the Knicks into a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. He’s already showing that he can lead a relatively young team to the playoffs in the far more difficult Western Conference.
A core group that consists of Paul, Barrett, Robinson, and a few proven vets would be right there in the mix for the seventh or eighth seed at the very least.
And so long as the Knicks aren’t giving away the future in a trade for Chris Paul, the organization might finally strike that balance between rebuilding for the long-term and competing in the short-term.
But knowing what we know about the Knicks, a trade for Paul could backfire in unexpected ways. Leon Rose wasn’t making the decisions, but New York’s recent history is littered with bad deals. The Porzingis trade continues to look like a disaster. The Andrea Bargnani trade sends shivers up the spines of Knicks fans everywhere.
Out of recent trades, pawning off Carmelo Anthony on the Thunder is the only true slam dunk. Sure, Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott are long gone, but the second-round pick New York received in the deal turned into Mitchell Robinson.
Searching for creative ways to improve the team is exactly what Leon Rose should be doing, but there’s no need to sell the farm for an old, albeit reliable, tractor.