With the hiring of their new team president in former player agent Leon Rose, the New York Knicks are ushering in a new era for the franchise. During his time as an agent, Rose has established personal connections with players, and Knicks fans are hoping that the organization becomes more player-centered in re-structuring their roster. They also recently brought in a new head coach in Tom Thibodeau, instilling a no-nonsense culture for one of the hottest basketball cities in the world.
Having said that, speculations have it that the Knicks are looking at All-Star point guard Chris Paul as a possible trade target. The 35-year old playmaker will not become a free agent until 2022, so the only possible route to get him to the Big Apple is through a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. So, do the Knicks have to offer a trade package for Paul’s services? We can’t speak for the Knicks front office, but there’s no doubt that it will be a high-risk, low-reward move.
Knicks have to give up a plethora of assets to the Thunder
Let’s not forget that Paul will come in with a monster contract that would amount to $44 million during the 2021-22 season. It’s a sure thing that the Knicks have to move Julius Randle, along with a couple more players just to match Paul’s salary. Randle may not be the star that they aimed to land in last year’s free agency, but the lefty all-around big man is still young at 25. He complements the timeline of the other Knicks youngster like RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and the potential top five pick they could select in this year’s draft.
More than that, Thunder general manager Sam Presti is one of the best in the business in landing valuable future draft picks and young assets. Presti won’t be satisfied in a trade package of Randle and a couple of veterans, especially with how well Paul is playing this season. Are the Knicks willing to let go of either Kevin Knox or Frank Ntilikina in the package?
Paul’s arrival diminishes Knicks’ hope of landing a big-time star in 2021 free agency
As already mentioned, CP3’s massive contract extends until 2022. He can actually opt out of it before the 2021-22 season, but the veteran guard will be unwise to turn down a $44 million payday. That will also mean that the Knicks will be stripped of the golden opportunity to land two max free agents in the 2021 offseason, a year when top-tier stars such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, and Paul George could become available.
Sure, Paul would be a big boost in terms of instilling a winning culture and serving as an excellent mentor for a young budding star like Barrett. But Thibodeau‘s influence could be more than enough to convert Barrett into a two-way star, as well as groom the Knicks’ rookie prospect next season.
Lastly, it is being rumoured that the team is already bent on doing everything to get the 6-foot-8 point guard LaMelo Ball in the draft. Of course, LaMelo could benefit from the mentorship that Paul would provide him. But it’s still uncertain if Paul would accept a role off the bench. If not, that would greatly deplete Ball’s playing time, hindering him from furthering his growth.