The Knicks have long been known to go after big-name stars. They usually either fail to attract them (Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving last summer, LeBron James in 2010), or they get them too late in their careers (Steve Francis, Antonio McDyess, and Tracy McGrady).
Because of their history, there is a consensus among analysts telling the Knicks to stop trying so hard to go for the shortcut and build slowly and “trust the process”. Regardless, Knicks fans being Knicks fans, many of them still want to see the famous Madison Square Garden hosting a Knicks team led by the biggest names in sports. This fine line leads to what seems like an annual tradition. People link the Knicks to the biggest available stars, and people debate on the likelihood, and the pros and cons. So here we are. Recently, the Knicks hired Leon Rose as their president in an effort to get them back on track. Not long after, Chris Paul, his former client, was linked to him and the team. So what should the Knicks do?
Many will point to Paul’s contract, $41 million a year for the next 2 years, as a reason the Knicks should not go after him. Others will point to the fact that the Knicks are not in a position to win right now so why spend and give up pieces to get an aging star instead of letting the younger plays. In both scenarios, the 2 year period ends up being the key term. With Paul under contract for only 2 years, that is precisely why the contract issue should not matter too much. The free-agent class this summer is not great, and those at the ones worth going after are either restricted or have players’ options. Next year’s free-agency pool is better, but again, many of the top players available are most likely going to opt-in to stay with their current teams.
And as far as giving up pieces is concerned, while Chris Paul is having a resurgent year and is still a marquee name in the league, but Oklahoma City has proven that they are prioritizing getting draft picks and retaining youth. Many of the other teams and contenders who would like to have Paul on their team either have no cap space or do not want to commit to Paul and said contract for 2 years. If that is the case, then the Thunder may be looking at a salary dump type of situation and the Knicks may only have a few teams to compete against lowering the price and pieces needed in a potential trade.
If the Knicks are serious about this, then the Knicks would most likely need to give up young pieces like Frank Ntilikina or Dennis Smith Jr. and maybe a player like Reggie Bullock and possibly a pick. With the Thunder already having a solid young backcourt, they may try to pry away Kevin Knox, someone the Knicks are still trying to figure out themselves. I think if it is one of the young point guards, Bullock and a second-rounder it is worth it, but anything more and it gets dicey.
Again, this is all assuming that the Thunder are going to look at this as more of a salary dump because they will find a hard time getting back equal value, and also assuming that there will be little competition in the form of suitors. Obviously, if you are the Thunder, you want as much possible and there may be a teams out there like the Heat and Bucks that could make some noise. But with reports saying that the Thunder would be open to trading him to the Knicks, this may be one of the few times where getting a star works and makes the front-office look like they know what they are doing.