clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Knicks are reportedly eying Chris Paul this summer. Does this rumor make sense?

Chris Paul has changed teams with losing cultures before. Could the Knicks be next?

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are considering trying to acquire Chris Paul during the NBA offseason, according to long-time Knicks reporter Frank Isola. The Knicks have reportedly been “gathering intel” on Paul, who is enjoying a tremendous season at age 34 for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Paul was named to the NBA All-Star Game for the 10th time in his career this season and the first time since 2016. He has powered the Thunder past any reasonable expectation coming into the year, putting the team in the middle of the Western Conference playoff picture and helping them overcome a slow start to emerge as one of the league’s winningest teams post-Thanksgiving.

Paul remains one of the league’s elite floor generals. He’s averaging 17.5 points, 6.7 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game on 48.8 percent shooting from the field this season. Paul has long been known as one of the smartest players in basketball, and he only seems to be getting savvier with age — just ask Carmelo Anthony and Jordan Bell. Read Mike Prada for more on the subtle tricks that define Paul’s genius.

Paul has two seasons and $85 million guaranteed on his contract once this season ends. He turns 35 years old this May. Would the Thunder rather keep him as part of a successful team or trade him for assets while they still can? Does Paul really fit the Knicks’ timeline?

Let’s break down this rumor from every side.

Why a Paul trade to the Knicks could work

The Knicks are, once again, one of the worst teams in the NBA. Adding Paul would likely change that immediately.

Paul has done wonders for a young Thunder team this season. The Knicks would be hoping for a similar impact if they were to acquire him. In New York, Paul’s situation would mirror the one he’s currently in with the Thunder, where he’s surrounded by young teammates and is tasked with teaching them how to win. This plan has been a massive success for Oklahoma City this season.

The Thunder aren’t just going to give Paul away for free despite his hefty salary. The Knicks have a few intriguing young pieces on the roster. The player Oklahoma City would likely want is Mitchell Robinson, a hyper-athletic 21-year-old center who has loads of potential as a rim protector on defense and lob finisher on offense. If Robinson is off the table, the Knicks can see if Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith, Jr., or Frank Ntilikina would interest the Thunder. Julius Randle and Bobby Portis are other options.

The Thunder may want to trade Paul while they can still extract value for him. The Knicks have watched how Paul’s presence has helped Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the rest of Oklahoma City’s young core and would be hoping for a similar impact. CP3 has changed the culture of losing teams many times in his career before. Why not the Knicks?

Depending on what the Thunder are looking for in return for Paul, the Knicks could be a match.

Why a Paul trade to the Knicks might not work

The Knicks and Paul are simply on different timelines. New York’s future lies with 19-year-old R.J. Barrett, along with Robinson and Knox. There’s a case to be made that the Knicks should be growing their young core rather than selling off parts of it to acquire a 35-year-old point guard. If the Thunder want a draft pick, it doesn’t seem like it would be a good idea for the Knicks to give up a first rounder for Paul at such an advanced age.

Completing a trade for Paul also won’t be easy because of his massive salary. Randle ($18 million guaranteed next season) and Portis ($15.75 million team option) would almost definitely have to be included to make the money work. Would Oklahoma City want to take them back?

This could come down to if the Knicks will include Robinson in the deal. Robinson has sky-high potential and projects as a starting center for the next decade. Does New York really want to give him up for Paul? If not, are any of the Knicks’ other prospects good enough to make Oklahoma City bite on a trade?

Any trade involving Paul is going to be complicated and might need to include a third team to get the money right. The Knicks have to weigh if it’s worth selling off a big part of their future to get Paul’s help in the present. The Thunder have to weigh if they are willing to take a big step back next season by dealing by trading the man who has been their best player all year.

Could this trade actually happen?

Leon Rose, the Knicks’ new president, will likely want to make a splash in the offseason. While Paul is old for an NBA player, he could instantly revitalize the Knicks the way he’s done with the Thunder, Clippers, and Hornets. That makes him a tempting trade candidate.

While a Paul trade won’t be easy to complete, this rumor does pass the sniff test for now. Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti has done well to acquire assets for his best trade chips and now has a war chest full of draft picks. A young player like Robinson (or maybe Knox?) could be enough to get him to pull the trigger on a Paul deal.

We’ll believe Paul is going to New York when it happens, but for now, this rumor doesn’t sound totally farfetched.