The Knicks are reportedly considering a potential run at Chris Paul this summer, which would be an absurd move since the team is still in the beginning stages of its latest rebuild and should be focused on developing young players, acquiring assets and finding stability.
The first report about the Knicks being interested in Paul came from Frank Isola, a long time Knicks beat reporter for the New York Daily News who now works for SiriusXM.
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 & is proven leader. (He was also once represented by...Leon Rose.)— Frank Isola (@TheFrankIsola) March 5, 2020
Chris Paul’s age and contract are concerns. But look at what he’s done for Oklahoma City. He impacts winning on every team he plays for. The Knicks desperately need his leadership and toughness. (He also works the refs non-stop.)— Frank Isola (@TheFrankIsola) March 5, 2020
Shortly thereafter, Marc Berman of the New York Post reared his head to piggyback on Isola’s report, writing that CP3, who used to be represented by Leon Rose, “adores” the new Knicks president.
That’s it for now, but two reports is more than none. The case for getting Paul is obvious, but let’s lay it out in order to then dismantle it. CP3 is a future hall-of-famer who, at 34 years of age, is leading a scrappy Oklahoma City Thunder team to the playoffs in the Western Conference. His numbers in 2019-20 aren’t too much worse than his career averages — this year he’s posting 17.5 points on 49 percent from the field and 36 percent from three, 5 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game, while his career averages are 18.5 points on 47 percent from the field and 37 percent from deep, 4.5 rebounds and 9.5 assists. He’s a proven leader whose teams usually make the playoffs (he’s made the postseason 11 times in 15 years if you assume the Thunder are going to make it this season).
So why shouldn’t the Knicks trade for CP3?
The Knicks just hired a new team president, and his connections are constantly being hailed in reports about what he may try to do. If Paul were a free agent and was open to signing a deal that didn’t take up a massive chunk of the salary cap, it wouldn’t be crazy to consider adding him as a veteran presence to help boost the growth of youngsters like RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina.
However, Paul isn’t a free agent. He’s currently finishing up year two of a four-year deal that will pay him more than $41 million next season and about $44.2 million in 2021-22. Thus, if the Knicks were to land CP3, they’d have to do so via trade. The general manager of the Thunder, Sam Presti, isn’t going to give Paul to the Knicks for castoffs. It’s safe to assume that any CP3 deal would need to include either draft picks, one or more of the promising youngsters, or all of the above.
(While we’re here, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported in December that the Thunder’s owner would consider allowing Presti to leave OKC to be hired by the Knicks. Might Presti become the Knicks general manager and then trade for Paul twice in two years? This seems unlikely, but you never know.)
Back to the matter at hand: what’s the point of getting CP3 if it means giving up some of your future flexibility and the assets that you should supposedly be building around?
That’s why this is frightening
Back to Rose’s many connections for a minute. Remember how, before this season, it was very obvious that the Knicks were not going to contend for a playoff spot, but the front office thought the team they had put together was going to be competitive, only for it to blow up in their faces, which led to the firing of David Fizdale and reassignment of Steve Mills?
It’s starting to feel like the Knicks are once again going to try and pick up the pace of their turnaround when they should be accepting a few more years of playoff-less basketball while aiming for steady improvement.
On that point, rumor also has it that Rose’s Knicks could consider signing Carmelo Anthony next season. Maybe the Knicks can also call up Amar’e Stoudemire (who’s been playing in Israel) in order to finally form the super team we were promised when CP3 delivered that toast at Melo’s wedding back in 2010.
It’s the future, Knicks. Although it sounds nice because of their name recognition, now is not the time to build around Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.
Father time will come for us all — unless we can develop artificial intelligence and bionic bodies that render him powerless — and hanging your next two seasons on the shoulders of an aging All-Star point guard, no matter how great that point guard has been, is not the path towards sustainable success.
So, Mr. Rose, feel free to kick the tires on a trade for CP3. But please, for the love of god, don’t mortgage the future by trading for him. It’s certain to ensure your tenure as Knicks president will last just as long as your recent predecessors.