Everyone is focused on Chris Paul because of his connections to Leon Rose, but the Knicks could shock the world by boldly pursuing a different big-money player who has been eliminated from the playoffs, like Paul George, Al Horford or Eric Gordon.
We’ve already tackled whether the Knicks should inquire about the likes of CP3, Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo. Now, let’s investigate which of these four other men with massive contracts the Knicks should mull trading for.
Playoff P is owed almost $35.5 million next season and has a player option for 2021-22 worth nearly $38 million. If he stays with Los Angeles this year and next, he’ll enter unrestricted free agency at 32-years-old.
The Clippers were all set for a crosstown showdown in Orlando with LeBron James and the Lakers, only they forgot they needed to beat the Denver Nuggets first. This year’s second round flame out could foreshadow a much quicker end to the partnership between George and Kawhi Leonard than anyone expected, especially if someone makes an offer for PG that Steve Ballmer can’t refuse.
Do the Knicks have the assets to be that team? And should they try? Maybe. And maybe.
The Knicks have a boatload of draft picks that could be enticing to the Clippers, which gave up seven total first-round draft picks as part of the trade that brought in George. What if the Knicks offered up a few picks, plus Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett and Julius Randle for PG? Technically, that deal would work.
But would it be worth it to trade New York’s two most promising young assets to land a player who seems to be best served playing second fiddle instead of first violin?
Verdict: There’s probably not a realistic trade that would make the Knicks significantly better right now without mortgaging their future. New York should let others bid for PG and look elsewhere.
Horford is signed through 2022-23. He’s due up to $81 million over the next three years, including $26.5 million in the final year of his contract, when he’ll be 36.
The Philadelphia 76ers thought Horford was a missing piece. They were wrong. This one is simple; the Knicks have Mitchell Robinson, with Taj Gibson as a serviceable backup if they pick up his $8 million option for this season. Horford makes no sense on the Knicks, and we should quell these rumors before they begin.
Verdict: The only reason the Knicks should even consider a deal for Horford is if it includes a bushel of draft picks. And that’s probably not happening. Pass.
Gordon has four more years on his deal. He’s owed about $17 million, $18 million and $19.5 million over the next three years, and could be due almost $21 million in 2023-24 depending on certain milestones. He’ll be 35 when he enters unrestricted free agency.
The Rockets are in a strange place right now. Though they came close to dethroning the Golden State Warriors a few times, head coach Mike D’Antoni is gone, and the team is based around a James Harden-Russell Westbrook alliance that eats up much of Houston’s cap space.
Gordon is a solid player with career averages of almost 17 points per game on 43% shooting and 37% from three, plus 2.5 rebounds and 3 assists. He also had a down season this year that was hampered by knee, shin and ankle issues. Not to mention he plays the same position as Barrett.
Verdict: Even if the Rockets are desperate to shed his contract, Gordon wouldn’t really move the needle for the Knicks. He seems like a better fit for likely playoff teams in need of an additional scorer, like the 76ers, Boston Celtics or Golden State Warriors. New York should pass.
Adams has one more year on his contract, worth $27.5 million. The 27-year-old center from New Zealand will be 28 when he enters free agency after next season.
Adams, like Roy Hibbert before him, was a dominant force in the NBA until suddenly he wasn’t. That’s not to say Adams is bad, or that his exit from the league will come as swiftly as Hibbert’s. He’s still relatively young, and his size and strength is something that can’t be taught.
But he’s a little too slow to switch onto smaller players, and he doesn’t have a refined offensive game. He was a much more attractive piece when the Thunder still had Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
On its face, a trade for Adams makes absolutely no sense for the Knicks. But with Oklahoma City in rebuilding mode, perhaps they’d be interested in parting with Adams. Does some sort of deal for Adams that also features a sign-and-trade aspect with Danilo Gallnari and sees the Knicks shedding Julius Randle work?
If the Knicks are able to get creative and swing such a deal, they could simply let Adams’ contract expire after next year, opening up a large amount of cap space during an offseason that might include a ton of major free agents.
Verdict: This one doesn’t make much sense, but the creativity would be appreciated. The Knicks should probably pass, but it’s good to keep your options open.