The New York Knicks never-ending rebuild continues and trade rumors are always flying around. For the seventh straight season, the Knickerbockers were one of the NBA’s worst teams, finishing the year with the sixth-worst record of 21-45. New York will head to the 2020 draft with a potential top-five selection. Should the Knicks enter the top three, many pundits have the club selecting point guard LaMelo Ball.
However, recent reports and trade rumors suggest the Knickerbockers are interested in All-Star Chris Paul.
New York Knicks Trade Rumors: Chris Paul
Knicks fans have openly rejected the trade given New York is in the middle of a rebuild. Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and RJ Barrett figure to be the future of the franchise therefore logic suggests the Knickerbockers continue with its youth movement. However, speculation around who the next Knicks coach may indicate whether there is any weight to the rumors.
Former Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau is the leading candidate to take over New York. Thibodeau isn’t known for developing talent, preferring to coach teams ready to win now. If the Connecticut native is appointed coach, a Paul to New York trade certainly seems likely. Additionally, Leon Rose was Paul’s former manager and reports have indicated he is interested in bringing the future Hall of Famer to the Big Apple.
After being considered “washed” by fans and “old” by NBA pundits, Paul has bounced back in impressive fashion. He is having a resurgent season averaging 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.6 steals and earned his first All-Star selection since 2016.
Paul had a flashback game against the Brooklyn Nets. He finished the game with 28 points, six rebounds and three assists in the Thunder’s 111-103 win.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 8, 2020
He may not be able to bring this kind of intensity every night but he has been remarkably consistent this season at 36-years-old.
This will be a point of contention for many fans given Paul’s inability to win a championship throughout his illustrious career. However, there is very little doubt that he is a winning player.
Now in his 15th season, Paul will see the playoffs for the 12th time with his teams winning an average of 50 regular-season games. The floor general has been special this season, coming up big when the pressure is at its highest. Paul leads the NBA in the clutch scoring with 140 points on 53.5 percent shooting and 36 percent from three. Oklahoma City sits fifth in the Western Conference with a 40-24 record, four games behind second-place Los Angeles Clippers.
140 “Clutch Points” this season! pic.twitter.com/GhcybWUXhZ
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 8, 2020
Additionally, Paul has been huge defensively as well. In OKC’s game against Boston at The Garden, Paul defended Jayson Tatum on the final play of the game and did a great job forcing a tough fadeaway jumper.
Good defense by CP3 on Jayson Tatum on final play of Celtics-Thunder game pic.twitter.com/fGQ6yTK2LN
— Gifdsports (@gifdsports) March 9, 2020
It has been a long seven years in the Big Apple without any playoff basketball. Paul has shown this season that he can propel his teams to wins. This would be a nice change of pace for a club that’s struggled to win any games for the best part of a decade.
Without a doubt, the Knicks need a quality veteran that brings guidance to the franchise. Yes, Taj Gibson has been an excellent mentor for Robinson but aside from him, who else has assisted in player development?
Paul has been an excellent mentor for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder. Both are having career years and have bought into a team concept many believed wouldn’t work. Gilgeous-Alexander has become more poised in big moments and Schroder’s decision making has improved dramatically.
If the Knicks brought Paul to New York, Barrett and Ntilikina would be the biggest beneficiaries. Barrett looks to be the team’s franchise player and must learn to lead a squad while Ntilikina would be given the opportunity to pick Paul’s mind. Ntilkina’s development has stalled since his arrival and who better to get him over the hump that Paul?
Leadership doesn’t just have to be confined to basketball.
Paul also bought all Thunder players custom suits prior to their game against the Memphis Grizzlies. It was a wonderful gesture, and one the team openly enjoyed.
Suit up. It's game day. pic.twitter.com/WEJsHhDNXG
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) December 19, 2019
While these traits are difficult to quantify, team chemistry and belief is built upon the intangibles. Paul can bring these to New York and kick-start a move into the future.
Age and Injuries
The biggest knock against Paul is his ability to stay healthy. Over a 14 year career, Paul has played more than 70 games just seven times. Fans often ridicule him for getting hurt in Game Five of the 2018 Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, creating one of the biggest ‘what ifs’ in NBA history.
A devastating hamstring injury, two year ago today in the 2018 Western Conference Finals
On this play in Game 5, Chris Paul injured his hamstring. He was unable to play in Games 6 and 7 of the series. pic.twitter.com/sMePJIQVO3
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) May 24, 2020
Paul has been healthy this year, playing in all but one game. His lone absence was due to the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and has played in all back to backs this season. This could be an aberration but he has made some lifestyle changes that have given him spring to his step.
The future Hall of Famer will turn 36 during the 2020-21 season and fears of injury are legitimate. However, if what he has done this season is any indication, it may compel the Knicks to still take a chance.
Paul’s contract has been the focal point of discussion since he signed his four-year, 160-million-dollar max contract in 2018. After agreeing to opt-in to his contract to facilitate a trade in 2017, Paul rightfully got what was promised.
The breakdown of the $160M Chris Paul contract is: $35.6M, $38.5M, $41.4M and $44.2M. Paul is now the second highest paid point guard, only behind Steph Curry at $37.5M.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 1, 2018
Paul will be in year three. He will receive a shade over $41-million in 2020-21 and approximately $44-million in 2021-22. It is a large contract but if the Knicks are planning to develop talent, his contract doesn’t affect the growth process.
But the bottom line poses a few roadblocks when attempting to balance salaries in a trade.
As the expression goes “where there is smoke, there is fire”. New York GM Leon Rose was Paul’s former manager thus the rumors make some sense. Couple that with Tom Thibodeau being the front runner for Head Coach, early speculation appears to have some validity.
Knicks fans will undoubtedly object to the trade. Building toward the future is supposed to mean playing young guys and losing a bunch of games. However, there is definite value to a trade for Paul. The knowledge the future Hall of Famer will bring is invaluable to the New York Knicks young players.
He is arguably the most intelligent NBA player of this generation and can offer clear direction for franchise centerpiece RJ Barrett. The Knicks will have to swallow his contract over the next two seasons but that doesn’t seem to be a terrible proposition for an All-Star.
After all, they have done worse.
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