In the past few seasons, the New York Knicks have been persistent in their effort to acquire a big-name player to join their roster. This offseason, that player could be Chris Paul. According to a report from Frank Isola back in March–and rumblings ever since–the Knicks have been gathering intel on the point guard and could try to make a trade for him this offseason. I asked Mike Vorkunov, who covers the Knicks for The Athletic, about a potential CP3 to NYC trade.
Q: From your perspective, why would the Knicks go after Chris Paul?
A: If they were interested in him I would think the reasons for it would just be that he’s still a really good player, they need to get better, they obviously need a point guard and although he’s 35, he’s still an All-NBA level point guard. That would be a shot in the arm and make them more competitive immediately in the 2020-2021 season.
Q: The Thunder have a good mix of young talent, veteran talent, and mid-career talent. CP3 is the glue that makes it mesh all together. Do you think a similar thing could happen if New York got him?
A: Oklahoma City has a lot more talent than the Knicks do at the moment with Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schröder. All those guys are probably better than who the Knicks have at the moment except maybe for Julius Randle or Mitchell Robinson. So it depends on what else they would do in the offseason. If CP3 were to come to New York, based on this current roster, it would be a much larger haul for him and he’d have to own a much larger part [of team responsibilities] than he does in OKC.
Q: What do you think this trade would look like in terms of haul coming back to OKC?
A: In the offseason, the Knicks (might be able) to absorb cap space a little bit, but they still have to trade some numbers back. They probably have to trade either Kevin Knox or Frank Ntilikina. I assume that OKC would want some kind of asset for (Paul) because he still is a really good player, despite the contract that he has. So it’d be one of those guys, with maybe picks in there.
Q: Do you think it would be at all worrisome for the Knicks to take on his big contract in the latter part of his career?
A: It depends on how quickly they want to contend and on how quickly they want to become players in the free agent market. (Paul) has two years left after this one so if they’re trying to be big players in the 2021 summer then yeah, it’s a problem. Then you’ve got $44 million on your books, and that probably stops you from doing a lot of things. But if they’re on a two- to three-year rebuild then he would be a key piece in getting them back in contention really quickly.
Q: What getting CP3 mean the Knicks were getting smarter with their rebuild by adding a quality veteran presence, or do you think this would be one of those typical “Knicks moves” that don’t go so well?
A: There’s potential for (the latter) because you’re adding someone who is that old at 35, and in the last years in his career. But I think Chris Paul is so good still that if you were to trade for him, it would really fast forward that rebuild (and) make sure that you almost become a playoff contender immediately because of how good he is. The worry there is that you’re adding a 35 year old who can make $40+ million in each of the last two seasons of his contract, so there’s a risk that things could go wrong if he gets hurt again or if his production drops. But that all depends on the timetable they have internally for what they want to do and how competitive they want to be at what schedule.
Q: How likely do you think this move is to happen?
A: Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve only seen rumors and maybe reports about it back in March, but honestly I don’t know. I think as the Knicks build out their front office and then they add a coach eventually, maybe then they’ll figure out what they’re doing in the offseason. But at this point we still have to see how the rest of the NBA season (plays out).