Chris Paul trade rumors: Knicks considering move to acquire veteran All-Star guard this summer, per report

When Chris Paul was traded from the Rockets to the Thunder last summer, everyone went through a few stages of evaluation. First we all figured that the Thunder, right in the middle of a youth movement with no immediate plans to contend, surely didn’t want him long term, but who would trade for him? Paul’s contract was seen as an increasingly diminishing asset, if not already a negative one outright. 

Then the season started, and Paul looked great, as did the Thunder. He made the All-Star team and could be in line for an All-NBA nod. OKC held onto its core guys at the trade deadline and is currently No. 6 in the West, just three games back of a top-four playoff seed. Combine Paul’s production with the fact that there will only be two years left on his deal this summer — $85.5 million with the final year, 2020-21, being a player option — and suddenly he looks like a pretty tradable asset again. 

Which brings us to the report on Thursday that the New York Knicks are “gathering intel” on Paul and could look to trade for him this summer, per Frank Isola. The Knicks can create over $30 million in cap space this summer, and they deliberately stayed away from long-term deals last summer in hopes of making a free-agent splash in 2021 when Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and a host of other star players could become available. 

Paul’s money, should he exercise his player option, would potentially get in the way of other significant 2021 pursuits. Aside from that, you can partially understand the logic of the Knicks having interest in Paul. For starters, how likely is it that they are going to lure someone like Giannis or LeBron? Paul is probably the best player they can realistically get their hands on. 

Second, the Knicks have a few young, worthwhile players they want to groom who could learn under a guy like Paul, who is one of the smartest players in the league. Problem is, he’s also one of the toughest to play with and a fierce competitor who wants to win. And let’s not forget new Knicks president Leon Rose also happens to be Paul’s agent.

The Knicks likely believe they actually can win, and with Paul on board, you could at least make a case they could compete for a bottom playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. But is that worth giving up young assets, draft picks or otherwise, for a 34-year-old making $85.5 million over the next two years that doesn’t fit your realistic contention timeline in any way? It wouldn’t seem so. But this is the Knicks we’re talking about. Whatever smart people think they should do, there’s a good chance they’ll find a way to do the opposite. 

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