Do The Knicks Realistically Have A Shot At Chris Paul?


February 24, 2010 Milwaukee, WI. Bradley Center..New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul shoot around before the start of the game, Paul has been out for several games now from left knee injury..Milwaukee Buck won over the New Orleans Hornets 115-95. Mike McGinnis/CSM.

How likely is it that Chris Paul could be traded to the Knicks? (Source: Yardbarker.com)

The last 24 hours have been swamped with intrigue over the news Chris Paul supposedly asked his team the New Orleans’ Hornets to trade him. Much like with Chris Bosh rumors earlier this summer, there apparently is even a list of potential places. New York is reputed to be on the list as well as the Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic and Portland Trailblazers. There are differing reports as to whether or not the Lakers are also on the list. So let’s look at this in two parts. First, how do the Knicks chances stack up compared to the other teams on the list? Second, with the Hornets set to meet with Paul on Monday, what’re the chances he even gets traded shortly. Note that the emphasis is on shortly because the rumor is he wants to be traded before the season begins. Down the road there are too many variables (new ownership, how the team does, future possible trades, Paul’s chemistry with the new coach and GM, etc.) to know how long things could last if New Orleans convinces CP3 to give ‘em one last chance.

Also, before we get into it, let’s set some things straight. Some fans and pundits have ripped Donnie Walsh for striking out with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade and “only” getting Amar’e Stoudemire. Let’s be honest: if Amar’e wasn’t on the team, no way Paul even lists the Knicks. I’ve heard others argue we should’ve kept Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford & David Lee, and while that might’ve kept us as a 6-8 seed in the East these last few years, that ain’t a team that’s gonna excite a Chris Paul either. So let’s give some due first to Walsh for creating an excitement about the team that hasn’t been here since the days of Van Gundy.

Knicks, Mavs, Magic, Trailblazers or Lakers?

If the Hornets are gonna trade Chris Paul, they’re gonna be looking for two things in return: young talent and salary relief. The Knicks have both with Anthony Randolph, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari filling the “young talent” slot, and Eddy Curry’s large expiring body, I mean, contract, serving the other need. In order to get this salary relief, the Hornets will be hoping to package Paul with Emeka Okafor’s remaining 4 years at over $50 million. Which means, for those dreaming of a run at Carmelo Anthony to get our own dream threesome, we would not have the salary cap space available. And the Nuggets would have no desire to trade him for Okafor.

First off, you can cross the Mavs off the list. While they can offer two expiring contracts in Caron Butler and former Hornet Tyson Chandler, they’re not great in the young stud department. Roddy Beaubois has shown some potential, but after a no-show at Summer League where he was outplayed by the undrafted Jeremy Lin, his star ain’t shining too bright. Plus they’re a division rival, and teams are often hesitant to trade a top player to a division rival ‘cuz they don’t want their former guy inflicting regular torture on them. In fact, that also hurts all the West Coast teams in general as they’d have to play against Paul 3-4 times a year, versus only twice if he went East. So that gives the two east coast teams of the Knicks and Magic an edge there.

Speaking of the Magic, although they reportedly pushed hard for a Chris Paul trade earlier this summer, they don’t really have a great package to offer. They have no expiring contracts (UPDATE: my bad, I didn’t notice Vince Carter’s contract has a team option, so he’s basically an $18 million expiring contract), nor any young blood. Their reported trade centered around their point guard, Jameer Nelson, but that’s a tough sell to the fans: we traded our star for someone who plays the exact same position but who is worse and isn’t any younger.

The Trailblazers also supposedly nearly had a deal done for CP3 that involved Portland offering up Andre Miller and Jerryd Bayless, which makes as little sense for New Orleans as the potential Orlando deal above. The Blazers do have the expiring contract of Joel Pryzbilla (although it’s only a $7+ million contract, so they wouldn’t get as much relief as with a Curry trade.  UPDATE #2: again, my bad, same thing.  Andre Miller has a team option for his last year so he’s basically nearly an $8 million expiring contract). Some might consider Bayless to be young intriguing talent, but after two years of him only being able to break into the rotation when others get injured, he no longer seems to have the potential he once did. Likewise with all these point guard trades, the Hornets already have a young promising one in Darren Collison, so they’re unlikely to look to receive one in a trade. The Blazers true intriguing young gun would of course be Greg Oden, but with his already exhaustive injury history, that’s a big risk to swallow.

Lastly, the Lakers, if they are indeed on the list, have the small expiring contract of Sasha Vujacic ($5+ million) and an intriguing young in Andrew Bynum. Of course like with Oden, Andrew’s injury history is a major concern. Plus, coming at it from the Lakers’ point-of-view, I’m not sure that owner Jerry Buss would want to make the deal. He’s shown a hesitancy to increase payroll (as viewed by tough contract renegotiations for less money for both Derek Fisher and coach Phil Jackson). And since they just won it all, I’m not sure there’s much incentive for him to try to make a major change. One could also argue that one of the Lakers’ biggest advantages is well, their bigs. The trio of Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom is what has caused issues for the Celtics and Magic in the last two finals, and it would be the one area that they’d far outclass the new Miami powerhouse. Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem might be able to deal with a Gasol and Odom combo.

To sum up, if indeed the Hornets decide to trade Paul to one of the teams on his list, the Knicks likely have the most intriguing package. That’s something you haven’t been able to say in a while.

Will The Hornets Even Do A Trade?

This is the far tougher question to answer. In their meeting with Paul on Monday, not only will they hope to sell him on their new coach and new GM, but also that things will be better in the future. After they’ve spent the last two seasons giving away pieces like Rasual Butler for nothing solely to get under the luxury tax, Paul is justifiably upset that the team hasn’t been trying to build a winner around him.

The team will try to counter with the facts that next summer the awful contracts of Peja Stojakovic and Darius Songalia will come off the books, giving them an extra $20 million in salary space. If Chris Paul is smart, he’ll also notice that David West has a player option which he’s unlikely to go for since it’d only pay him about $7.5 million for the 2011-2012 season. With teams like the Knicks and Nets having cap space available next summer, West is sure to get higher offers if he tests out free agency. So for New Orleans to retain his services, they can expect to have to offer a starting salary of at least say $11 million. Likewise, Marcus Thornton, a second-round rookie sensation this past season, will also be up for a new contract. Even if he doesn’t make a huge leap in improvement this year, expect his sub-million salary to go up to at least $3 million a year if not significantly more. That means the team’s salary will be around $51 million at least, so even if the cap ends up at $58 million, it only leaves the Hornets with $7 million to sign a free-agent. Which isn’t much more than the salary cap exception they have this year. So their best shot at improving would be to use Peja’s expiring contract in a trade during this season. That, and a possible new owner, are really the only things they have to sell Paul that things will get better.

However, since he is under contract for two more years, the Hornets don’t necessarily even need to sell him anything. They can just not trade him and hope he changes his tune. Which is the way to go, if they’re smart. Paul seems like a good guy and not the type who’ll mope or sabotage the team if he’s not traded. He’ll play hard no matter what. And maybe in the meantime the team can pull a Pau-Gasol-type trade that’ll convince him to stay (much like how that trade convinced Kobe to not only rescind his trade demand but to thank the Gods above).

Also, now that news of this possible trade demand is out, the Hornets would be trading from a point of weakness. Bad enough that whenever you give away a superstar you’re likely to at best get 90 cents back on the dollar. Now, knowing the Hornets are in a bit of a bind, a team like the Knicks, rather than us throw in all our chits (Gallo, Anthony Randolph and Curry), we’re more likely to first see if we can get away with just a straight-up Curry-for-Paul trade. Or just Randolph for Paul. But unless we’re convinced that the Hornets have a better offer on the table (and none of the above were better), we’re not gonna go all in.

In the end, I expect New Orleans to smooth things over with Paul and that if he gets traded, it won’t be until some point during the season at the earliest. The good thing though is that if he does get traded before then, we seem to be in the best position to snag him.

Tags: Amare Stoudemire Anthony Randolph Chris Paul Dallas Mavericks Danilo Gallinari Eddy Curry Emeka Okafor Los Angeles Lakers New Orleans Hornets New York Knicks Orlando Magic Peja Stojakovic Portland Trail Blazers

  • http://knickstweets.net KnicksTweets

    Magic have an option on Vince Carter’s 2011/12 contract, therefore his $17.3 million deal is essentially an expiring contract.

    • Matt

      exactly, this dude dont know what he’s talkin about..The Magic have better trade options than the Knicks lol, how about Vince (Salary Cap Relief in 2011, and a useful player, unlike Curry), and Jameer Nelson (who would start over Darren Collison). When Collison is ready they can trade him or Jameer…or what about Vince and Gorat, who the Magic are looking to get rid of because his limited role, he would start at center and avg a double-double…the Magic also have Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson as bargaining chips..the Magic would be willing to give up one of those guys who could play a major role on the Hornets…dont give me that s**t that the magic dont have any bargaining chips, after all they are one of the deepest teams in the league…

    • http://bucketsoverbroadway.com Alex David, aka Short White Boy

      Thanks for the heads up on Vince’s contract KnicksTweets (& others). Dunno how I missed it when I was looking at team’s salaries.

      Matt & Magic 101,
      Orlando is one of the deepest teams in the league and they have plenty of bargaining chips for almost any situation… unless you’re looking for young talent. If the Hornets GM is smart (and that’s a big IF in this league) and feels forced to trade Paul, he’s gonna look to blow up the team and start over with youth, a la Oklahoma, Portland & Memphis. Trading for Jameer, Vince, Gortat & Bass would help the Hornets stay in the playoff race, but it doesn’t provide much for the future (particularly if they don’t pick up the option on Vince & let him walk).

  • Magic101

    Wow…this is very uninformed. Vince Carter’s contract is a team option in the last year; therefore, it is essentially an expiring contract (all the Hornets have to do is simply not pick it up). Also, they can package Jameer and Marcin Gortat. New Orleans would end up with three starters and 17 million in cap space. I’d say that is a hell of an offer.

    Orlando is definitely in the cat birds seat for this deal and everyone in the NBA knows it…the only question is can Otis Smith get out his own way and not trip on his d**k to get this done.

  • linda creesy

    don’t rule orland out of this discussion because they have a better shot at getting paul than the knicks.

    first, they have played in the nba and eastern conference finals more recently than ny. two, they have dwight howard who is a superior player to stoudemire.

    and carter’s contract comes off the books in 1 year. i think an offer of nelso, carter, gortat and ryan anderson is better than anything ny can offer.

    • http://bucketsoverbroadway.com Alex David, aka Short White Boy

      Linda,

      Reports have recently come out that Orlando is Paul’s top choice due to the exact reason you mention (a far superior team). However, he doesn’t get to choose. In fact, while many people here have disagreed with my take, my one true miscalculation wasn’t mentioned: the Hornets have no reason to only stick to the teams on Paul’s list. If they decide they’ve got no recourse but to trade him, they’ll go for the best deal they can find. Sure, if they find two similar deals and one is with a team on Paul’s list then they’ll do that, but otherwise they’ve gotta do what’s best for the franchise, not try to ensure that their departing player will have a happy future after he’s gone.

  • Thomas Stewart

    The only thing holding up the Deal with orlando in late June was Okafor’s contract. If Smith could have found a way for the Hornets to dump his salary on someone else this deal would have gotten done. Enter Philadelphia and their need for a point guard. They could end up with Jameer and Okafor. Orlando ends up with Paul, while Charlotte ends up with Gortat, Vince, Igadoala and some draft picks.

  • Chase Thomas

    Bill Simmons came up with something interesting and that is the C’s would actually bring the most to the table to the Hornets.

    I believe he said something alone the lines of Rondo, Perkins, and two future 1st rounders.

    I’m just not sure we have enough to send to NO. Maybe package everyone we just traded for? Eh, we’ll see.

    • http://bucketsoverbroadway.com Alex David, aka Short White Boy

      Chase, I’m with you that the deal is good for New Orleans, but I’m not sure if I’m the Celts that I do the deal. Paul is better than Rondo, but losing Perkins would seriously hurt the team. He can guard Dwight, Bynum & Pau one-on-one without help which is huge since Orlando and the Lakers are two of the main teams in the way. I honestly think Perkins might be a bigger key to that team’s playoff success right now than Ray Allen and possibly even this year’s creaky version of KG (although Doc Rivers thinks KG will be stronger next year after having had more time to recuperate from his knee issues).

  • Brian

    Sorry guys, gotta push for portland here :) (see, I can still dream Alex). Andre Miller also has a team option, which is why we almost had cp3 last month before their old GM backed out. Andre and Priz combine for 14.6 mil next season, and they are both useful (unlike Curry). The other thing we have going is the fact that Monty Williams (our old assistant coach) loves a few of the young guys we have… in fact, he was given a lot of credit for polishing up their game. Nicolas Batum is one guy I know he would LOVE to have. We also have a logjam at shooting guard and have Rudy Furnadez & Elliot Williams we could include in a trade now that we just signed Wesley Matthews- besides the guys already mentioned (Bayless & Oden). On top of this, we have the lure of the richest owner in the league… one of the very few left willing to spend money.
    Camby has also been mentioned as an option, but I don’t see that happening. I would cry tears of joy if our starting line-up had Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Lamarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden/Camby and Wesley Matthews or any other guy off the street.
    Ok, I’ll try to remember this is a Knicks blog now… but hey, all these other comments are about the magic so… ya

  • Chris M

    Otis said that he would not trade Carter unless the deal “knocked his socks off”. Well Otis is Chris Paul wanting to come to the Magic enough to “knock your socks off”?

  • Chase Thomas

    Brian, you’re forgetting that NO most likely won’t move Paul unless the team takes Okafor’s contract on as well and I don’t see Portland taking on Okafor with Camby/Oden already in place.

    I think it’s down to NY or Orlando.

  • Don

    Chase, I don’t think Brian was forgetting that at all. Most of the national writers give Portland and Orlando the inside track on Paul. They have expiring contracts and enough young talent to entice NO.

    There are a number of scenarios that would work for Portland/NO. Here’s one.

    Canby/Miller/Przybilla/Fernandez to NO
    Okafur/Paul to Portland

    That said, I still think it’s over 50-50 that Paul stays in NO.

  • Brian

    Ya, Don is right… the old deal was Andre Miller, Joel Przybilla, Nicolas Batum, Jerryd Bayless and the 22nd pick for Paul and Okafur. It was all set to go til Jeff Bower backed out for unknown reasons… and now he has been “let go” along with our own GM Kevin Pritchard, so I’m praying the two new GM’s can make a new deal… I just hope the new deal doesn’t have Batum in it, cause I think he is going to be huge.

    • http://bucketsoverbroadway.com Alex David, aka Short White Boy

      Brian,

      I just don’t get why New Orleans would do that deal. Then again, I probably only saw a handful of Portland games this past year, so maybe your B&B (Bayless and Batum) is better than I think. To me Batum seems like a more athletic Raja Bell type (although he’ll also drive off the swing rather than just shoot threes). Like to me it seems a team should be able to get them for just like a Jamal Crawford-level player rather than CP3 who when healthy is possibly a top 5 player.

      And having Miller and Pryzbilla for a year would be just enough to ensure that New Orleans wouldn’t get a great draft pick. Wouldn’t it be better to instead have Curry’s big ol’ butt sit on the bench, allowing youngsters like Collison to keep growing while helping the team improve it’s lottery odds?

      Maybe it’s just ‘cuz I’m a NY homer, but I feel like Gallo and Anthony Randolph have potential to be All-Stars, while I don’t see that in the Bs. And if the Hornets do wisely consider other teams that aren’t on Paul’s list, don’t you think they could get say an OJ Mayo for Paul? Or Brandon Jennings? How do you trade a top 5 guy for two young guys who wouldn’t necessarily even start on most other teams?

      • Brian

        Maybe that’s why they backed out *shrugs* – I am not too huge on bayless myself… and I don’t know why they keep trying to make him point guard. He is a mini Brandon Roy; he can pass ok, but he is not ever going to be a great point guard. He can be a good 2 guard that is undersized… he is a scorer, not a passer. He is a pretty good defender as well, but ya, not a proven gem.
        Batum on the other hand will be truly great in my opinion… I think he would have shown a lot more of it this year if he wasn’t out with the shoulder injury. He is a morph of Scottie Pippen and T. Prince on steroids. I know many will laugh at that statement looking at his stats, but wait and see… he came to us at 19yrs old. I think if we just toss him in a trade it will haunt us like the Jermaine O’neal trade back in the day– which I was IRATE over.
        Anyway… enjoy:

        • Brian

          Had to add more :)
          I hope you have the patience to watch all that… its a pretty nice highlight reel considering most of those are from his rookie season since he was out half this year with the shoulder- and then had to limit himself for a while when he came back.
          Also, I think he might be considered “starting” quality on most teams. Even with our being #2 in the league with missed games due to injuries, the Blazers have had over 50 wins the last 2 seasons with Batum as a starter (when healthy). Just sayin’

    • http://bucketsoverbroadway.com Alex David, aka Short White Boy

      Wow Brian,

      I had no idea Batum was such a great shot-blocker. He’s definitely a player. But you mention Pippen and Prince, and there’s a big ol’ world of difference between ‘em. Pippen’s Top 50 All-Time, while Prince has never even made an All-Star game. Prince is a great lock-down defender and pretty solid on offense too actually, but I wouldn’t trade CP3 for a young version of him. You’ve convinced me that Batum’s impressive, but I’m still not sold that he’s good enough to be better than a Jamal Crawford-level player (yeah I know their games are TOTALLY different but I just mean his level in that of someone who’s almost an All-Star type).

      • Brian

        Ya, I completely agree with you… I’m just saying that for me, as a fan, I would rather we throw in a Rudy Fernandez & Bayless etc. instead of Batum if we were able to make a deal because I personally think he has a lot more potential. But ya, he is not on that level yet, and who am I to be picky in a trade for Chris Paul… I should be more worried about proven guys like B Roy and Lamarcus getting traded.
        On the Pippen-Prince; I know they are different, I just see him as having a “morph” of their skills… like if they- oh gross, nevermind.
        He’s really a lot more like Prince though. I think his defensive game is where it needs to be, and I would like to see him become more of a focal point on offense… I mean, how many second-year players shoot 52% from the field and 41% from 3 (after coming back from a serious shoulder injury)?

  • Jack

    How is Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson and Marcin Gortat a good package of players? All players with sizable contracts and mediocre talent. If you’re talking about Vince Carter a few years back that’s a different story, but NO isn’t going to trade its franchise player on a package of players like that. NO is going to want young players with potential in addition to the ability to move Okafur. Orlando quite simply doesn’t fit the bill.