For most of the months leading up to the 2019 NBA offseason, two players were widely linked to the New York Knicks as potential free agent acquisitions this summer — Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant and Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving. But with Durant expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season due to an Achilles tear and the Brooklyn Nets seemingly overtaking the Knicks as Irving’s most likely destination, New York might need to come up with a backup plan to improve its roster after winning just 15 games last season. According to New York Daily News, that backup plan should involve a trade for Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul.
In a report published on Tuesday afternoon, New York Daily News writer Bradford William Davis explained that it would be a good idea for the Knicks to make a deal for Paul, who reportedly wants to leave the Rockets due to his “unsalvageable” relationship with backcourt partner James Harden, among other factors. Not mentioned, however, was Paul’s recent denial of these rumors, as noted in a separate report from the New York Post.
While Davis clarified that the 34-year-old Paul has arguably lost a step and is no longer the same superstar he was in his younger days, he added that “CP3” is still a quality player who could lead the Knicks to a brighter future if they trade for him.
“Beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to recruiting NBA superstars,” Davis continued.
“Paul is one of the best options they have — real options, not a fever dream or an NBA 2K sim gone wild. He would further the goals worth shooting for at this point: improving their play in 2020 and developing young talent.”
James Harden and Chris Paul relationship is “unsalvageable”— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 18, 2019
CP3 demanded a trade and Harden told the front office to choose between them after losing to the Warriors, per @VinceGoodwill pic.twitter.com/CWzliJIYUe
Considering incoming third-year point guard Dennis Smith Jr.’s weaknesses as a playmaker and defender, the Daily News’ Davis added that those two facets of the game are still among Paul’s “greatest strengths” as a player. He opined that Smith could conversely make up for Paul’s declining physical attributes, with the Rockets star stepping in as someone who could “see the game like a great point guard” with his veteran savvy and crisp playmaking.
In addition, Davis pointed out that Smith and Paul are both North Carolina natives who already have a solid rapport with each other, with the former reportedly seeing the latter as a “good genuine dude” who has his back on and off the court.
Aside from Chris Paul’s potential to help Smith grow as a young and promising point guard, there’s also the prospect of the nine-time All-Star aiding the development of the other players that make up the Knicks’ young core — center Mitchell Robinson and forward Kevin Knox. According to Davis, Robinson and Knox are clearly talented players who could take their games to the next level while playing alongside Paul.
While Davis did not suggest any specific trade packages that the Knicks could offer to the Rockets, he stressed that New York is one of the few NBA teams that could “comfortably” absorb Paul’s contract, which, per Spotrac, will pay him about $38.5 million in the 2019-20 season. The New York Daily News writer also suggested that the Knicks could demand a few future draft picks if they trade for Paul, while also offering a few of their own to help Houston plan for Harden’s “inevitable decline” as a top-level shooting guard.
In conclusion, Davis predicted that the Knicks no longer have a chance of rising from league doormat to championship contender, given that Kevin Durant’s injury now makes him a much less plausible target in free agency. He added, however, that Chris Paul could — at the very least — guide the Knicks to what could be their second playoff series win in two decades.