NBA Rumors: OKC Thunder ‘Would Be Open’ To Trade Chris Paul To Knicks For Frank Ntilikina And Reggie Bullock
After an impressive performance in the 2019-20 NBA season, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul is expected to be one of the hottest commodities on the trade market this summer. The season is still far from over, but several NBA teams have already been linked to the veteran point guard, including the New York Knicks. In his recent article, Ian Begley of SportsNet New York suggested several trade scenarios that would enable the Knicks to land Paul this offseason.
Begley also asked the opinions of some people around the league regarding which trade package would give the Knicks a better chance of acquiring Paul. One league executive believed the Thunder “would be open” to trade Paul to the Knicks for a package that included Frank Ntilikina and Reggie Bullock. However, as Begley noted, the proposed deal won’t be simple, as New York would still need to make multiple roster moves in order to take on Paul’s massive contract.
“In this scenario, we’re assuming the cap is $115 million (that’s the current projection, but, as noted above, it’s subject to change). We’re also assuming the Knicks absorb Paul into cap space. To do that, they’d decline Bobby Portis’ team option ($15.8M) and renounce Moe Harkless’ Bird rights ($16.5M cap hold). They’d also waive Taj Gibson ($9.5M, with 1M guaranteed), Elfrid Payton ($8M, with $1M guaranteed) and Wayne Ellington ($8M, with $1M guaranteed). In this scenario, they’d also keep Reggie Bullock beyond June 28, the date by which his 2020-21 salary of $4.2 million becomes fully guaranteed.”
Trading Paul for Ntilikina and Bullock also makes sense for the Thunder. Aside from acquiring a young and promising talent in Ntilikina, the potential deal would also allow the Thunder to obtain salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2021, when multiple superstars are expected to hit the free agency market. The Thunder would likely demand the inclusion of a future first-round pick in the trade package. However, another league executive who spoke to Begley stated Oklahoma City would not be in a position to increase their asking price, since the trade market in the 2020 offseason is expected to be limited.
It is easy to understand why the Knicks are very interested in adding Paul to their roster. Though he clearly doesn’t fit the timeline of their young core, the Knicks reportedly believe that he would provide strong leadership for their young players and help jump-start a winning culture in New York. Establishing such an environment would be the first major step in making the team an attractive destination for superstars once again.