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 in the 2020 NBA 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 believes that the Thunder “would be open” to trade Paul to the Knicks for a trade package that includes Frank Ntilikina and Reggie Bullock. However, as Begley noted, the proposed trade deal won’t be simple as the Knicks would still be needing to make multiple roster moves to make room for 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 where multiple NBA 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 but another league executive who spoke to Begley thinks that Oklahoma City would not be in a position to increase their asking price since the trade market for Paul in the 2020 NBA offseason is expected to be limited.
Meanwhile, 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 Paul would provide strong leadership for their young players and help jump-start a winning culture in New York. Establishing a winning environment in New York would be a first major step for the Knicks to make them an attractive destination for superstars once again.