NY Knicks: Projecting the roster with Chris Paul and Fred VanVleet

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LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 05: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers is guarded by Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors during a preseason game at Staples Center on October 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

If we believe the rumors, what would a Knicks lineup look like with Chris Paul and Fred VanVleet?

While the New York Knicks haven’t played since mid-March, they still appear regularly in the NBA rumor mill. The latest has the team working on an offer to acquire future Hall-of-Famer Chris Paul, while also creating enough cap space to sign Toronto Raptors free agent Fred VanVleet.

Are these rumors conflicting? Is it even possible for the Knicks to absorb Paul’s massive salary and still have enough money left over to make a competitive over for VanVleet?

Well, anything’s possible. But let’s discuss the cap mechanics to decide whether these rumors could make some sense in how team president Leon Rose decides to revamp New York’s roster.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between the Knicks making a trade before the new league year versus after the league year resets. Right now, New York is over the cap. That means any trade involving Chris Paul would require them to send matching salary back to Oklahoma City.

The problem is the Thunder already have a full roster (15 players), so they couldn’t take back multiple contracts in exchange for just Paul to make a deal work. The long and short of it: while a deal could be agreed to in principle before the new league year – which is expected to begin a few days after the draft that is currently scheduled for November 18 – an actual trade between the two teams probably wouldn’t occur until the league year resets, if a deal happens at all.

Once the Knicks enter the 2020-21 offseason, they have the ability to create close to $45 million in cap space. That means they could absorb Chris Paul’s massive $41 million salary without needing to send much back to Oklahoma City.

However, if New York wants to create enough cap space to sign free agents in addition to acquiring Paul, they would need to find a way to move Julius Randle’s $18.9 million contract off the books.

As I outlined on Twitter yesterday, the Knicks could make a series of moves that nets them Chris Paul and $28 million of cap space by moving Randle, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and draft picks, while letting Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Elfrid Payton, and Theo Pinson walk (or find new homes via trade).

What would the Knicks roster look like by making such moves? Let’s take a look.

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