Could Kevin Knox be the final piece for the New York Knicks to acquire Chris Paul?
A potential trade between the New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder involving future Hall-of-Famer Chris Paul might hinge on the Knicks’ willingness to part with 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox.
At least that is the latest being reported by the New York Post, which indicates in the same report that the “belief” is New York would rather part with either Frank Ntilikina or Dennis Smith Jr. in a potential deal for Paul.
The Thunder are entering a rebuilding phase that has them seemingly motivated to shed salary – Chris Paul is owed more than $85 million over the next two seasons – making New York an attractive trade partner given their excess cap space, draft capital, and young players.
The fact that Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti might prefer Knox over either Ntilikina or Smith Jr. might speak more to finances than player evaluation. Knox has two years remaining on his rookie scale contract, whereas both Ntilikina and Smith Jr. are entering the final year of their deals before becoming eligible for restricted free agency.
Smith Jr. is coming off a dreadful 2019-20 campaign. It’s unlikely he would garner much interest on the trade market or find an offer to remain in New York long-term until he proves he can rebound on the court. However, Ntilikina could be in a position to sign an extension this offseason to stay with the Knicks as a defensive-minded guard under Tom Thibodeau.
While a potential trade for Paul has been heavily reported since his former agent Leon Rose became president of the Knicks, the New York Post reported earlier this week that putting together a package for Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo is a higher priority.
The hypothetical package offered by a source to Marc Berman would require the Knicks to send two first round picks owed from Dallas along with Julius Randle and either Ntilikina or Smith Jr. to Indiana for Oladipo.
Interestingly, neither of the speculated trade offers, involving Paul or Oladipo, have the Knicks pushing to trade Knox, whose college mentor, Kenny Payne, recently joined the coaching staff, at least in part to develop the former Kentucky star.
It is presumed by NBA onlookers that any trade for Paul would come at a discount due to his advanced age and sky-high salary. Beyond a young player, perhaps Rose could pull off a trade without adding much more sweeteners to the deal.
The market for Oladipo is less certain. The two-time All-Star is not far removed from a major injury that kept him out of the league for over a year. However, he is only 28-years-old, and assuming the Knicks would look to re-sign him (he is due to become a free agent in 2021) if they acquired him, his health will factor into the size of his contract.
Another day, another Chris Paul rumor related to the Knicks. And so the offseason continues.