After striking out on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving during the 2019 free agency period, the Knicks are back to their annual star search. The next player on New York's list: Thunder guard Chris Paul.
The Knicks are "gathering intel" on Paul, according to The Athletic's Frank Isola, who points out new team president Leon Rose once represented Paul as an agent.
The Knicks, according to NBA sources, have been gathering intel on All Star Chris Paul and could make a run at him this summer. Paul, 34, carries a huge contract but he’s had a resurgent season in OKC & is proven leader. (He was also once represented by...Leon Rose.)
— Frank Isola (@TheFrankIsola) March 5, 2020
Paul has maintained a close relationship with Rose and reached out to him when he officially landed the Knicks job on Monday.
"I was excited. I was surprised like everybody else," Paul said. "[Rose] has been with me for a long time through a lot of different things, and I couldn't be happier for him and his family."
Chris Paul on his former agent Leon Rose being named Knicks president: “I couldn’t be happier for him and his family.” pic.twitter.com/GbPR5EEbbF
— Maddie Lee (@maddie_m_lee) March 2, 2020
At first glance, Paul doesn't seem to make sense on a rebuilding roster. The Knicks may believe Paul's presence will aid in the development of young prospects like RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson after seeing him thrive next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma City, but the Thunder are in playoff position because they also give minutes to solid veterans like Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder.
Basketball fit aside, the biggest hurdle in any potential Paul deal is his contract. The 10-time All-Star is set to earn $41.3 million in 2020-21 and $44.2 million in 2021-22 assuming he takes his player option. (In future news, Paul didn't turn down $44.2 million.)
That's an incredible financial commitment for a guy who is about to turn 35 years old in May. Overpaid doesn't mean bad, of course, as Paul is averaging 17.5 points, 6.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds with shooting splits of 48.8/35.9/89.5 (field goals/3-pointers/free throws) this season. Still, that must be part of New York's calculations. Paul himself isn't enough to suddenly push the Knicks out of the East basement, and his contract could easily become an albatross.
If nothing else, this leak at least temporarily shifts the conversation away from the Spike Lee vs. James Dolan drama. The Knicks win!