How exactly can the Knicks get Chris Paul? Trade scenarios for the future Hall of Fame guard
Chris Paul covered art in thunder uniform
The NBA draft is less than six weeks away. Traditionally, trade talks between teams are recorded in the league calendar at this point.
Hence, we are likely to hear a lot of Knicks trading rumors in the coming weeks. We've been talking about the Knicks and Chris Paul for the past few months.
There are people in the organization who continue to see Paul as someone who can help advance their efforts to build a successful culture. It can therefore be assumed that the Knicks have their options for a Paul trade and will continue to examine them.
One important factor here: where does Paul want to go? If recent history is any indication, Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti will, within reasonable limits, send a star player to a preferred destination. He has done this in the shops of Paul George (to the Los Angeles Clippers) and Russell Westbrook (to Houston).
So it's fair to assume that Paul can influence his goal when both he and OKC feel it's time to move on.
"If Chris Paul decides to go to Philly, they'll find out. Here's the league now and there are certain people who have this cache," said David Jacober, former NBA team strategy advisor and current player agent at Max Q Advisors "If he says I want to go to the Celtics, the Celtics and the Thunder will find out."
In addition to the Knicks, the Sixers and Bucks reportedly have an interest in acting for Paul.
With that in mind, we asked Jacober and the wage cap expert Albert Nahmad to help us sort out some potential trading packages the Knicks, Sixers, and Bucks might be doing for Paul.
KNICKS: There are scenarios where the Knicks can bring Paul's salary to Cap Space for 2020-21. There are also scenarios where New York still has plenty of headroom (more than $ 20 million) for free agents before closing a trade for Paul, who will make $ 41.4 million in 2020-21.
The Knicks and Thunder could basically agree to the deal ahead of the draft and execute it in the next NBA calendar year.
In this scenario, based on the cap of $ 109 million for the next season, Nahmad determines that the Knicks would have to spend at least $ 33 million in salary to withdraw Paul's $ 41.4 million contract ( if the cap for 2020-21 significantly lowers the Knicks may be less inclined to trade for Paul).
There are several ways for the Knicks to execute a Paul trade while maintaining a cap of at least $ 20 million.
Here's one: The Knicks deal with Bobby Portis, Elfrid Payton, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, and a future first-round pick for Paul.
Before the end of this calendar year **, the Knicks would officially exercise Portis' team option (which would make it officially tradable).
The Knicks would have Payton's salary of $ 8.0 million fully guaranteed. *
The Knicks would not allow Theo Pinson's $ 1.7 million team option to lapse.
In the new NBA calendar year, the Knicks would forego Moe Harkless '16, $ 5 million cap, forego Taj Gibson's $ 9.5 million salary, and extend his remaining $ 1 million warranty over three years **, waive Wayne Ellington’s $ 8 million salary and give him and uphold Waive Reggie Bullock’s $ 4.2 million salary and extend his remaining $ 1 million guarantee over three Years.
This scenario would give the Knicks $ 22 million of cap space before executing the trade. As soon as they used the cap room, the Knicks swapped Portis, Payton, Knox, Ntilikina and the future selection for the first round for Paul.
After the trade, the Knicks could also use the medium-sized exemptions minimum of $ 4.8 million to round out the list.
You could also cross the cap to re-sign Damyean Dotson, a restricted free agent.
This, of course, presupposes that the Knicks would be willing to give up both Knox and Ntilikina for Paul and that Presti would make the deal. The trade gives Presti two expiring contracts, two young players and a future choice.
If you want to take either Ntilikina or Knox off the market, you can bring in different groups of players for $ 33 million (including Julius Randle).
The Knicks could also include their 2020 lottery in a trading package with Portis, Payton and Knox for $ 33 million. In this scenario, they would have to wait up to 30 days after the rookie signed to complete the deal.
(** The Payton, Gibson, Ellington and Bullock warranty dates are October 17th, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks. The Portis team option date is also October 17. These dates are likely to be moved closer to the free agency, however. )
SIXERS: Philadelphia doesn't have the option to take on Paul's contract, so they would have to send $ 33 million to take Paul's salary back for 2020-21. Tobias Harris ($ 34 million) or Al Horford ($ 28 million) are possible options. But Harris is under contract until 2024 and Horford is under contract until 2023. Would Oklahoma City want to take long-term deals back or would they prefer to expire contracts?
We can assume that salary fillers, young players and / or drafts of thought are involved in a Paul-to-Philly deal.
But it seems like the Sixers will need to include at least one of their players on a long-term contract to close the deal.
"If it were me, I would look at people like Matisse Thybulle and Picks," says Jacober. "Maybe it's Josh Richardson and Thybulle, but they're going to a team in Oklahoma City where you'd have a lot of redundancy.
One more thing noteworthy: As ESPN reported, Paul and new Sixers coach Doc Rivers weren't doing very well at the end of Paul's tenure in Los Angeles. Rivers said at his introductory press conference that he and Paul are leaving some bad feelings behind.
While the Sixers aren't bringing in a third team, they can't send Oklahoma City big expiring deals.
"If you look at the potential market, New York has the expiring deals the Thunder wants," said an opposing manager.
MILWAUKEE: The bucks don't have the cap to take on Paul's contract either, so they'd have to send $ 33 million to take Paul's salary back for 2020-21.
Eric Bledsoe would probably be part of the deal. Most people speculate that George Hill would be too (although personally I think they want to stick with him). Other options to get the over $ 33 million he needs to send could include Ersan Illyosova (whose $ 7 million salary would need to be guaranteed), Robin Lopez (whose $ 5 million option would need to be exercised ) and DJ Wilson ($ 4.5 million), Donte DiVincenzo ($ 3 million), etc.
You have no leeway, so you would have to swap matches. They too would have to send out $ 33 million (or $ 30.7 million if officially executed this season) to get Paul's $ 41.4 million salary (or $ 38.5 million in this one Season).
The headliner there would probably be Harris or Horford, assuming it wasn't Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons. Some salary fillers, young players, and / or drafts of thought would also likely be involved to fill in the trade. Josh Richardson ($ 11 million) could potentially be included as well.
Bledsoe and Hill are both under contract in 2021-22, though Hill's deal is partially guaranteed ($ 1.2 million guaranteed).
The question for the Knicks, Sixers, Bucks and any other team interested in taking over Paul is: How long can he keep producing like last season? The 35-year-old averaged 17.6 points, 6.7 assists and 5 rebounds per game last year for an Oklahoma City team that exceeded expectations. Can he maintain this level of production over the next two seasons? History suggests that his numbers will go down.
Jacober's standard aging curve model finds that gamers ages 35 to 36 experience an average reduction in productivity of 59 percent.
The model is based on a small sample size as there aren't many players in the NBA that age, but Jacober says Paul, a future Hall of Famer, could be an outlier on that curve.
"Think of it a bit like Tom Brady - we're off the list here," he says.
For a team like the Knicks, taking over Paul would be more than just statistics. Paul is thought to be helping New York's young players develop winning habits. His presence would also help a franchise that too often got caught up in negative storylines outside of court.
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