Prior to the season ending, the team that surprised everybody was the OKC Thunder. After trading away their two stars Paul George and Russell Westbrook, the NBA community assumed that this would be a rebuilding year for the team. However, under the leadership of both Billy Donovan and Chris Paul, the Thunder have proven themselves as a very competent team with an incredibly bright future.
They are currently ranked 5th in the Western Conference with a 40-24 record. Along with this, they have many amazing assets including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Steven Adams, and a multitude of future draft picks. General Manager Sam Presti has proven his ability to create a competitive team that has limitless potential for growth.
Yet, according to multiple sources, the New York Knicks seem to be interested in acquiring Chris Paul, and while many media personalities love the idea of OKC’s star player joining the New York Knicks, I’m here to explain why this is a bad idea for all parties involved and why this trade is very unlikely to happen. While nothing is ever impossible in the NBA, this trade will not benefit anybody.
Let’s start with the party that has the least impact on whether this deal goes through. Chris Paul is a great player and has garnered the respect from many within the organization. The problem is that he has a contract that allows him to get traded to any team that OKC wants.
Even in a hypothetical situation where the thunder were looking to trade Chris Paul, they have no obligation to consult him about the trade. Even if he were to be consulted about the option of being traded, I highly doubt that Chris Paul would want to play for the New York Knicks.
The first and most obvious reason is that Paul wants to continue to play relevant and competitive basketball. Even if the season were to resume, the Knicks are essentially out of the playoff hunt for this year, and even if they were to make significant improvements to the roster, CP3 would still be unable to move them ahead of the many upper echelon teams of the Eastern Conference.
Due to the fact that he is an older player, I doubt he wants to play on an incompetent team. The next major reason he would not want to go there is due to terrible management. As a player, one’s relationship with management is a great indicator of one’s overall happiness. Simply look at any major star that the Knicks have had in the past ten years. All of them left and nearly all have reflected badly on the handling of the team during their respective tenure.
There is a reason why KD and Kyrie both decided that they were not going to play for New York. The only real reason why he would want to join the Knicks is that it improves one’s personal brand by playing in New York. The issue is that Chris Paul has already made a significant name for himself outside of basketball.
He is already in multiple commercials as the main NBA spokesman for State Farm, and he is also the President of the player’s union. Going to New York would not make sense for a player that clearly only wants to remain on a competitive team for the rest of their career.
There is no doubt that the team is grateful for all the work that Chris Paul has done for the franchise. Unlike large market teams like New York, small market teams cannot afford to tank. In order to energize their fan-base, they need a team that is at least competitive. If not, then it is very unlikely that the team will be able to consistently fill the arena.
With that being said, there is no one in New York that is even remotely close to Chris Paul’s skills. The only form of compensation would be multiple first round picks, which is quite frankly not needed for the Thunder at this point. They have the youth, the future draft picks, and a competitive team, and with Chris Paul as the leader, he is providing priceless advice and wisdom to all of the younger players on the team.
In addition, due to contracts, the thunder would have to take a multitude of players that do not improve the team at all. Therefore, the only way I would see this trade happening is if there was a third party willing to give away certain assets to the Thunder. Yet, even in that situation, the trade realistically would not improve the Thunder in neither the short-term or long-term.
New York Knicks
Now the team that has no business looking for a trade is the team speculated in having interest in Chris Paul. Look, I understand why many NBA personalities want this trade to occur. Whenever the Knicks are decent, it drastically improves the revenue of the league as a whole. New York is easily one of the biggest markets and with Chris Paul leading the team, there is no doubt that the team would improve.
The problem is that the team would have to give away too many assets and would inevitably reach their ceiling within a year. The Knicks would at best be a 6th seed and would lead to an early exit in the playoffs, and due to the trade, New York would no longer be able to grow itself through the draft and would have to rely on signing free-agents.
New York should focus their sights instead on developing there current roster, which includes an improving RJ Barrett and a solid center in Mitchell Robinson. While it will not create as much excitement as a trade, this is the only option the team has if they want to be legitimate contenders.