The merits of a rebuilding team like the ‘Bockers making aggressive play for 35-year-old Paul are up for debate. Here’s what it’s not: New York’s clearest path to a franchise face leads directly to the decorated floor in general.
He’s also on the radar, which shouldn’t surprise anyone given that his former agent, Leon Rose, is now the president of the Knicks. Rose wasn’t even at work for a full week when Sirius XM NBA’s Frank Island reported that the Knicks were “gathering information” about Paul and “could have challenged him this summer.” SNY’s Ian Begley said some team members felt Paul could “jumpstart the franchise’s effort to build a winning culture.”
There is value in a cultural shift, especially for clubs with – as we should say – a reputation that is anything but exceptional. As Kevin Durant said in an October interview on HOT 97 (h / t Chris Bumbaca of USA Today), “The cool thing right now isn’t the Knicks.”
New York needs this to change before the next group of mega-stars reaches free agency. Adding Paul could be a big step in the right direction. And within the lines, he was able to work on aerial magic with Mitchell Robinson and show RJ Barrett the finer points of creating the shoot.
The structure of this exchange is highly flexible, since New York could give up the rights to several players to effectively absorb Paul into the cap space. It all depends on what Oklahoma City wants, which presumably starts with not owing Paul $ 41.4 million next season or his $ 44.2 million player option for 2021-22.
That said, the veteran ranks sixth overall in ESPN’s true plus-minus, so the Thunder probably don’t want to part with him for nothing.
Here, the Thunder pick up Frank Ntilikina (who could be mistaken for Kevin Knox or Dennis Smith Jr.) and a first-round pick. It’s not a king’s ransom at all, but it’s nothing. Ntilikina is a defensive wrecking ball, and her offensive limitations could be masked a bit by sharing a backcourt with rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.