Chris Paul is off the table for the Knicks. Here’s what that means for the club…
A STRONGER PURSUIT OF WESTBROOK?
Russell Westbrook wants out of Houston. Do the Knicks want to trade for Westbrook? There are certainly people in the organization who feel Westbrook can help the Knicks in the same way that Paul could: building a winning culture, helping the young Knicks.
But as of late last week, some people in the organization had been wary of including too much in a Westbrook (or Paul) trade because they wanted to have enough assets in place to pursue a trade for another star player.
As long as that is the prevailing thought for New York, the club won’t be willing to give up much for Westbrook. So a Westbrook-to-New York deal would come down to what Houston is looking for in return for a Westbrook trade.
WHERE ELSE CAN THEY GO AT POINT GUARD?
Based on current draft expectations, the Knicks should have the opportunity to draft Kira Lewis Jr. at No. 8 on Wednesday night. If Tyrese Halliburton and Killian Hayes are still on the board as well, New York will have the chance to take one of the top point guards in the draft. Of course, if Obi Toppin is available at No. 8, it’s hard to see the Knicks taking a point guard over the Dayton product. But New York should have the opportunity to take a point guard in the draft on Wednesday. They’ve had contact with Hayes and Lewis Jr. and worked Lewis Jr. out in person.
WHAT ABOUT FRED VAN VLEET?
If the Knicks decide to pursue a guard in free agency, the top one on the market is Fred VanVleet. With Paul in Phoenix, that eliminates one potential suitor for VanVleet. Will the Knicks pursue VanVleet? Teams surveying the VanVleet market believe that New York would have interest in VanVleet but would be hesitant to overpay the guard on a four-year contract. Reading between the lines, it means those teams expect VanVleet to end up back in Toronto.
WHAT DIRECTION IS NYK GOING IN FOR NEXT YEAR?
Some in touch with the Knicks in recent days haven’t gotten a clear indication on whether New York plans to take a patient approach this offseason or take a more aggressive approach by putting together a roster trying to win immediately.
One thing that seems clear after the Paul trade: New York was unwilling to give up the kind of assets needed to outbid Phoenix (the Suns reportedly sent Kelly Oubre, Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and a 2022 first-round pick to OKC for Paul.) A
s noted above, some in the organization had been wary of giving up too much in a trade and leaving New York without the assets required to pursue another top player via trade. But Paul’s desire to go to Phoenix probably played a major role in the negotiations. If Paul wanted to go to New York over other destinations, it’s reasonable to think that the Knicks and Thunder would have worked out a deal.
As others have noted, Devin Booker’s opinion was certainly taken into account on this trade. With Paul in Phoenix, it’s hard to see Booker demanding a trade from the Suns at any point over the next two seasons.
ONE LAST THING:
Some with the Knicks had seen Danilo Gallinari as a potential free agent target if the club is looking to contend next season. Teams expect Gallinari to leave OKC now that Paul has been dealt. Those teams expect Gallinari to look to join a contender. So if New York decides to take a patient approach to its rebuild, you can likely remove Gallinari from the list of potential targets. It’s less clear what the Paul trade means for a pursuit of free agent Carmelo Anthony.