Kevin Knox is the key to Knicks prying Chris Paul off Thunder
If Knicks president Leon Rose takes the leap for 35-year-old Chris Paul, he may have to give up on Kevin Knox, according to an NBA source.
The Thunder are motivated to deal Paul and his massive contract after deciding upon a rebuilding campaign following Billy Donovan’s firing. Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti will likely want a first-round pick and a young prospect amid his rookie contract, multiple league officials believe.
According to the source, that young player preferably is Knox, the ninth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft coming off a disappointing sophomore campaign.
The Knicks have a trove of first-round picks to deal (seven first-round picks in the next four drafts). However, the belief is they’d prefer to keep the 20-year-old Knox out of any Paul scenario and offer up either of their 2017 lottery-pick point guards, Frank Ntilikina or Dennis Smith Jr., restricted free agents in 2021.
The Thunder already have their point-guard-of-the-future in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder are not big fans of Smith.
If the Knicks eventually give up Knox and Julius Randle in a Paul deal, Carmelo Anthony will likely look to ride back to the rescue and join Paul to be their starting small or power forward.
Anthony and Paul are close friends and, of course, arguably Rose’s two favorite former clients at Creative Artists Agency. Anthony, 36, rejuvenated his career in Portland and said he “prays’’ he can return to the Blazers as a free agent. However, Paul coming to the Knicks could alter those plans.
Adding Knox would be concerning because the Knicks hired Kenny Payne, the former Kentucky assistant, to Tom Thibodeau’s staff partly as an elixir for Knox.
A Paul-Anthony addition would demonstrate Rose has decided to go all in on breaking the Knicks’ seven-year playoff drought. They would become serious playoff contenders as long as the perennial All-Star from Winston Salem, N.C. still has his legs when he turns 36 in the spring.
League sources believe Pacers combo guard Victor Oladipo and Paul are two Knicks trade priorities. Knicks GM Scott Perry drafted Oladipo while in Orlando and the two have remained close.
The biggest issue is the two-time All-Star Oladipo, 28, will be a free agent in 2021 and still hasn’t returned to elite form after tearing his patella tendon in his knee during the 2018-19 season
In any blockbuster trade, the Knicks probably have to add the enigmatic but productive Randle into the mix. Adding Paul and the two years and $85 million left on his contract would likely kill their salary-cap space for the next two seasons.
“I think both players are of equal value and I would even give Chris Paul an edge despite his salary and age,” ESPN cap guru and former Nets executive Bobby Marks told The Post. “I have concerns if Oladipo can get back to the high level he was before the injury. He is on an expiring contract and can leave as a free agent. He will likely not sign an extension. Where is he health-wise?”
Oladipo denies he wants out of Indiana as was previously reported. Interestingly, Oladipo was once repped by Rose, too, but they parted ways. Before its giant leap into the Finals, Miami reportedly was interested in trading for Oladipo.
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