- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Chris Paul reportedly wants to come to New York.
But do the Knicks have enough trade pieces to land him?
The Knicks' roster was gutted last season in the Carmelo Anthony deal, leaving them with few trade chips this year.
The organization isn't going to trade Amare Stoudemire or Anthony go to acquire Paul. So that leaves Chauncey Billups and his $14.2 million expiring contract, which is an attractive piece.
Guard Toney Douglas, coming off of shoulder surgery, could also be used in a deal. Same goes for Landry Fields and, possibly, rookie guard Iman Shumpert.
It would be crippling for the Knicks to include a first-round pick in a trade, as their 2012 and 2014 picks are owed to other teams and they will likely have to swap their 2016 pick with the Nuggets (the league forbids teams from trading picks in consecutive years).
So their existing pieces don't figure to be enough to land Paul, a four-time All-Star who has averaged 19.8 points, 9.8 assists and 2.4 steals in six seasons.
Just as they did a year ago, the Knicks will likely have to engage a third team if they have any hope of acquiring their superstar target.
Last season, the Knicks dumped Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry on Minnesota in the Melo deal. Getting the Timberwolves involved helped make it work financially. But the Knicks didn't ask Minnesota to give up a quality player.
This time around, they will likely have to find a third team willing to trade a top pawn, not just take on salary.
That's no easy task.
If the Knicks can't land Paul in a trade, the 26-year-old would have to make a significant financial sacrifice to come to New York as a free agent.
In order for Paul to sign as a free agent, he would have to forgo close to $40 million in salary, in the best-case scenario, according to ESPN.com's John Hollinger.
As Hollinger points out in this Insider piece, the Knicks can offer Paul, at most, $13.5 million in the first year of a free-agent deal.
The $13.5 million offer is based on the notion that they'd have Anthony, Stoudemire and a bunch of minimum-salary players on the roster in the summer of 2012.
According to Hollinger, if Paul signs for $13.5 million in his first season, he can earn $57.6 million over the life of the maximum four-year deal allowable in the proposed CBA.
The Hornets, on the other hand, can sign Paul to a five-year contract that starts at a little over $17 million and is worth $98.8 million over the life of the contract, assuming the salary cap remains around $58 million.
So, in this scenario, Paul would take a $40 million pay cut to play for the Knicks.
Paul can avoid that shortfall by forgoing free agency and trying to force a trade to the Knicks. Though he'd still be sacrificing money by not signing an extension with New Orleans (fewer years), it would be far less than a $40 million hit.
But do the Knicks have the pieces to get a deal done?
As currently constituted, the answer appears to be a resounding no.
3dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann