With word from Yahoo! Sports coming in that Paul has actually requested a trade out of New Orleans directly to New York, the feel of that dreaded lockout has already been shed with the unbelievable amount of rumors that surround Paul. These new developments come hours after a reported trade was struck down that would've sent Paul to the Boston Celtics and Rajon Rondo to the Hornets.
At the moment, however, Paul wants to go to the New York Knicks to play alongside Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire in order to compete with the big three of the Miami Heat and the other elite teams of the East including the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics. In order for Paul to join the Knicks, he'd have to take a significant pay cut that has him starting at $13 million, which is $7 million less than what his superstar teammates would bring in.
Take into account that the Knicks would still be paying $53 million just to pay three players and the team will only have around $15 million to surround those players with a complete roster. The team has six free agents this season, none too notable, and will only have four players under contract when Paul officially becomes a free agent.
Also, the fact that Paul wants a trade to New York is a reason for concern. The Hornets obviously want some significant pieces equivalent to what the Knicks gave the Denver Nuggets in return for Anthony and the team currently doesn't have the pieces. The only quality players to note that could be traded away would be Chauncey Billups who only has one year left on his contract, Toney Douglas, and Landry Fields.
I'm not the Hornets general manager, but even I know it's going to take more than those three players to bring in Paul. In order to obtain Anthony and Billups, the Knicks had to overhaul nearly their entire roster by giving up Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, three draft picks, and $3 million.
Unless the Hornets and Knicks can work a third party into this and New Orleans receives several role players and an All-Star in return, this deal will have some trouble getting off the ground.
Nevertheless, this is a huge story for the NBA and it brings back the attention and awareness that they lost during the lockout. It was this type of speculation that many NBA enthusiasts missed in the open period between June and October and blockbuster trades like this is what keeps the league spry during the off season.
The NBA needs help to bring back a lot of fans after many lost their trust in the league during the lockout. With Chris Paul now in a large market in New York, the possibility of a renewed rivalry between the Knicks and Miami Heat, and possibly the formation of the best offensive unit to ever be assembled, the NBA will regain its popularity and begin skyrocketing to the top of the sporting world (behind the NFL of course) with the number of headlines a deal like this would cause.
Most importantly is how this affects the balance of power atop each Conference. If Paul was to be traded to the Knicks, the Hornets would be out of the post season picture for a long time due to such a devastating loss of a franchise player. With New Orleans out, that gives room for teams like Houston, Golden State, or the L.A. Clippers to possibly take advantage and grab the vacant playoff spot.
On the other side of the country, the Eastern Conference would see plenty happening near the top of the standings. The Heat, Bulls, Celtics, Magic, and Hawks all had a tight hold at the top of the Conference with the New York Knicks finishing sixth last year which would then be followed up with a sweep to the Boston Celtics due to the loss of Stoudemire and Billups.
With Paul in the lineup, the Knicks are going to improve no matter what even if they don't have a quality roster to play with. The fact that a point guard like Chris Paul is going to be running an offense that has pure scorers like Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony should strike fear into the hearts of every last team in the East. Their defense and their bench may need some work at the start, but there's no doubt that this team would be a force to be reckoned with.
With the Celtics on the decline and the Magic's future up in the air, the Knicks could possibly take over in the Atlantic Division and secure a top three seed and home court in the first round of the playoffs. The madness would then begin as we see if the Knicks have just what it takes to truly take on the NBA's best teams in a seven game series.
If history will tell you anything, it's that defense wins championships. Paul has always been a renowned defender, but his teammates in Stoudemire and Anthony has been regarded as lazy and lackadaisical on defense. For this Knicks team to ultimately fulfill its goal, they're going to have to get their superstars on the bandwagon of committing to play defense and not just focusing on one side of the ball that isn't nearly as important.
I just hope that matchups between the Heat and Knicks don't end up how they did three consecutive times in the late-1990s.
We're still more than a week away until teams can actually begin signing free agents and making trades and the NBA has already been at the center of attention on every sports network. A trade involving a player as high profile as Chris Paul going to play for a team as high profile as New York is what's going to put fans back in the seats, eyes on the television, and trust back into this organization.