If the New York Knicks are going to reach the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference, then changes need to be made. One such change could be acquiring New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, but trading for him would be a disservice to current point guard Chauncey Billups.
Paul, who has reportedly requested a trade to the Knicks, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following the season, and there is no indication that he is interested in re-signing with the Hornets. Because of that, New Orleans might be compelled to get something of value in return for him.
While the Knicks wouldn't be able to put together the most enticing package in the world, a trade between the two teams would likely involve Landry Fields, Toney Douglas and Billups going to New Orleans.
Trading Billups would be unavoidable because his $14 million contract would need to go the other way in order to even out the salaries. For somebody that has given his heart and soul to the game of basketball like Billups, though, it would be completely unfair for the Knicks to place him in a rebuilding situation, especially at his age.
When asked by the New York Times what Billups' feelings on a potential trade to New Orleans would be, he was obviously very upset by the prospect.
It wouldn’t make me happy, Billups said Friday in a phone interview from his Denver home. Because for me, at this juncture in my career, I just want to win.
I want to win another championship, he said. I think we got some good pieces in New York. I felt like we were making that move to be possibly one of those top teams. I don’t want to play for no team that’s rebuilding.
What should the Knicks do with regards to Chris Paul?
On top of the fact that Billups would have to play for what looks to be a losing team, another trade would be his second upheaval in two years. Billups had designs on retiring as a Denver Nugget in his hometown, but Carmelo Anthony's dissatisfaction meant that Billups had to go to New York as well in order to balance the salaries.
Don't get me wrong, I do think that the Knicks should pursue Paul, but I think they should wait until he becomes a free agent during the offseason. Not only would it ensure that New York doesn't have to give up any pieces, but it would allow Billups to continue playing on a winning team.
After this season, the Knicks have no commitment to Billups as he will become a free agent and be free to sign wherever he pleases. If they flip him in a deal for Paul, however, then they will essentially be tossing a respected champion to the curb.
I realize that there is some risk in waiting to acquire Paul as a team like the Los Angeles Lakers could swoop in, trade for him and sign him to an extension. If Paul truly wants to be a Knick, though, then he will have no problem waiting until the offseason.